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11 of 12 Patriots footballs were deflated: report

Head coach Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, fresh off making their sixth Super Bowl on Sunday, are under fire again after what is being called 'DeflateGate.'Jim Rogash/Getty Images Head coach Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots, fresh off making their sixth Super Bowl on Sunday, are under fire again after what is being called ‘DeflateGate.’

FOXBOROUGH — DeflateGate just blew up in the New England Patriots’ faces, and those who believe Bill Belichick is really Beli-cheat got a second wind Tuesday night.

ESPN reported late Tuesday that 11 of the 12 game balls New England used in its 45-7 rout of the Colts in Sunday’s AFC title game were underinflated by two pounds of air (per square inch) each.

In the report, one source described the league as being “disappointed… angry… distraught,” after discovering the weight of the findings.

While the NFL said it would not comment on the ESPN report, Hall of Famer Jerry Rice certainly did, tweeting, “11 of 12 balls under-inflated can anyone spell cheating!!! #Just Saying.”

League investigators were already in town to gauge whether allegations that the Patriots let air out of game balls during their win over the Colts on Sunday night were true. The probe as of Tuesday night remained ongoing, and it was not clear whether the Patriots deflated the balls or why the 11 balls did not meet weight.

Charles Krupa/AP Tom Brady throws a pass in Sunday’s AFC championship, but the NFL finds after investigating that 11 of the 12 footballs the Patriots used were underinflated by two pounds of pressure.

Belichick insisted Monday that the team was “cooperating fully” with the league. He previously said he did not know of any accusations on game night.

“We’re hoping to wrap that up in the next two or three days,” said Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president of football operations, on Pro Football Talk Live. Vincent also added that Patriots staffers would be interviewed.

According to the NFL rulebook, the home team, which was the Patriots in the AFC title game, is required to provide 12 primary balls to the referee 2 hours and 15 minutes before kickoff. The home team is also mandated to provide 12 backup balls. The visiting team brings another 12 balls, and all are supposed to weigh 14-15 ounces and be inflated with 12½ to 13½ pounds of air. They are not to be altered in the contest.

It is believed underinflated balls are easier to grip and throw, especially in awful weather, which is exactly what hit New England Sunday night. Tom Brady, in a 2011 radio interview, actually said he liked to throw deflated balls.

Belichick and the Patriots could be looking at forfeiture of future draft picks.Jim Rogash/Getty Images Belichick and the Patriots could be looking at forfeiture of future draft picks.

Belichick, a three-time Super Bowl winner who was fined $ 500,000 for his role in the SpyGate episode involving illegal videotaping of Jets coaches’ defensive signals by the Patriots in 2007, declined to talk about the investigation Tuesday.

“Any questions on that you should talk to (The NFL) about,” he said.

It has been reported that the Patriots could lose draft picks if the DeflateGate allegations, first reported by an Indianapolis TV station Sunday night, are proven to be true.

Belichick’s tactics have come under fire multiple times in the last month. First, former Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula, the NFL’s all-time leader in victories, referred to Belichick as “Beli-cheat” in an interview with the Florida Sun Sentinel. Then, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh labeled the Patriots’ unique offensive formations “illegal” and “deceptive” after losing to the Patriots, 35-31, in the divisional round. The NFL ultimately cleared the Patriots of any wrongdoing, but the Colts reportedly contacted the NFL about underinflated balls on Sunday.

Patriot players have scoffed at allegations. Brady called them “ridiculous” when asked about them Monday on a weekly radio appearance, and tight end Rob Gronkowski took to Twitter to post a photograph of himself spiking a ball after a touchdown. The familiar action has become known to New England fans as “Gronking” and he offered these words around the photo: “WARNING GRONKING MAY CAUSE DEFLATION.”

It may not be a laughing matter now.

Multiple reports pointed to Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson’s interception as the moment when Indianapolis believed that the balls used in the title game were deflated. The pick came in the second quarter on a pass intended for Gronkowski.

According to Newsday, Jackson gave the ball to a member of the Colts’ equipment staff, who noticed the ball seemed underinflated. The equipment staffer then notified coach Chuck Pagano. General manager Ryan Grigson was notified in the press box, and he contacted Mike Kensil, NFL director of football operations.

Brady argues with referee Bill Vinovich in the second quarter of the AFC title game.CJ GUNTHER/EPA Brady argues with referee Bill Vinovich in the second quarter of the AFC title game.

Per the Boston Globe, game officials discovered at halftime that game balls were underinflated. The officials tested each ball twice with different gauges.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers offered a counterpoint to the general consensus that an underinflated ball helps a quarterback. “I have a major problem with the way it goes down, to be honest with you,” Rodgers said Tuesday on his ESPN Milwaukee radio show. “The majority of the time, (NFL referees) take air out of the football. I think that, for me, is a disadvantage.

No matter, Belichick’s team will be under the microscope when it arrives in Arizona for the Super Bowl.

“We’ll work through that the next couple days and be ready for the players when they come back on Thursday,” Belichick said. “We’ll have it figured out by then.” 

Recommended article: Chomsky: We Are All – Fill in the Blank.
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