We perish because we know not… #TLENews
Update 2: January 25, 2015
Saying his team “followed the rules to the letter,” New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick described in detail how his team prepares its footballs on game day and defended his players from chatter that they made it to the Super Bowl by cheating.
In an unscheduled availability on Saturday afternoon, eight days before the Patriots will play the Seattle Seahawks for the NFL championship, Belichick revealed the results of an internal study into how the footballs are prepared to quarterback Tom Brady’s liking.
Most of the steps are designed to make them tackier for a better grip, he said, but the process could also affect the pressure inside the ball.
“There have been questions raised, and I believe now, 100 percent, that I have personally and we have as an organization have absolutely followed every rule to the letter,” Belichick said. “At no time was there any intent to compromise the integrity of the game.”
he Patriots reached the Super Bowl for the sixth time in Belichick’s tenure when they beat the Colts 45-7 in the AFC championship on Sunday. But later that night, Indianapolis TV station WTHR reported that some of the game balls provided by New England for the use of its offense weren’t sufficiently inflated.
The NFL has confirmed that it is investigating and the Patriots vowed to cooperate. Belichick said earlier in the week that he didn’t know how the game balls were prepared, deferring to Brady; Brady also denied doing anything improper.
But in the slow news off-days before Super Bowl week, the allegations received disproportionate attention — and Twitter hashtags such as “Deflategate” and “Ballghazi” — along with comparisons to the videotaping scandal of 2007, when the Patriots were hit with unprecedented penalties after Belichick was caught recording opposing coaches sending in signals from the sidelines.
Belichick denied that there is a pattern of rule-breaking or even of pushing the rules to their limit.
“It was wrong. We were disciplined for it. That’s it. We never did it again. We’re never going to do it again,” Belichick said of the scandal that came to be known as “Spygate.” ”And anything else that’s close, we’re not going to do it either.”
A football lifer who only seems happy on the sidelines, if at all, Belichick is known for an absolute attention to detail that helps prepares his team for every imaginable situation.
But instead of getting ready for the Super Bowl — his sixth as the Patriots’ head coach — he said he has spent far too much time the past week studying science and learning about how varying conditions can affect a football’s pressure.
“I’m embarrassed to talk about the amount of time that I’ve put into this relative to the other important challenge in front of us,” he said. “There are a lot of variables. I’m not saying we’re trying to land a guy on the moon, but there are a lot of things that are hard to get a handle on.”
But Belichick seemed most emotional when he came to the defense of his team. Among the questions he and his players have been asked this week is whether they cheated to be in the Super Bowl.
Belichick rested on his record, which includes a 12-4 mark in the regular season, an 11th division title in 12 seasons, a fourth straight trip — and ninth overall — to the conference championship game, and a chance for a fourth NFL title in his tenure.
“This team was the best team in the AFC in the regular season, we won two games in the playoffs,” he said. “That’s what this team is. I know that because I’ve been with them every day.”
Update 1: January 24, 2015
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Thursday he was “shocked” when informed of the allegations that his team used balls that were deflated after they were inspected by officials before Sunday’s AFC title game.
Belichick’s 11-minute news conference was devoted completely to the controversy. He said the Patriots are fully cooperating with the NFL’s investigation, and his remarks shifted the attention to quarterback Tom Brady‘s role in the matter.
NBC News reported that Brady addressed the issue with his teammates Thursday, saying in a closed-door meeting that he likes footballs “a certain way” and that they should stay focused on the Super Bowl.
Belichick said Brady, who spoke to the media later in the day, could detail more about how he prefers his footballs. Brady denied having any knowledge of how the footballs became underinflated and said he “didn’t alter the balls in any way.”
“I was shocked to learn of the footballs on Monday. I had no knowledge until Monday morning,” Belichick said. “I’d say I’ve learned a lot more about this process in the last three days than I knew, or had talked about it, in the last 40 years that I’ve coached in this league.”
The NFL found that 11 of the Patriots’ 12 game balls were inflated significantly below the NFL’s requirements, league sources involved and familiar with the investigation of Sunday’s game told ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.
Answering questions from reporters after an opening statement that lasted about eight minutes, Belichick repeated multiple times, “I have no explanation for what happened” and “I’ve told you everything I know.”
“In my entire coaching career, I have never talked to any player or staff member about football air pressure,” he said. “The footballs are approved by the league and officials pregame, and we play with what’s out there. That’s the only way that I have ever thought about that.”
“I think we all know that quarterbacks, kickers, specialists have certain preferences on footballs. They know a lot more about it than I do. They’re a lot more sensitive to it than I am,” he said, having earlier detailed his coaching philosophy of always making things difficult for players in practice as it relates to the condition of footballs.
“I hear them comment on it from time to time, but I can tell you and they will tell you that there is never any sympathy whatsoever from me on that subject. Zero. Tom’s personal preferences on his footballs is something he can talk about in much better detail and information than I can possibly provide.”
Belichick said that, because of this controversy, the Patriots will make one change in the future by inflating footballs beyond the minimum specifications of 12.5 pounds per square inch.
“Obviously, with our footballs being inflated to the 12.5-pound range, any deflation would then take us under that specification limit,” he said.
“Knowing that now, in the future, we will certainly inflate the footballs above that low level to account for any possible change during the game.”
Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount said the balls being used in Sunday’s game felt normal to him.
“I don’t know what the proper inflation feeling is but it felt like a normal ball,” he said.
Cornerback Kyle Arrington said Thursday that the Patriots need to “ignore the noise.”
“It sounds like I’m preaching at this point, but that’s our motto. It’s what we firmly believe in,” he said. “We have one job to do and hopefully we will come out on top of this one. Just let the dust settle.”
Wide receiver Matthew Slater was asked Thursday about the Patriots being labeled “cheaters.”
“I’m not really aware of what’s being said outside of the locker room. … It’s unfortunate. We’d rather be celebrating our trip to the Super Bowl. But the situation is what it is,” he said.
Under NFL rules, no alteration of the footballs is allowed once they are approved. If a person is found breaking league rules and tampering with the footballs, that person could face up to a $25,000 fine and potentially more discipline.
No sooner did the New England Patriots clinch a trip to the Super Bowl than fresh allegations of cheating emerged against the franchise late Sunday, this time involving deflated footballs.
A reporter from Indianapolis, whose Colts were annihilated by Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and company, tweeted after the 45-7 loss that the NFL had seized at least one game ball from the AFC championship game to examine whether pigskins were intentionally deflated to make them easier to throw and catch.
“The NFL is investigating the possibility,” Bob Kravitz, of WTHR, tweeted, adding that, “at one point the officials took a ball out of play and weighed it.”
If the Patriots did cheat, it would not be the first time. The team was penalized a first-round draft pick, fined $250,000 and head coach Belichick was personally fined $500,000 after an investigation by the NFL determined the team had illegally videotaped their opponents hand signals during a game.
And unsubstantiated accusations of cheating have long dogged the team, stemming from their Super Bowl wins in 2002, 2004 and 2005. The St. Louis Rams claimed the team illegally videotaped their walk-through practices prior to the 2002 game, and players on the other defeated opponents have said the Patriots seemed to have inside knowledge of their playbooks.
The Patriots lost the Super Bowl in 2008 and 2012, both times to the New York Giants.
Deflating footballs would theoretically have made it easier for quarterback Tom Brady, who completed 23 of 35 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns, to throw and for his receivers to catch in the bad weather of Sunday’s game in Foxboro.
According to NFL rules, home teams are required to provide 36 balls for outdoor games and make the balls available for testing with a pressure gauge prior to the game.
The Patriots were also accused of flouting the rules in the game before Sunday’s contest, in which they beat the Baltimore Ravens using unorthodox formations that Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said were designed to confuse the officials and his defense.
However, the margin of victory and the fact that the Colts used the same game balls make it unlikely the cheating, if it occurred, had much of an impact on the game’s outcome. If the allegation is proven, the NFL could take away draft picks from the Partriots.
The University of Southern California, under Lane Kiffin, was fined for deflating footballs in 2012 against arch-rival Oregon. Kiffin blamed a student-manager, who was fired.