We've been monitoring "deflategate" here at Stampede Blue since the story broke, and late tonight ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that the NFL found that 11 Patriots footballs were under inflated by two pounds each during their AFC Championship win over the Colts:
NFL has found that 11 of the Patriots footballs used in Sunday’s AFC title game were under-inflated by 2 lbs each, per league sources.— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 21, 2015
The NFL has specific requirements for footballs, as they have to be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds. For it to be less than that would make it a bit easier to play with in rainy conditions, like was experienced in Foxborough on Sunday night. According to a report from Newsday's Bob Glauber, the Colts first became aware of the under inflated footballs when linebacker D'Qwell Jackson intercepted a Tom Brady pass. The ball was then given to an equipment guy, who noticed it was deflated and notified head coach Chuck Pagano, and then general manager Ryan Grigson was notified before he in turn notified the league.
Ultimately, this had no impact on the outcome of the game. The Colts would have lost no matter what, as they played a terrible game all around and were completely outplayed by the Patriots, deflated balls or not. But this isn't the first time the Patriots have been caught cheating, and they've earned very little room for sympathy in these things. This isn't a discussion at all about Sunday's game - the Colts would have lost either way. Rather, this is a discussion about a franchise that has cheated before now being caught cheating again.
The Patriots likely don't care - they're in the Super Bowl, and if they feel like deflating footballs gives them the best shot at getting there, then they'll do just that. Sure, the NFL may dock draft picks, but the whole goal of the draft is building a Super Bowl team. Guess where the Patriots are right now? And you think they care that much about that draft pick? Until the NFL decides to actually take action against the Patriots to stop their cheating, there's little reason to think the Patriots will stop doing so, especially if they feel it gives them an edge.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots are cheaters. But we've known that for years. Now it just seems like there's another incident that contributes to the perception, as according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, the Patriots were indeed using under inflated footballs on Sunday against the Colts.