The National Football League (NFL) is targeting a New England Patriots locker-room attendant in connection with the infamous DeflateGate scandal.
The NFL is now focusing on a New England Patriots locker-room attendant in connection with the "DeflateGate" scandal.
FOX Sports' Jay Glazer first reported the news on Jan. 26. He says the NFL has already interviewed the locker-room attendant to try to determine if he had something to do with the 11 underinflated balls used during the AFC Championship Game pitting the Patriots against the Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 18.
Glazer's sources tell him surveillance video captured the said attendant bringing the questionable footballs from the officials' locker room into another room before taking them to the field at the Patriots' Gillette Stadium.
Attorney Ted Wells, one of the indviduals leading the NFL's investigation, released a statement on Jan. 26, per NFL.com's Dan Hanzus:
"We are in the process of conducting a thorough investigation on the issue of the footballs used in the AFC Championship. The work began last week, stretched through the weekend, and is proceeding expeditiously this week notwithstanding the Super Bowl. We are following customary investigative procedures and no one should draw any conclusions about the sequence of interviews or any other steps, all of which are part of the process of doing a thorough and fair investigation. I expect the investigation to take at least several more weeks.
"In the interim, it would be best if everyone involved or potentially involved in this matter avoids public comment concerning the matter until the investigation is concluded. The results will be shared publicly."
For his part, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick called a surprise press conference on Jan. 24 to address the matter. He said the Patriots "try to do everything right" and "err on the side of caution," per Glazer.
Two days earlier, New England quarterback Tom Brady said he "didn't alter the balls in any way." Glazer notes Brady even commended the Patriots' equipment guys for doing a great job in taking care of the footballs.
In another development, The Indianapolis Star's Dana Hunsinger Benbow reported on Jan. 26 that then-Indianapolis Colts quarterback and Brady lobbied for an NFL rule change regarding supplying footballs during the 2006 NFL season. Benbow stresses Manning and Brady's plea went largely under the radar -- hardly anybody noticed it.
Back then, Benbow says the league mandated that home teams supply all footballs for a game. The visiting team had no access to these footballs until its pregame warmups. Both Manning and Brady argued that each team supplying its own footballs would drastically level the playing field.
It also prevented the possibility of the home team handing a brand-new football -- which may get in the way of quality throws to the receivers -- to its opponent during a critical drive, per Benbow. At the time, Manning said,"If (a bad throw happens) because somebody is at the quarterback's feet, that's one thing, but not because of a bad football."
Manning and Brady successfully petitioned the NFL to allow each team's offense to supply its own footballs while it was on the field. When the rules were changed after the 2006 NFL season, Manning revealed he and Brady got 20 other quarterbacks to sign their petition, per Benbow:
"We had a little petition going around...and got 20 quarterbacks to sign the petition. We tracked Steve [McNair] down in Mississippi. Everybody faxed their petition back pretty much the next day. It was pretty much a no-brainer on trying to get that changed because it just makes sense...Nobody wants to see a receiver wide open and the ball two-hopped to him because the ball is slick."
Benbow argues it was this rule change which made today's quarterbacks more particular about the footballs they used:
"Sure, the Patriots would have supplied the balls in last Sunday's AFC Championship Game against the Colts because they were the home team. But it was the rule change that paved the way for quarterbacks to be pickier about the footballs they used. To doctor them. To wash them and throw them in the dryer.
"Because the balls don't have to be new on game day, equipment managers and quarterbacks can work all week long to get them the way they want."
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