New England Patriots Coach Bill Belichick Saturday blamed the weather in denying anyone in the Patriots' organization tried to give the team an upper hand in the game against the Indianapolis Colts by deflating footballs as part of the ongoing #Deflategate controversy. The normally press-averse Belichick called a surprise news conference to maintain neither he, nor quarterback Tom Brady nor anyone else in the Patriots organization is guilty of any wrongdoing en route to the 45-7 trouncing of the Colts and a Super Bowl berth.
He also expressed frustration the controversy has lingered for a week since the Indianapolis Colts complained 11 of 12 game balls supplied by the Patriots for the AFC Championship game were underinflated by two pounds per square inch. NFL rules mandate all game balls must be filled to 12.5 to 13.5 PSI.
“I believe now, 100 percent, that I have personally and we as an organization that we have followed every rule to the letter,” he said. “I feel on behalf of everyone in the organization -- everyone that is involved in this organization -- that we need to say something.”
What he said is #Deflategate boils down to the weather. Belichick, while stressing he's not a scientist, said the weather on the field was colder than it was in the locker room where the balls were initially filled. He compared the situation to the change in air pressure in car tires when newly inflated tires spend the night in the cold.
Belichick, who previously faced accusations of cheating in the 2007 Spygate scandal, also said it was possible the quarterbacks inadvertently deflated the footballs during the pre-game rub down. Rubdowns are common among NFL quarterbacks who seek to familiarize themselves with the feel and texture of a football before a big game.
“We rub it to get the ball to the proper texture,” Belichick said. “I don't know what's vigorous, what's not vigorous, we're not polishing fine china here. We're trying to get a football to the proper texture that the quarterback wants it to grip it. Does that stimulate something within the football to raise the PSI? I would say yes, it does.”
Even as the Patriots continue to explain, though, the controversy shows no signs of abating as the Feb. 2 Super Bowl approaches. The NFL announced Friday it has conducted 40 interviews though quarterback and chief suspect Tom Brady wasn't among them as of Thursday night, ESPN reported.
“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 the 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.”