NFL says Patriots probably deflated the balls in AFC title game

Wed May 6, 2015 6:14pm EDT
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By Steve Ginsburg

(Reuters) - The New England Patriots probably deliberately deflated the footballs to gain an advantage in the AFC title game in January, and quarterback Tom Brady was "at least generally aware" of the scheme, the National Football League said on Wednesday.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league would consider possible disciplinary action and what rules, if any, need to be changed.

"At the same time, we will continue our efforts vigorously to protect the integrity of the game," he said.

A 243-page report was released by Ted Wells, an attorney hired by the league to investigate allegations that the Patriots purposely deflated the balls used in their 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

"We have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship Game, it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the playing rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules," the report said.

The report also concluded that Brady, a four-time Super Bowl champion and future Hall of Famer, "was at least generally aware" of the arrangement. Brady has previously denied knowledge about the underinflated balls in a scandal known as Deflategate.

Patriots CEO Robert Kraft said he does not agree with the report's findings but would not challenge them.

"While I respect the independent process of the investigation, the time, effort and resources expended to reach this conclusion are incomprehensible to me," Kraft said. "Knowing that there is no real recourse available, fighting the league and extending this debate would prove to be futile."   Continued...

Jan 18, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck (12) drops back to pass against New England Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich (50) during the first quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports