Before Sunday, not many people outside of Baltimore knew the name Brendan Ayanbadejo. In one tweet, that all changed. For reasons that defy all logic, the Ravens special-teamer and backup linebacker went on a Twitter tirade as the Patriots were beating the Texans. Some highlights:
"New England does some suspect stuff on offense. Can't really respect it. Comparable to a cheap shot b4 a fight."
"Are you watching the game pats vs texans? If so you see the hurry snap offense catch em b4 they set up. It's a gimmick."
"You know the same organization that did spygate and cut a guy the day b4 the Super Bowl."
Somehow lost on Ayanbadejo: the Patriots perfected the "we get no respect" meme earlier this century and turned it into three Super Bowls. This will no doubt come in handy on Sunday when the Patriots host the Ravens in an AFC Championship game rematch from last year.
CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman wrote Monday that Ayanbadejo's remarks spread like wildfire among Pats players and coaches.
A Patriots source tells me Ayanbadejo's quotes have spread through the locker room faster than the flu virus traveling across New England. Players who are aware of the quote are furious and feel it is one of the most disrespectful things ever said about the franchise.
The Patriots will publicly deny all of this, especially Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. They'll act like the quote doesn't matter. They'll say they things like:
* "Never heard of the quote"
* "What quote?"
* "What's a quote?"
* "Is that a sentence of some sort?"
But privately, I can guarantee you, Belichick and Brady, in particular, will be furious. Spygate and losing the bid to go undefeated are sensitive areas to both men who are perfectionists, and feel Spygate is an unfair stain on both of their legacies. Belichick feels this especially (and I agree with him). Again, all of this will be publicly denied but it's true.
So that happened. Hours later, Ayanbadejo came to his senses and tweeted an apology -- "I made selfish comments on twitter last night that reflected poorly upon myself, my teammates, and the organization. For that I apologize." -- but there's no stuffing the genie back into that bottle. The damage has been done and on Sunday we'll see if grown men really take extra motivation from another grown man calling them out. If history is any indication, New England could parlay a pretty innocuous slight into another trip to the Super Bowl.