The NFL's "Deflategate" scandal from the AFC Championship game has given late night hosts plenty of comedic ammo. On Thursday's episode of Conan, Conan O'Brien joked about the deflated football controversy, but one memorable gag about the New England Patriots' poor sportsmanship took an unexpected detour into Bill Cosby's sexual assault accusations.
"This is not the first time the Patriots have been accused of cheating," O'Brien says to open the bit. He then cycles through several wacky images of the team using ridiculous approaches to victory – like putting magnets in the other teams' helmets, making rival players pay tolls, replacing a lineman with a vicious grizzly bear and "put(ting) Bill Cosby in charge of the opposing team's Gatorade."
Midway through Sunday's AFC Championship game, after Indianapolis Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson intercepted a pass thrown by Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, the Colts alerted referees that the Patriots' team-selected footballs felt under-inflated. (Lower-inflated balls are considered easier for quarterbacks to grip.) Those footballs were then removed from play and the Patriots were accused of using illegal footballs in the aftermath of the blowout.
After the game, ESPN reported that 11 of the Patriot's 12 footballs were inflated well below league regulations. Meanwhile, at a recent press conference, Brady and Patriots coach Bill Belichick denied any knowledge of intentional under-inflating.
As for Cosby, the comedian continues to perform on his Far From Finished tour amid protests at most shows. Over 30 women have come forward with sexual assault and rape allegations against the former Cosby Show star.