The New England Patriots could be in big trouble for deflating footballs in the AFC Championship Game, and a past statement from Tom Brady may be adding fuel to the fire.
The NFL has reportedly been looking into whether the Patriots may have intentionally deflated balls used in the 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts, and late on Tuesday ESPN reported that the league found 11 of 12 balls were underinflated.
The league requires that all footballs be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch and must weigh between 14 and 15 ounces. The balls tested by the league were close to 2 pounds under that pressure requirement, sources close to the league have indicated.
The league is officially keeping quite on the matter.
“We are not commenting at this time,” said Greg Aiello, the NFL’s senior vice president of communications.
The New England Patriots have denied wrongdoing, and even gotten defensive over the allegations. Quarterback Tom Brady said the investigation into what is being dubbed #DeflateGate is “the last of my worries. I don’t even respond to stuff like this.”
But CBS Connecticut dug up an old statement from Tom Brady that seemed to indicate he preferred playing with a deflated ball.
“[W]hen Gronk scores – it was like his eighth touchdown of the year – he spikes the ball and he deflates the ball,” Brady said in November 2011.
“I love that, because I like the deflated ball. But I feel bad for that football, because he puts everything he can into those spikes.”
While the context appeared to be a simple joke, it has come under increased pressure now that evidence has emerged that the Patriots may have been cheating.
It’s not clear what could happen to the New England Patriots if the NFL determines that they were cheating, but it’s likely the team could be fined and/or lose draft picks.