New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said on Thursday that he had no knowledge of anyone on his team intentionally deflating balls in the AFC Championship Game, leaving it to the NFL investigation to determine what happened.
The NFL has found that 11 of the Patriots’ 12 game balls were inflated well below the NFL’s requirements, or 2 pounds per square inch below NFL regulations, during the Patriots’ 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, according to ESPN.
According to league sources, the footballs were inspected and approved by referee Walt Anderson 2 hours and 15 minutes before kickoff.
Under NFL rules, footballs cannot be altered once approved. Anyone found breaking league rules and tampering with game balls can face a fine of up to $25,000 and potential discipline.
Belichick said he had no explanation for the under-inflated footballs. When asked if quarterback Tom Brady may have played a role in the pre-game preparation of the balls, he acknowledged that players have preferences on footballs. Brady will hold a press conference later on Thursday, according to USA Today.
[quote text_size=”small” author=”– Bill Belichick” author_title=”New England Patriots coach”]
When I came in Monday morning I was shocked to learn of the news report about the footballs. I had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation until Monday morning.
The NFL’s investigation into the Patriots’ use of under-inflated footballs is still ongoing and the league has said little about how long it will take for it to reach its conclusion. The investigation is centered on how the under-inflated footballs could have happened in a controversy that is being called “Deflategate.”
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported that the Colts noticed the balls were under-inflated in the teams’ November 16 matchup and alerted officials before Sunday’s game, so it appears that deflating footballs was a deliberate tactic by someone with the Patriots, according to the Boston Globe.