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Ex-Viking Brad Johnson bribed men to doctor footballs at Super Bowl

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The biggest story in the NFL right now should be about the Super Bowl. Instead, the lead on every sports site in the country is about the New England Patriots intentionally deflating footballs to give Tom Brady a competitive advantage in the AFC Championship game against the Colts.

They're not the Patriots; they're the Deflatriots.

But the scandal isn't anything new to former Vikings quarterback Brad Johnson.

The Tampa Bay Times reports, that apparently years ago, Johnson admitted to paying men to doctor 100 footballs before he helped guide the Buccaneers to a win over the Raiders in the 2003 Super Bowl.

"I paid some guys off to get the balls right," Johnson said. "I went and got all 100 footballs, and they took care of all of them."

What "took care of them" exactly means is somewhat open to interpretation, though.

According to Pro Football Talk, Johnson told PFT Live's Mike Florio that he and Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon agreed they didn't want to play with the slick, brand-new balls that the NFL was using for the Super Bowl, so Johnson paid people to break the balls in and make them easier to handle.

Did it help him in the Super Bowl? Based on his stats, not exactly. He went 18-of-34 for 215 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Tampa smoked the Raiders, thanks in large part to one of the NFL's historically great defenses.

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But Johnson didn't say he paid the men to deflate the footballs; he paid them to scuff them up. The difference is apparently significant, according to former NFL quarterback Danny Kanell, who went on a brief Twitter rant.

"Both Rich Gannon and I, we had played together in Minnesota, we both agreed," Johnson said. "I never saw the footballs, Rich Gannon never saw the footballs. And we played, no one complained."

According to Pro Football Talk, Johnson said Gannon knows the Raiders weren't cheated in that Super Bowl.

"I talked to Rich Gannon this morning and he said, 'This is way blown out of proportion," said Johnson.

Johnson played two stints of his career with the Vikings, from 1994-1998 and 2005-2006.

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