The New England Patriots scandal appears to be shifting to quarterback Tom Brady, after coach Bill Belichick denied any knowledge that the team could be purposely deflating footballs.
The Patriots are accused of using balls in the AFC Championship Game that were inflated below NFL standards. The league conducted an investigation into the matter, reportedly finding that 11 of 12 balls check were well below the pressure required by the league.
While no official allegations have been made against the Patriots, the evidence indicates for many that the team was purposely taking air out of the balls, making it easier to catch and hold onto for the offense.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick addressed the controversy on Thursday, saying he never instructed anyone to deflate the footballs and had no knowledge of it happening.
“All right I’ll start off by addressing the football issue here,” Belichick said. “When I came in Monday morning I was shocked to learn of the news reports about the footballs. I had no knowledge whatsoever of the situation until Monday morning. I would say I’ve learned a lot more about this process in the past three days than I knew or have talked about it in the last 40 years that I’ve coached in this league.”
He continued, “I had no knowledge of the various steps involved in the game balls and the process that they went through that happened between when they were prepared and went to the officials and went into the game. So I’ve learned a lot about that.”
Belichick told the media that they would have to ask quarterback Tom Brady about his preferences for ball pressure, putting the focus on the future Hall of Fame quarterback. Many have already pointed fingers at Brady, including coaching and announcing legend John Madden, who said it was likely Brady requesting that the balls be underinflated.
As ProFootballTalk noted, Brady has actually been vocal about ball pressure in the past.
“In 2006, Brady and Peyton Manning successfully lobbied the league to let every team provide its own footballs to use on offense. Prior to that, it was always the home team that supplied the footballs, which meant that road team quarterbacks didn’t get to try the footballs out until pregame warmups.”
It is unclear what the NFL could do to Tom Brady, if it turns out he is responsible for the New England Patriots cheating scandal. The league is expected to release the results of its investigation in the coming days.