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NFL issues statement in regard to Deflategate 01.23.15 at 1:56 pm ET
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The NFL released the following statement Friday afternoon in regard to its continuing investigation into the controversy surrounding the report of underinflated footballs being used in the AFC title game:

“Our office has been conducting an investigation as to whether the footballs used in last Sunday’s AFC Championship Game complied with the specifications that are set forth in the playing rules. The investigation began based on information that suggested that the game balls used by the New England Patriots were not properly inflated to levels required by the playing rules, specifically Playing Rule 2, Section 1, which requires that the ball be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. Prior to the game, the game officials inspect the footballs to be used by each team and confirm that this standard is satisfied, which was done before last Sunday’s game.

“The investigation is being led jointly by NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash and Ted Wells of the law firm of Paul Weiss. Mr. Wells and his firm bring additional expertise and a valuable independent perspective. The investigation began promptly on Sunday night. Over the past several days, nearly 40 interviews have been conducted, including of Patriots personnel, game officials, and third parties with relevant information and expertise. We have obtained and are continuing to obtain additional information, including video and other electronic information and physical evidence. We have retained Renaissance Associates, an investigatory firm with sophisticated forensic expertise to assist in reviewing electronic and video information.

“The playing rules are intended to protect the fairness and integrity of our games. We take seriously claims that those rules have been violated and will fully investigate this matter without compromise or delay. The investigation is ongoing, will be thorough and objective, and is being pursued expeditiously. In the coming days, we expect to conduct numerous additional interviews, examine video and other forensic evidence, as well as relevant physical evidence. While the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs that were under-inflated were used by the Patriots in the first half, the footballs were properly inflated for the second half and confirmed at the conclusion of the game to have remained properly inflated. 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 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.

“Upon being advised of the investigation, the Patriots promptly pledged their full cooperation and have made their personnel and other information available to us upon request. Our investigation will seek information from any and all relevant sources and we expect full cooperation from other clubs as well. As we develop more information and are in a position to reach conclusions, we will share them publicly.”

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Deflategate,
Colts LB D’Qwell Jackson: I didn’t notice problem with pressure in football 01.22.15 at 8:15 pm ET
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Indy’s D’Qwell Jackson said Thursday he didn’t notice a difference in the air pressure of the football he intercepted in last week’s AFC title game between the Colts and Patriots.

It was believed the discovery of the Colts linebacker kickstarted the Deflategate investigation — reports initially indicated that he was the one who noticed the change in the air pressure of the footballs following a second-quarter interception of New England’s Tom Brady. That led to an ESPN report that 11 of the Patriots footballs from that game were under-inflated.

However, Jackson said Thursday that simply wasn’t the case, telling NFL Media it wasn’t his claim that prompted the investigation.

“I wouldn’t know how that could even be an advantage or a disadvantage,” Jackson said. “I definitely wouldn’t be able to tell if one ball had less pressure than another.”

Jackson added that he doesn’t feel bitter toward the Patriots, who won the game 45-7.

“It wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the game,” Jackson said. “They outplayed us. We didn’t match their intensity. I don’t feel slighted at all personally. They created turnovers, they ran the ball on us. They won that game because of their intensity — not the pressure of a football.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: D'Qwell Jackson, Deflategate,
Tom Brady: ‘I didn’t alter the ball in any way’ 01.22.15 at 4:50 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady said Thursday afternoon that he did not “alter the ball in any way” when it came to the footballs used in last week’s AFC title game.

Addressing a room full of reporters for roughly 30 minutes, the Patriots quarterback said he was “very comfortable” that no one did anything wrong, and added that he was not a cheater.

“I don’t believe so,” he said. “I would never do anything to break the rules. … I would never do anything outside of the rules of play.

“I didn’t alter the ball in any way,” added Brady, who said he didn’t know anything was amiss until he heard the initial report on Monday morning.

The Patriots are under fire for a report that indicated that there was an issue with 11 of the 12 footballs on the New England sideline in the game against the Colts.

Brady said that once the equipment team gets the balls ready, he chooses the ones he wants to use. After that, he doesn’t want anybody handling the footballs.

Brady indicated that the league had not contacted him as part of any investigation.

“They’ll do however they see fit,” Brady said. “I think that is up to their responsibility to do whatever they want to do. That usually happens anyway. Like I said, I know they are doing their investigation…”

As far as any punishment for what happened, he said that wasn’t his decision.

“I’m not the one who imposes that type of accountability and discipline,” he said. “That’s not my job.”

In the meantime Brady is looking to get answers and move onto the actual game.

“Obviously I would like to know what happened, as you all would too,” he said. “In the meantime I am going to try and do the best I can against the Seahawks because I can’t change any thing that happened in the past and have go forward with most awareness as I can going forward and trying to be the best I can be for my team.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Deflategate, Super Bowl XLIX, Tom Brady,
For Patriots, creating game plan for success in Glendale starts with good week of practice in Foxboro 01.22.15 at 4:02 pm ET
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Rob Ninkovich says maximizing practice time is key when it comes to Super Bowl prep. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Rob Ninkovich says maximizing practice time is key when it comes to Super Bowl prep. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — For the Patriots, one of the big points of emphasis this week before they leave for Glendale, Arizona, next Monday is maximizing prep time while at their own facility. While the two teams have been gifted with two weeks between the conference championship and the Super Bowl, the key comes down to using your time wisely.

“You’ve got to be efficient in what you’re doing with your time, especially right now,” defensive end Rob Ninkovich said before practice on Thursday. “Looking at extra tape, looking at yourself, film of yourself and the things that you need to work at are key. Right now, it’s getting better and everyone as a group — defensively, offensively, special teams — working to get better. That’s what it’s all about.”

This will mark the second Super Bowl for Devin McCourty, who indicated that its important to keep a sense of normalcy in the days leading up to departure for the Super Bowl.

“It’s huge — to be in our normal setting, coming in, going to practice and doing what we do on a normal basis,” McCourty said. “That’s kind of the easiest way to prepare and get ready to go. We can really take advantage of this time and get a lot done as far as preparing and having a little edge or a little step ahead once we go down to Arizona.

“It’s a little harder once you get in a new setting. If you can take care of a lot of things and kind of be going over it for a second time once we get into Arizona I think that’ll give us a big advantage going into the game.”

Wide receiver Brandon LaFall, who will be going to his first Super Bowl, echoed McCourty, saying that the four days worth of practice before they leave for Arizona — Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday — are vital to creating a foundation of success.

“It’s very important,” he said. “These four days we are really working on ourselves and [when we] start putting the game plan in and get the basics down. And when we get out there, the goal of everything is [to] just go over your final walkthrough of things to make sure you got everything understood.”

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Brandon LaFell, Devin Harris, Rob Ninkovich
Patriots locker room reaction over Deflategate flap: ‘We’re just focusing on Seattle’ 01.22.15 at 3:07 pm ET
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FOXBORO — A handful of Patriots players addressed the charges of under-inflated footballs in last Sunday’s AFC title game against the Colts in the locker room Thursday morning:

Special teams captain Matthew Slater: “Certainly that is something we have addressed and will continue to address. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the hoopla. Your families are really excited but we have a job to do. This is not a vacation for us. This is not a celebration. We have a job to do and at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to and that’s where our focus needs to be. As a team, to a man, we need to make sure we have our minds in the right place, our focus in the right place, and that’s playing football. That’s all that matters at the end of the day.”

Slater on any worries about Deflategate? “I feel pretty confident in saying we’re just focusing on Seattle. … We’re all about focusing on what’s going on inside these doors here and there’s always going to be a lot of buzz going outside these doors, and we’ve been trained to ignore that, and we have to. We can’t allow ourselves to get caught up in positive or negative things. We just have to focus on us and doing our jobs.”

Defensive end/long snapper Rob Ninkovich: “I’m not even getting into that, because really I’m focused on what I have to do, and that’s get better today. Practice for the biggest game of my life. I’m moving on from that — I have nothing to say about that. I’m going to focus in on what my job is and that’s to play good football. I’m not even thinking about anything from the past. I’m thinking about the future.

“The only time I touch a football is if I recover it or if I’m snapping it. Or intercept it. Or causing fumbles. I’m past that. I’m looking forward ti another opportunity that you don’t get often. I’m excited — very, very excited to get this week of preparation going, and get gong in the process.”

Cornerback Kyle Arrington: “Well, I’m sure like a lot of guys have said — and I’m no different — that I don’t have anything to do with that process or that nature when it comes to the footballs. I can’t really comment. … We’re only concerned about the guys in this locker room and winning the football game.”

Arrington on whether or not he can tell if its a deflated football: “Well, considering that typically, historically, we all have the worst hands of anyone on the football field, I don’t care what condition it’s in, as long as we can catch it. … I don’t really handle the ball too often. It’s not really my concern.”

Punter Ryan Allen: “I can’t really shed any further light on the whole ball situation. We’re just focused on what we need to do this week and next week to prepare for Seattle.”

Running back Jonas Gray on Deflategate: “I have no idea. I think that’s the one thing about this entire team. We really don’t know anything about the balls and inflation. I didn’t know they even checked it beforehand. It’s one of those things where we just go out and play the game.”

Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Deflategate, Jonas Gray, Kyle Arrington
Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo shrugs off talk of underinflated footballs 01.22.15 at 1:12 pm ET
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Jimmy Garoppolo says he hasn't heard anything about under-inflated footballs. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Jimmy Garoppolo says he hasn’t heard anything about under-inflated footballs. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — When it comes to footballs, Jimmy Garoppolo doesn’t sound too fussy.

“I came from Eastern Illinois, where we had about four footballs for the entire year,” the rookie quarterback said before practice on Thursday. “So I’ll use whatever footballs they give me. I’ve used the worst balls you could think of in practice. Wet. Snowy. Muddy. Everything. You get used to all that stuff.

“I’m used to whatever,” he added. “A football is a football. You just have to go out there and throw it.”

Garoppolo, who said he didn’t know anything about manipulating or underinflating footballs, echoed the words of Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who said that the footballs get constantly scuffed and worked over during practice in hopes of doing everything possible to get the players ready for every possible circumstance in the game.

“Oh yeah,” he said with a knowing smile. “Yeah — it’s one of those things that when you get in a game and you realize we had way worse in practice. Worse conditions. Worse, whatever it may be. It probably makes the game a little bit easier.”

Garoppolo has a unique challenge this week in that he’s being asked to provide the starting defense with a look that replicates Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson. It’s become old hat for Garoppolo., who said he’s looking forward to trying to “get a title active out there” in hopes of giving the New England defense a good look.

“Each week is a different assignment for me. A different quarterback for me. Try and pick up tendencies, things they try and do. And I try and do my best impression of the guy.”

“It’s part of the job. There’s no real trick to it. You just have to put in the time. Put in the effort and have both mentalities ready to go.”

It’s been an interesting year for Garoppolo, who had never been to an NFL game before this season, is now headed for the Super Bowl in his first year in the league.

“Come a long way, huh? It’s pretty crazy,” he laughed. “It’s exciting. A dream come true. Just have to take advantage of it.”

Read More: Deflategate, Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots, Super Bowl XLIX
Bill Belichick: ‘Shocked’ to hear news about underinflated footballs 01.22.15 at 10:00 am ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick said Thursday morning that he had “no knowledge” of the underinflated footballs until Monday morning and that he was “shocked” to hear the news that there was an issue with air pressure regarding the footballs used in the AFC title game.

“I had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation until Monday morning,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot more about this process in the last three days than I knew — or had talked about — in the last 40 years that I’ve coached in this league. I had no knowledge of the various steps involved in the game balls, the process that happened between when they were prepared and went to the officials and went to the game, so I’ve learned a lot about that.”

Belichick spoke with the media for almost 10 minutes Thursday morning, making a statement about what he knew regarding the situation before taking a handful of questions, and adding that he has “no explanation” for what happened.

“I really can’t think of anything I would have done differently,” said the coach, who referenced prepared notes from the podium. [The entire transcript can be found below]

Belichick deferred most questions, adding that when it came to the matter of the league investigation, “I can’t comment on what [the league] is doing. That’s something you should talk to them about.”

When it came to the level of Tom Brady‘s involvement in the situation, Belichick indicated that the quarterback could better address those issues.

“Tom’s personal preferences on his footballs are something he can talk about in much better detail,” Belichick added.

“It’s unfortunate that this is a story coming off two great playoff victories by our football team and our players, but again we’ve been cooperative with the NFL investigation,” he said. “We’ll continue to do so, and we’ll turn all our attention, focus on the Seattle Seahawks, a very well-coached, talented, tough football team.”

Here is the transcript of Bill Belichick’s entire opening comments on Deflategate:

“All right, I’ll start off by addressing the football issue here. When I came in Monday morning, I was shocked to learn of the news reports about the footballs. I had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation whatsoever until Monday morning. I’d say I’ve learned a lot more about this process in the last three days than I know, or had talked about it, in the last 40 years that I’ve coached in this league.

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Read More: 2015 NFL playoffs, Bill Belichick, Deflategate, New England Patriots
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