Brady 'generally aware' of 'Deflategate'
An NFL investigation released last night concluded that New England Patriots employees probably deflated footballs used in the AFC Championship and that quarterback Tom Brady was "at least generally aware" of the rules violations.
The NFL began investigating what's now known as "Deflategate" after the Patriots defeated the Colts 45-7 on January 18. The Colts complained that several footballs were under-inflated and the NFL confirmed that 11 of the 12 footballs were under the limit. The investigation started as the Patriots were preparing for the Super Bowl - which they won two weeks later.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Troy Vincent, the league's executive vice president of football operations, would review the 243-page report.
"We will continue our efforts vigorously to protect the integrity of the game and promote fair play at all times," Goodell said.
The NFL requires balls to be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch, and each team is responsible for the balls it uses on offense. Footballs with less pressure can be easier to grip and catch. Some quarterbacks prefer footballs that have less air.
On many occasions, Brady said he never asked for balls to be deflated outside of the rules. But the NFL report concluded "it was more than probable than not" that Jim McNally, the officials' locker room attendant, and John Jastremski, an equipment assistant, were involved in "a deliberate effort to release air" from the footballs in the moments before kickoff of the AFC title game - and after they were examined by the referee.
The report cites evidence that McNally took the game balls into a bathroom adjacent to the field at Gillette Stadium, and stayed there for about 100 seconds - "an amount of time sufficient to deflate thirteen footballs using a needle."
Other evidence included referee Walt Anderson's inability to locate the previously approved footballs at the start of the game - the first time that had happened to him in 19 years. The report includes text messages between McNally and Jastremski - sent in October and January - that imply Brady had previously been upset with the quality of the game balls.
"Remember to put a couple sweet pig skins ready for tom to sign," one said. The report says there's no evidence that owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick or anyone on the coaching staff knew about the scheme.