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Report: NFL Knew About Patriots’ Deflated Balls Before Sunday’s Game
Right now, everyone wants to know what the NFL will do to the New England Patriots after discovering that they played Sunday’s AFC Championship Game with deflated footballs. But it may not be long before they start wondering why the NFL didn’t do anything before (or earlier in) Sunday’s game.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Deadspin), the Colts first realized the Patriots were using deflated balls back on November 16, when the Pats beat the Colts by a score of 42-20. Colts safety Mike Adams recorded two interceptions during that contest. He gave both balls to the team’s equipment manager to save for keepsake purposes, but when the equipment manager realized the balls felt under-inflated, he notified the coaches and management. They raised their concerns with the league, who therefore must have been aware of the Patriots’ knack for deflating footballs ahead of Sunday’s AFC Championship.
As was previously reported, the balls for Sunday’s game were inspected by referee Walt Anderson 2 hours and 15 minutes before the game. But at some point 11 of the 12 balls being used by the Patriots became under-inflated by 2 psi per ball. And after being handed one of those balls following D’Qwell Jackson‘s second quarter interception, the Colts’ equipment manager once again noticed the ball was flat:
He told head coach Chuck Pagano, who relayed the message to general manager Ryan Grigson, who informed the NFL’s director of field operations. He then notified the officials, who checked the balls out at halftime and noticed the Patriots were playing with under-inflated balls:
Gerry Austin, longtime referee, says halftime Pats-Colts footballs brought in, checked at half. Colts footballs still legal. Pats were not.
— mike freeman (@mikefreemanNFL) January 21, 2015
And on the Patriots’ first offensive play of the second half, this happened:
No one knows for sure what was happening at that moment, but you’ll have a hard time convincing me that the refs weren’t swapping out a deflated ball right there.
So we’ll continue to wonder how those balls became deflated, how long the Patriots were able to play the game with deflated balls for, and why they didn’t do more to prevent this from happening before and during the actual game. (Maybe re-pump the Patriots’ balls and make someone who isn’t a part of their organization hold their ball bag for the rest of the game?)
What we do now know is that the league knew about the issue (for those who actually think it’s an issue), did little-to-nothing about it, and now they find themselves entrenched in a media sh*tstorm.
It’s not the first time that’s happened.