With nine days left until the Patriots face the Seahawks in Super Bowl 49, the game is the last thing the media is focusing on.
The NFL is investigating claims that the Patriots deflated 11 footballs used during the AFC Championship game against the Colts.
During press conferences on Thursday, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady denied any involvement in the footballs being deflated.
Belichick’s press conference came before practice on Thursday morning where he said he was shocked to learn of the reports.
“I can tell you that in my entire coaching career, I have never talked to any player, staff member about football air pressure,” Belichick said. “That is not a subject that I have ever brought up. To me, the footballs are approved by the league and officials pregame, and we play with what’s out there. That’s the only way that I have ever thought about that.”
Belichick said in the future, the Patriots would add extra air to footballs to ensure they did not go below the minimum required 12.5 pounds per square inch.
Brady met with the media after the team’s practice on Thursday afternoon. He said he “didn’t alter the ball in any way.”
“I feel like I have always played within the rules,” Brady said. “I would never break the rules.”
According to NFL reports, the footballs were inflated at halftime of the AFC Championship and remained properly inflated for the remainder of the second half. Brady said he didn’t notice a difference in the footballs between the first and second half.
Brady also said he likes footballs to be at exactly 12.5 PSI, so any deflation for any reason would put the Patriots’ footballs under regulation pressure.
Suspicion was placed primarily on Brady because NFL quarterbacks are heavily involved in selecting the footballs their team will use during the game.
“I go in and I take the footballs that I want to use for the game,” Brady said. “Our equipment guys do a great job with breaking the balls in. They have a process that they go through. When I pick those balls out, at that point to me they are perfect. I don’t want anyone touching the balls after that, I don’t want anyone rubbing them, putting any air in them, taking any air out.”
Brady said the process was no different than normal for selecting footballs to use against the Colts.
The league released a statement Friday saying they have conducted 40 interviews during their investigation. ESPN reports that no players have been interviewed.
The league statement said it has not come to any decisions about the situation, nor did it give an expected time frame for results to be released.
“The goals of the investigation will be to determine the explanation for why footballs used in the game were not in compliance with the playing rules and specifically whether any noncompliance was the result of deliberate action. We have not made any judgments on these points and will not do so until we have concluded our investigation and considered all of the relevant evidence.”
This topic looks like it will remain in the headlines for the foreseeable future. The Super Bowl takes place on Feb. 1 at 5:30 p.m. central time.