Bill Belichick says the New England Patriots “followed every rule” in preparing their footballs for last Sunday’s AFC championship game, offering several potential reasons behind the “Deflategate” controversy that has followed his team during the last week.
The Patriots coach addressed the issue during an unscheduled availability Saturday afternoon, one day after the NFL announced that it has not drawn any conclusions yet on how the team used underinflated footballs during the first half of its win against the Indianapolis Colts at rain-soaked Gillette Stadium.
“I believe now 100 per cent that I have personally and we as an organisation have absolutely followed every rule to the letter,” Belichick said, while acknowledging that he felt compelled to speak up and address the questions raised by the controversy in the past week.
After detailing the organisation’s preparation process and suggesting that weather conditions may have affected the air pressure in the footballs, the longtime Patriots coach emotionally defended his team, saying, “We did everything as right as we can do it. At no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to gain an advantage.”
While describing how the Patriots “simulated a game-day situation in terms of the preparation of the footballs”, he remained adamant that the team had done everything correctly in the process of preparing its game balls.
“When the footballs are delivered to the officials’ locker room, the officials were asked to inflate them to 12.5 PSI,” he said.
“What exactly they did, I don’t know. But, for the purposes of our study, that’s what we did. We set them at 12.5. That’s at the discretion of the official regardless of what we ask for, it’s the official’s discretion to put them where he wants. Again, that’s done in a controlled climate.
“The footballs are prepared in our locker room. They are delivered to the officials’ locker room, which is a controlled environment. … When the footballs go out onto the field into game conditions, whatever those conditions are, whether it’s hot and humid, cold and damp, cold and dry, whatever it is, that’s where the footballs are played with, and that’s where the measurements would be different – possibly different – from what they are in a controlled environment, and that’s what we found.”
NFL rules state that footballs must have air pressure between 12.5 PSI and 13.5 PSI. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said on Thursday that his preference is for the balls to be at the minimum legal level, right at 12.5 PSI.