Relishing no longer being in the "villain" role, Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is painting his team's Super Bowl opponent as occupying that position.
He also doubts that the Patriots will be punished by the NFL if they are found guilty of doctoring footballs in the AFC Championship Game.
"I think the perception is the reality," Sherman said Sunday after the defending champions arrived in Phoenix. "It is what it is. Their résumé speaks for itself. The past is what the past is. Their present is what their present is. And, will they be punished? Probably not."
The All-Pro cited NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's close relationship with New England owner Robert Kraft as his main reason for being skeptical.
"Not as long as Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell are still taking pictures at their respective homes. He was just at Kraft's house last week for the AFC championship," Sherman added. "You talk about conflict of interest.
"But as long as that happens, it won't affect them at all. Nothing will."
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Saturday the team "followed every rule to the letter" in preparing footballs on game day. New England arrives in Phoenix on Monday as the league's investigation into underinflated balls continues.
•Seahawks All-Pro safety Earl Thomas promises he will play in the Super Bowl and will remain fearless when he gets on the field. Thomas pronounced his separated left shoulder "pretty good" when the team arrived in Arizona for the Super Bowl. He was injured in Seattle's overtime victory against Green Bay a week ago for the NFC championship. He left the game but returned, and says there is no way he won't face New England next Sunday.
Gordon could face year ban
Josh Gordon's troubles have deepened. He might be out of chances — and time.
The Browns wide receiver has failed yet another drug test, a person familiar with the situation told the Associated Press. Gordon, who has twice been suspended by the NFL for drug violations, could be banned for one year.
Cleveland's patience with Gordon has been pushed to its limits.
"Clearly we are very disappointed to hear the latest report regarding Josh," a Browns spokesman said n a release. "At this point, due to the confidential nature of the NFL's substance-abuse policy, we have not been made aware by the league of a failed test."
Gordon's latest misstep could lead to the team releasing the talented 23-year-old, who was suspended 10 games last season because he tested positive for marijuana.