When you think about it, the fuss over "Deflategate" - the controversy about whether the New England Patriots, in violation of NFL rules, deflated footballs below the standard pressure to gain a competitive advantage - seems pretty amusing. ESPN's reporting on the controversy? Not quite as amusing. As a former journalist, I would categorize ESPN's coverage as shoddy at best, irresponsible at worst. In fact, the hack job that ESPN has executed should be studied by journalism students as a classic case study on how to botch what might have been a compelling story. How, exactly, has ESPN messed this up? As a famous Bard once said, let me count the ways: Off to a Bad Start ..