Bill Belichick addressed allegations Thursday that the New England Patriots deflated game balls against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship, saying "I had no knowledge of this situation whatsoever until Monday."
The NFL is investigating whether the Patriots intentionally deflated game balls during the AFC Championship, making it easier for Tom Brady to throw and receivers to catch passes in rainy conditions. Belichick said he had "no explanation for what happened" to cause Patriots' game balls to deflate. He added that he did not know the regulations governing the inflation of game balls until the last few days.
"Knowing that now in the future, we will certainly inflate the footballs above that low level to account for any possible change during the game," Belichick said.
Belichick added that, normally, he goes out of his way to make the balls his players use "as bad as they can be" during practice. "Wet, sticky, cold, slippery -- however bad we can make them, I make them. I want the players to deal with a harder situation in practice than they'll ever have to deal with in a game."
Regarding the NFL's investigation, Belichick insisted that the Patriots have cooperated fully and quickly with every request made by the league. He had little more to add regarding the matter. He deflected questions from media, including a question about how the situation might reflect his character, saying he had said all he can,
On Tuesday night, ESPN reported that 11 of the 12 balls set aside for the Patriots' offense were found to be under inflated by as many as two pounds. By regulation, all NFL game balls are supposed to be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch (PSI).
The Colts weren't aware of the deflated balls until Brady threw an interception in the second quarter to linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, who brought the ball to a Colts' equipment manager to be checked.
On Tuesday night, the Boston Globe reported that officials discovered the issue at halftime. According to the rules, the refs are supposed to replace the balls that do not meet standard with balls from the visitors' sideline.
If the Patriots did deflate balls, they like would have done so shortly after the game's opening kickoff. Officials are supposed check the balls two hours and 15 minutes before game time. The balls were tested before the game in accordance with NFL rules rules, per Pro Football Talk.
The NFL rulebook says that teams tampering with balls are subject to a $25,000 fine. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to potentially deliver harsher discipline if he sees fit, which could include a loss of draft picks.