After reports of alleged tampering with footballs during the AFC Championship, the New England Patriots were skewered throughout social media, and especially on micro-blog Twitter.
Sources told ESPN late Tuesday that 11 out of the 12 game balls used during New England’s 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts were found by the NFL to be under-inflated. The balls used during the AFC title game were found to be two pounds per square inch below the league standard. Typically a regulation NFL ball is pumped up between 12.5 to 13.5 pounds per square inch and 14 to 15 ounces.
The Colts reportedly first thought something was wrong with the balls after linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted a pass from New England quarterback Tom Brady in the second quarter, Newsday reports. From there a Colts staffer on the sideline brought it to the attention of head coach Chuck Pagano and the league was later notified.
The NFL is still investigating the matter and, according to the Washington Post, officials see it as “very serious stuff” and are worried over the Patriots trying to gain an unfair advantage.
Another alleged infraction could have taken place even sooner. Members of the Baltimore Ravens, who lost to the Patriots in the AFC Divisional round, also believe balls they used for kicking were underinflated, CBS Sports reports.
Harking back to the days of SpyGate in 2007, when New England head coach Bill Belichick was fined $500,000 and the franchise forced to surrender draft picks for video recording signals from the New York Jets, Twitter users blasted the three-time Super Bowl winning coach, Brady and the entire team.
New England Patriots have been tampering with equipment since the Boston Tea Party. #DeflateGate
â€” God (@TheTweetOfGod) January 21, 2015
— Amazon (@amazon) January 20, 2015
— Renaud Lavoie (@renlavoietva) January 20, 2015
— Diane N. Sevenay (@Diane_7A) January 19, 2015
— ✨Steelers #1 Fan✨ (@JoeSteelerFan) January 19, 2015
— Josh Jordan (@NumbersMuncher) January 19, 2015
Banned from Twitter for 24hrs. MT @jimbradysp When Bill Belichick finally faces the press there are going to be a lot of soft-ball questions
— Jack Shafer (@jackshafer) January 21, 2015
Tom Brady has one question for all of you.........U MAD BRO?
— Joel Klatt (@joelklatt) January 21, 2015
Patriots official response: "We were in the pool!!!!!!!" pic.twitter.com/qkJmRhuixx
— Faux Frank Wren (@fauxfrankwren) January 21, 2015