PHOENIX – Fred Jackson is sick of the New England Patriots and their winning ways.
The Buffalo Bills running back won’t call them cheaters, though.
“No,” Jackson said Wednesday at the Super Bowl media center. “If you look at how they’ve been playing on offense and defense, they’re not cheating to win games.
“They’re talented enough to go out and beat anybody.”
The last time the Patriots played a Super Bowl in Arizona, they were engulfed by the video-taping scandal that cost them a first-round draft choice and coach Bill Belichick $500,000.
Now the Patriots are under fire for under-deflated footballs, so much so that the story is leading national newscasts heading into Sunday’s championship game against the Seattle Seahawks.
The Bills’ 15-year playoff slump has coincided with the Patriots era of dominance.
In a sport where the little things can make the difference between victory or defeat the Patriots’ controversies might eat at a division rival.
“You’d drive yourself crazy if you concern yourself with what they’re doing,” Jackson said. “You let the league do their thing and get it all taken care of.
“We just have to focus on beating them handily on the field so it doesn’t come down to things like footballs being inflated to the proper pressure. Let’s put up enough points so that it doesn’t matter.”
Marshawn Lynch’s defiant behavior wore thin in Western New York long before he brought it to the national stage with the Seahawks.
His antics never will get tiresome for Jackson.
“I laugh every time,” Jackson said of his former Bills backfield mate. “Guys that know Marshawn know he’s the biggest jokester and character you will ever meet.
“You sit back and watch and think, ‘I wonder how long he worked on that and on keeping that poker face.’ You take all those things with a grain of salt and know that it’s just him being him.”
The NFL has warned the Seahawks they will be penalized 15 yards if Lynch continues to grab his crotch after scoring touchdowns.
Lynch on Tuesday spent his five minutes on the media-day podium replying “I’m just here so I won’t get fined” to 29 straight questions.
Lynch followed up Wednesday with a similarly taciturn tone while wearing “Beast Mode” apparel that could get him fined because it’s not NFL-licensed.
From Jackson’s perspective, none of that should matter to his teammates.
“He was a tremendous teammate to be around,” Jackson said. “He’s going to lay it on the line every time he gets out there. We see it when he does something spectacular on the field and the way his teammates come up to him.
“He just shies away from the media. It’s not anything he’s ever been fond of. But when you put him on the football field, you know you’re going to get everything out of him. Guys respect him and love playing with him.”
Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Hue Jackson said he thought he aced his interview to be Bills head coach and fit the criteria owners Terry and Kim Pegula and General Manager Doug Whaley originally sought.
“They wanted to find someone to leave the defense in place,” Hue Jackson said, “because they were very good there and really help on the offensive side of the ball, help with the decision of the quarterback.
“That’s where I thought they were headed.”
Then the Bills were bowled over by Rex Ryan’s charm.
“They just felt Rex was the best fit for them, which I understand,” Jackson said. “I thought it was a fair process.”
Jackson said Terry Pegula ran the interview, but Kim Pegula and Whaley were active participants in the interview.
“To have the Pegulas that involved is impressive,” Jackson said. “It wasn’t just the general manager. It was a collective decision on what’s best for the organization, and that’s the way it should be.”
Jackson said he “absolutely” would have retained defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who was cut loose after Ryan was hired. Schwartz would have been redundant under Ryan, who runs his own defense.
Jackson got the impression the Bills will stand by young quarterback EJ Manuel.
“They will do everything they can to exhaust his opportunity there,” Jackson said. “That’s important. He started the season, in my opinion, pretty well. “ They asked him to throw the ball more than he had earlier and things started to come loose for him and the offense.
“But at no time did I think he didn’t have the talent to be an NFL quarterback.”
Bill Schuster, a 1981 Alfred University grad from Livonia, will be the umpire on referee Gene Steratore’s crew for Sunday’s game. It’s his first Super Bowl selection after being an alternate three years ago. Schuster played for the Saxons from 1976-79 and still shares the school’s single-game mark for receptions (12). He was inducted into the Alfred University Sports Hall of Fame in 2003, joining his brother Bob, former AU quarterback and a 1991 AU Hall of Fame inductee.