The New England Patriots once again stand accused of cheating as they head to their sixth Super Bowl since Bill Belichick took over the head coaching job, and replaced veteran quarterback Drew Bledsoe with an unproven, sixth-round draft pick named Tom Brady. But even more than the Patriots’ notorious — but overblown — “Spygate” scandal the new “DeflateGate” allegations appear to be just a lot of hot air.
As reported earlier by the Inqusitr, the NFL confirmed that it was looking into whether balls used during the Patriots blowout, 45-7 win over the hapless Indianapolis Colts in Sunday’s AFC Championship game were underinflated.
The allegation was first reported by Indianapolis sportswriter Bob Kravitz, who wrote that at least one ball was removed from Sunday’s game because it was suspected of not meeting the league’s standards. NFL footballs must be inflated with air pressure between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch, and must weigh no less than 14 and no more than 15 ounces.
Each team must provide 12 balls for each game. The balls are weighed and checked by the officiating crew 135 minutes prior to kickoff time. In addition, six balls are sent directly by their manufacturer for each game, in a box to be opened only by officials two hours and 15 minutes prior to a game.
Those six balls are used exclusively for kicking plays.
The NBC Sports Pro Football Talk site later reported that according to “a league source” more than one ball, in fact, “several” were removed from the AFC Championship game at the Patriots home stadium in Foxboro because they were suspected of being “abnormal.”
So far, no report has alleged or provided any evidence of how the balls became underinflated, or even if they actually were. The source who spoke to Pro Football Talk said that it is “not unheard of” for balls to be removed from play for improper inflation.
If indeed the balls were not properly inflated, however, the allegation that the Patriots deflated the balls deliberately to gain a competitive edge remains a stretch.
In separate radio interviews Monday, Brady called the cheating allegations “ridiculous,” and Belichick said that he was taken by surprise by the charges, but will “cooperate fully with whatever the league wants us, whatever questions they ask us.”
According to Pro Football Talk, the NFL will look into not only whether a ball attendant employed by the Patriots may have mishandled the balls in some way, but also whether the officials “properly weighed and measured” the balls, or whether the refs themselves did something to cause a ball or several balls to lose air pressure.
But while some fans have called for the Patriots to forfeit the AFC Championship game retroactively, even the reporter who brought the tenuous allegations to light was adamant that nothing about the balls used in the game had any impact on the final score.
“The possible deflation of the footballs in Sunday’s AFC Championship Game had nothing, zero, zilch to do with the outcome,” wrote Kravitz, in a column explaining why he reported the latest cheating charges against the New England Patriots. “You know it. I know it. The Colts themselves know it.”