The NFL draft begins on the last day of April, and while the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the ones with the number 1 overall pick, it is the New England Patriots who are patiently waiting. Not to draft, but to find out the results of the “Deflategate” investigation, which has already lasted more than three months.
In January, the NFL started an investigation into the Patriots to get information on why 11 of the 12 game balls they provided for the AFC Championship game against the Colts were not inflated to the leagues requirement. The NFL hired attorney Ted Wells, who also investigated the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal, to run the investigation.
The thing is, three months have passed and no one knows when the investigation will be finished or when the decision is going to be announced.
“We have not put a time frame on Ted Wells,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said March 25. “We asked him to be thorough, complete and when he is finished with that — he’ll give that to us and to the public in general.”
Yesterday, CNN tried to contact Wells and the league for an update on the investigation, but they could not be reached.
On January 18, the Patriots blew out Indianapolis Colts 45-7 to advance to the Super Bowl. The Patriots poured it on with 28 of their points in the second half, after the game officials had pumped the balls back up to their regulation pressure, so it’s unlikely that the ball pressure made much difference in the outcome of the game.
The following month, Colts GM Ryan Grigson said the team had told the league about this before the AFC Championship game.
“We went into the game, we had some issues, but we are going to do what we can and that’s to participate with the league and the investigation and wait until the Wells report comes out,” Grigson said February 19. “We really have no other recourse than to wait until that investigation comes out.”
Each team gives the referees twelve footballs so that they can check them before the start of the matchup. The home team also has the responsibility to supply twelve backup balls, and for outdoor games, the road team has the option two supply twelve more. NFL rules say the referee “shall be the sole judge as to whether all balls offered for play comply with these specifications. A pump is to be furnished by the home club, and the balls shall remain under the supervision of the Referee until they are delivered to the ball attendant just prior to the start of the game.”
It is said that the deflated footballs are easier for the QB’s to handle, but nothing has proven that.
Patriots Say They’re Innocent
A day after beating the Colts, Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady called the accusation of using deflated footballs “ridiculous”. A few days later he ran into the media and said he has always played by the rules.
Even Patriots head coach came out and said that they try to do everything right.
“At no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to gain an advantage,” Belichick said at the time. “Quite the opposite, we feel like we follow the rules of the game to the letter in our preparations, in our procedures.”
While the controversy was going on, the Patriots were getting ready to play in Super Borl XLIX. After arriving in Arizona, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he expects the league to apologize after all of this is done.
“Many jump to conclusions and made strong accusations against our coach, quarterback, and staff questioning the integrity of all involved,” Kraft said then. “If the Wells investigation is not able to definitely determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope the league would apologize to our entire team and in particular coach Belichick and Tom Brady for what they have had to endure this past week.”