Deflategate: Latest Investigation Reports, Comments and Reaction

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Deflategate: Latest Investigation Reports, Comments and Reaction
Greg M. Cooper/USA Today

The NFL has launched an investigation into the amount of air in the balls provided by the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game against the Colts. On Jan. 20, ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported 11 of the 12 balls used by the Patriots were underinflated by two to three pounds each. However, NFL.com's Ian Rapoport revealed more details on Feb. 1, including that only one of the 11 balls used in the first half was reportedly two pounds underinflated. Troy Vincent has noted Colts general manager Ryan Grigson's tip helped spark the investigation.

Continue for updates. 


Pagano Dismisses Rumor Colts Deflated Football

Thursday, Feb. 19

Coach Chuck Pagano was asked if the Colts may have deflated a football after D'Qwell Jackson's second quarter interception, and his answer was simple, per Stephen Holder of the Indianapolis Star:


Gringson Comments on Investigation

Thursday, Feb. 19

Colts GM Ryan Grigson commented on his role in ensuring officials knew about his concerns with deflated balls ahead of the AFC Championship game, per Mike Chappell of RTV6 in Indy:

On Feb. 3, NFL football operations chief Troy Vincent conducted an interview with "60 Minutes Sports" on Showtime. In the interview, Vincent stated Grigson's tip helped spark the investigation into the underinflated footballs, courtesy of ESPN.com and the Associated Press:

NFL football operations chief Troy Vincent has confirmed Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson helped kick off Deflategate by contacting league officials about the New England Patriots using underinflated balls in the AFC Championship Game.

Vincent conducted an interview with "60 Minutes Sports" that airs Tuesday on Showtime, as reported Monday by MMQB.SI.com, in which he said Grigson notified the league about a potential deflation problem.

ESPN also provided a statement from Grigson discussing the subject on Jan. 23:

Everything I'm sure is going to come out in the investigation, guys. Like I said, it's not appropriate for me to talk about. I can't do that. It's in the league's hands. I'm sorry.


Locker-Room Attendant Reportedly Tried to Insert Illegal Ball in AFC Title Game

Tuesday, Feb. 17

SportsCenter reported that a Patriots locker-room attendant tried to put an unapproved kicking ball into the AFC Championship game, per sources close to the investigation.


Belichick Talks Timeline of Wells Report on Letterman

Wednesday, Feb. 11

Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post reported that Bill Belichick told David Letterman Wednesday night that the Wells report will be released sometime in March.


John Harbaugh Denies 'Tipping Off' NFL, Colts on Deflated Footballs

Sunday, Feb. 1

"Harbaugh just denied tipping off Pagono/anyone about Deflate-Gate. He even confirmed with Pagano that no Raven had any contact," relayed Michael Wargo of CSNWashington.com.


New Details Emerge on Deflated Footballs

Sunday, Feb. 1

NFL.com's Ian Rapoport cited multiple sources who have provided new information on the Deflategate investigation, most notably about events prior to the AFC Championship game:

Prior to the game, a game-day worker employed by the Patriots, a man described as elderly, took two bags of 12 footballs (one bag from each team) into the restroom near the referees' room in Gillette Stadium. The man was in the room for 98 seconds. When he exited the room, he took the balls to the field. There is video of the man entering and exiting the bathroom, but it's unclear if there is a clear shot inside the restroom.

That the man entered the restroom prior to walking with the footballs onto the field was discovered by the Patriots, and video footage was quickly turned over to Ted Wells for his investigation.

[...]

Eleven of the 12 footballs used in the first half were judged by the officials to be under the minimum of 12.5 PSI, but just one was two pounds under. Many of them were just a few ticks under the minimum.

Rapoport also reported a synopsis of what Belichick and Brady stated in private:

When coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were told there were questions about the footballs, both were incredulous. Belichick indicated privately what he said publicly: That he had little knowledge of what went into pregame footballs. Brady told someone close to him that he works on the footballs all week, then has no idea what happens to them on gameday.

Finally, Rapoport provided insight on what took place following the game:

Many of the footballs used in the AFC title game, which all have Walt Anderson's initials on them, were returned to circulation among the rest of the Patriots game-day footballs. Because Anderson was the referee for two other Patriots games this season, there are more than 30 footballs with his initials in the team's possession. It appears the league has the football D'Qwell Jackson intercepted and took to the sidelines to ultimately hand over to his equipment staff.


Goodell Addresses Investigation at Pre-Super Bowl Press Conference

Friday, Jan. 30

Shalise Manza Young and Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald and Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press, Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News and NFL Network's Albert Breer had Goodell's thoughts on Deflategate from his "state of the league" press conference:

Goodell also addressed his relationship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, per ESPN's Kevin Seifert an CBS Boston's Michael Hurley:

 


NFL Won't Interview Players Until After Super Bowl

Thursday, Jan. 29

Players involved in Deflategate won't be interviewed until after the Super Bowl according Jason Cole of Bleacher Report:


Balls in Super Bowl to Receive Extra Security 

Thursday, Jan. 29 

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reported NFL VP of Officiating Dean Blandino indicated special measures will be taken to protect the integrity of the balls used in the Super Bowl:

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe provided more from Blandino, who addressed another game featuring the Patriots:


Kraft Reportedly Concerned About Damage to Patriots' Brand

Thursday, Jan. 29

Jason Cole of Bleacher Report passed along what he was hearing regarding Patriots owner Robert Kraft's response to the Deflategate scandal:


Should League Apologize to Pats for Deflategate Saga?

Wednesday, Jan. 28

Bleacher Report NFL analyst Chris Simms explained why the NFL doesn't owe the Patriots an apology for the ongoing Deflategate scandal:

Simms' comments come after Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft demanded an apology from the league if it doesn't find any evidence of wrongdoing from the organization. Kraft made the comments during a Jan. 26 press conference.


NFL Reportedly Seeking Help from Physicists for Inflation Investigation

Wednesday, Jan. 28

According to James Glanz of The New York Times, the NFL is seeking assistance in its investigation from an unlikely source: 

A law firm hired by the N.F.L. to investigate footballs used by the New England Patriots has formally asked the Columbia University physics department for help in understanding how weather and temperature could affect the pressure in footballs, according to a summary of the communication obtained by The New York Times.

Lorin L. Reisner, a partner in the litigation department of the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, called the physics department on Monday, according to notes taken by an administrative manager.

'He would like to consult with a physicist on matters relating to gas physics,' the notes said. 


Can Players Tell When a Ball Is Underinflated?

Wednesday, Jan. 28

CNN's Andy Scholes went to Super Bowl media day on Tuesday to find out if players could tell the difference between properly inflated and underinflated footballs:


Robert Kraft Responds to Richard Sherman's Comments

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk provided comments from Kraft, who responded to Sherman alleging the NFL had a conflict of interest in its investigation of Deflategate, as evidenced by a party Roger Goodell attended at Kraft's home.

If you go into the facts of what he said, the NFL always used to pay for a big party for the AFC Championship Game. We’ve been privileged to own the team for 21 years, and this was our 10th championship game. When the league stopped giving the parties, we started doing it. This is our third one. I think Mr. Sherman understood that he’s the biggest beneficiary, because they get over 50 percent of the revenues. So he didn’t go to Harvard, but Stanford must be pretty good because he figured it out.


Did Patriots Play with League-Approved Footballs?

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Boston radio hosts Toucher and Rich reported on what they were hearing in regards to the Patriots' footballs for the AFC Championship Game:


Is a Brady-Belichick Divorce on the Horizon?

Tuesday, Jan. 27

Shalise Young of The Boston Globe talked to Adam Lefkoe of Bleacher Report about the future of the relationship between Tom Brady and Bill Belichick in New England:


Kraft Comments on 'Deflategate'

Monday, Jan. 26

Patriots owner Bob Kraft spoke to the media for the first time about the Deflategate scandal on Monday night. He made some rather strong statements backing his team and demanded an apology if his organization is found to be innocent. Via Albert Breer of the NFL Network:

Kraft went on to specifically single out Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, standing behind his two leaders, per CNN's Rachel Nichols:

Brady was also asked once again about the situation, according to Nichols:


Ted Wells Issues Statement

Monday, Jan. 26

Lawyer Ted Wells, who has been hired by the NFL to investigate if New England knowingly used deflated balls in the AFC Championship Game, issued a brief statement today via Gary Myers of New York's Daily News:


NFL Reportedly Targets Locker Room Attendant

Monday, Jan. 26

Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported on the latest developments in the NFL's investigation surrounding the footballs used in the AFC Championship Game:

FOX Sports has learned that the NFL has zeroed in on a New England Patriots locker-room attendant in connection with the scandal of improperly inflated footballs used in the AFC championship game against Indianapolis.

The person of interest was already interviewed by the league. The NFL is trying to determine whether any wrongdoing by this individual occurred, sources tell FOX Sports.

There is surveillance video showing the attendant taking the footballs from the official's locker room into another room at Gillette Stadium before bringing them out to the field, sources tell FOX Sports.

ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio reports on where the locker-room attendant may have taken the balls to and how long he was there: 

First, per a league source, the other “area on way to field” is a bathroom.  The bathroom consists of one toilet and one sink and a door that locks from the inside. Second, according to the same source, the person carried two bags of balls into the bathroom:  the 12 balls to be used by the Patriots and the 12 balls to be used by the Colts. 

Third, from the same source, the evidence comes from a surveillance video that was discovered by the Patriots and given to the NFL early in the investigation. Fourth, again from the same source, the video shows the employee in the bathroom for approximately 90 seconds.

Florio also did the math on how long it would take to deflate all of those balls in the allotted time: 


NFL Coaches Believe Patriots 'Cross the Line Too Often'

Monday, Jan. 26

Jason Cole of Bleacher Report passed along what he was hearing within NFL circles about the Patriots and the "Deflategate" controversy:


Brady Expects to Be Interviewed After Super Bowl

Sunday, Jan. 25

At halftime of the Pro Bowl, Tom Brady conducted an interview with ESPN's Chris Berman, where he revealed when he expects to be interviewed by the NFL about Deflategate, via Kevin Seifert of ESPN.com:

Brady also said he has yet to be contacted by the NFL regarding the situation per ESPN Boston's Mike Reiss:


Multiple People Comment on 'Deflategate'

Sunday, Jan. 25

As "Deflategate" continues to be the talk of the NFL, multiple prominent figures offered up their opinions on the manner. Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay took to Twitter on Sunday to comment on the controversy:

Seattle Seahawks star Richard Sherman didn't sound very confident when asked if he thought the Patriots would be punished for Deflategate via Marc Sessler of NFL.com:

Kevin Clark of the Wall Street Journal passed along comments from Seahawks lineman Michael Bennett:


Belichick Says Patriots Followed Rules

Saturday, Jan. 24

The Associated Press provided video of Belichick's press conference on Saturday:

Neil Degrasse Tyson weighed in on the Patriots' explanation for what happened to their footballs:


NFL, Patriots Issue Statements on 'Deflategate'

Friday, Jan. 23

NFL Communications (full version here) released the league's statement on the situation:

Our office has been conducting an investigation as to whether the footballs used in last Sunday’s AFC Championship Game complied with the specifications that are set forth in the playing rules. The investigation began based on information that suggested that the game balls used by the New England Patriots were not properly inflated to levels required by the playing rules, specifically Playing Rule 2, Section 1, which requires that the ball be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. Prior to the game, the game officials inspect the footballs to be used by each team and confirm that this standard is satisfied, which was done before last Sunday’s game.

“The investigation is being led jointly by NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash and Ted Wells of the law firm of Paul Weiss.

Over the past several days, nearly 40 interviews have been conducted, including of Patriots personnel, game officials,and third parties with relevant information and expertise.

While the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs that were under-inflated were used by the Patriots in the first half, the footballs were properly inflated for the second half and confirmed at the conclusion of the game to have remained properly inflated. The goals of the investigation will be to determine the explanation for why footballs used in the game were not in compliance with the playing rules and specifically whether any noncompliance was the result of deliberate action.

Boston.com's Erik Frenz had the Patriots' statement as well:

Bleacher Report's Jason Cole provides an insider look at the investigation in this Team Stream Now video:

Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe and Shalise Manza Young of The Boston Globe discuss reaction to Deflategate in the video below:


Brady Speaks to Media About 'Deflategate'

Thursday, Jan. 22

Will Brinson of CBS Sports, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald and Phil Perry of CSN New England provided Brady's comments on the allegations that he had a role in deflating the footballs used in the AFC Championship Game:

Albert Breer of NFL Network had more of Brady's reaction to the allegations:

Mark Daniels of The Providence Journal noted Brady acknowledged that the league has yet to reach out to him for questioning:

Ian Rapoport of NFL Network claims the NFL not reaching out to Brady yet isn't atypical in this situation:

ESPN's Ed Werder noted Brady claimed he couldn't tell the difference in the balls' inflation levels from one half to another:

Chris Simms of Bleacher Report weighed in on Brady's comments:


Brady Reportedly Addressed Teammates on Controversy

Thursday, Jan. 22

Erin McClam of NBC News is reporting that Tom Brady spoke to his teammates ahead of his press conference with the media on Thursday:

Brady addressed his teammates behind closed doors on Thursday, NBC News learned. He told them that he prefers the football 'a certain way,' according to teammates, and told them to stay focused on the Super Bowl.


Will 'Deflategate' Affect Pats' Super Bowl Preparation?

Thursday, Jan. 22

Bleacher Report NFL analysts Chris Simms and Jonathan Vilma break down how "Deflategate" will impact New England's preparation for the Super Bowl in the video below:


Belichick Denies Knowledge of Deflated Balls

Thursday, Jan. 22

According to a report from ESPN Boston, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that Bill Belichick had no knowledge of the improperly inflated footballs. 

Ross Tucker of NFL.com reported that Belichick confirmed that report during his Thursday press conference:

ESPN's Mike Reiss provided more from Belichick on the scandal:

Kevin Duffy of Mass Live reported that Belichick tried to make things difficult during practice:


Officials Subbed in Replacement Balls in Second Half

Wednesday, Jan. 21

According to a report from WEEI, officials used replacement balls in the second half of the AFC Championship, after testing the Patriots' footballs at halftime:

The Patriots used 12 backup footballs for the second half of Sunday’s AFC championship game after issues were found with most of the original 12 balls used by the offense in the first half, an organizational source told WEEI’s Joe Zarbano.

Team spokesman Stacey James confirmed to WEEI.com that the team had 24 footballs available, 12 of which were tested by the officials pregame and another dozen stored inside as backups.

After the officials found that the majority of the balls used in the first half were below the acceptable PSI as mandated by the NFL, the backup balls were brought in. According to the source, the backup balls were tested and found to be at the correct levels, and subsequently put into play—just barely in time, as the second half already had started by the time the testing was completed. This is why the officials stopped play and swapped out the kicking ball on the first play from scrimmage of the second half.

On Tuesday, Kevin Kietzman of ESPN had reported that the original balls had been used in the second half after being reinstalled. 


NFL Planned to Investigate Balls Before Jackson's INT

Wednesday, Jan. 21

The NFL had already planned to investigate the footballs used in the AFC Championship Game at halftime before D'Qwell Jackson alerted an equipment manager about the ball being deflated after a second-quarter interception, according to a report from Fox Sports' Jay Glazer.

The report also states that the Baltimore Ravens, who had lost to the Patriots the week before in the divisional round, alerted the Colts about the amount of air in balls before the conference title game.


NFL Reportedly Finds 11 of 12 Balls in AFC Championship Were Underinflated

Tuesday, Jan. 20

After launching an investigation into allegations the New England Patriots used underinflated balls during their AFC Championship Game win over the Indianapolis Colts, the NFL reportedly found 11 of the 12 were low on air by about two pounds.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen first reported the news, including a "no comment" from the league office:

Ben Volin of The Boston Globe confirmed Mortensen's report.

League rules mandate each ball must be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch, with an overall weight between 14 and 15 ounces. Prior to kickoff, officials are supposed to ensure proper inflation by inspecting all 12 balls, which are then given to attendants.

Adam Schefter of ESPN also reported that the Colts had concerns about the Patriots dating back to their first matchup this season:

Sources told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter on Wednesday that the Colts had concerns about underinflated balls after their regular-season game against the visiting Patriots on Nov. 16.

During that game, Colts safety Mike Adams twice intercepted Tom Brady and gave the balls to the Colts' equipment manager to save—and both times there were concerns about the balls feeling underinflated, sources told Schefter.

Those sources said the Colts raised concerns to the league, which was aware of the issue going into this weekend's AFC title game.

Jason Cole of Bleacher Report weighed in on the report and how common the practice may be around the league:

Kevin Kletzman of ESPN Sports Radio 810 in Kansas City revealed more details about the NFL's findings:

When the NFL found 11 of the 12 New England Patriots game balls underinflated at half time of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, they were reinflated and then confidentially tested again immediately after the game, a source familiar with the investigation told WHB

Each of the 12 Patriots balls conformed to standards approximately 5 minutes before kickoff but 11 were found to be about two pounds per square inch low at halftime.

The underinflated balls were reinflated to conform to league standards and put back in play for the second half. Each ball was re-tested immediately after the game by a representative from the league office who reported the results to executives at the NFL. All 12 footballs used by the Indianapolis Colts conformed to standards when tested.

The source told WHB it is highly improbable that so many of the Patriots footballs could lose so much air because of weather or playing conditions and the Colts balls did not. But the source stopped short of saying they believed the Patriots doctored the balls.

Former NFL quarterback Matt Leinart also said that the practice was commonplace throughout the league:

CBS Sports' Will Brinson provided an interesting take on the situation from Panthers kicker Graham Gano:

Jeff Zrebiec of The Baltimore Sun reported on Tuesday that the Ravens didn't notice anything unusual with the footballs in their matchup with the Patriots:

Mortensen's report indicates referee Walt Anderson inspected the Patriots' footballs two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff and granted them approval. It's unclear how the balls could have been deflated between Anderson's inspection and their use on the field.

Newsday's Bob Glauber reported on how this situation was brought to the league's attention:

According to a person familiar with the background of the matter, the Colts first noticed something unusual after an interception by Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson in the second quarter. Jackson gave the ball to a member of the Colts' equipment staff, who noticed the ball seemed under-inflated and then notified coach Chuck Pagano.

The front office was soon notified and passed its findings on to the league office.

News of the NFL's investigation leaked Sunday night and was confirmed Monday.

"We'll cooperate fully with whatever the league wants us ... whatever questions they ask us, whatever they want us to do," Patriots coach Bill Belichick told reporters on a conference call.

Julio Cortez/Associated Press

Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports reported some members of the Baltimore Ravens believe balls were deflated during their AFC Divisional Round matchup. The veracity of those claims is debatable and would be difficult to prove weeks after the fact.

It's unclear what action the NFL could take against the Patriots. Kevin Seifert of ESPN noted that a minimum $25,000 fine for altering game balls exists in the rulebook, but given the significance of the game, this would seemingly be an infraction that would require swifter action.

Chris Simms of Bleacher Report weighed in on what the punishment should be for the Patriots if the allegations are true:

This is a public relations nightmare regardless of how the NFL chooses to act. The Patriots defeated the Colts by 38 points, so it's unlikely the inflation level of the balls had any real impact on the result. La Canfora cites kicking and punting depth as one area in which the Patriots could have benefited in the divisional round, and the alleged deflated balls would have been easier for Tom Brady to grip during inclement weather.

More than likely, this incident will prove to be yet another black eye for a league that has had a tumultuous year in the national spotlight. The Patriots have been long derided by fans for their Spygate incident, an event that remains shrouded in mystery because of the destruction of the videotapes. Now, fair or not, their latest Super Bowl run will also be tainted by allegations of cheating.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter.


Related Deflategate Content

  1. Patriots Reportedly Investigated by NFL for Using Deflated Footballs vs. Colts
  2. Twitter Reacts to NFL Finding 11 of 12 Under-Inflated Balls From AFC Championship

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