Dozens Interviewed by NFL in Pats Probe

Belichick Brady

The NFL announced that league vice president Jeff Pash and Ted Wells, who conducted the investigation into the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin bullying controversy, lead the probe into the handling of footballs by the New England Patriots for the AFC Championship Game.

“While the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs that were under-inflated were used by the Patriots in the first
half, the footballs were properly inflated for the second half and confirmed at the conclusion of the game to have remained properly inflated,” reads the NFL statement. “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.”
The league states that the investigation has interviewed “nearly forty” people and has retained an electronics forensics company to assist in the search for the truth.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft addressed the matter in a statement released on Friday:
On Monday, I received a letter from the league office informing me that they would be conducting an investigation into the air pressure of the game balls. Immediately after receiving the letter, I instructed our staff to be completely cooperative and transparent with the league’s investigators. During the three days they were here, we provided access to every full- and part-time employee the league’s representatives requested to speak with and produced every communication device that they requested to search. It is an ongoing process that the league and our team are taking very seriously. I very much support the league’s desire to conduct a complete investigation and welcome the appointment of Ted Wells to lead the process. Competitive balance and the integrity of the game are the foundation of what makes our league so special and I have the utmost respect for those principles. Our organization will continue to cooperate throughout the league’s investigation. Meanwhile, our players, coaches and staff will continue to focus on our preparations for Super Bowl XLIX and the many challenges we face as we prepare for the Seattle Seahawks.

The league found significant under-inflation of 11 of 12 balls used by the Patriots in the first half of their game against the Colts. The team played with normally inflated balls for the second half of their 45-7 blowout of Indianapolis. Both head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback deny any knowledge of tampering with the footballs.

The Patriots take on the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl 49 a week from Sunday.