Super Bowl XLIX
|Date: Sunday, 1 February. Venue: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona. Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have denied knowledge of a plan to intentionally deflate balls during the win that sent them to the Super Bowl.
The NFL is continuing to investigate claims 11 balls were deflated in the rain-hit 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship game.
“I have never talked to anyone about football air pressure,” Belichick said.
Brady said: “I didn’t alter the balls in any way.”
If you deflate a ball in cold or wet conditions, it provides more grip for the quarterback, and it is normal for both teams to use their own set of balls when on offense.
If the claims are proved correct, it would mean balls used by Brady would have been easier to throw than those used by Colts quarterback Andrew Luck.
“I was completely and totally unaware of this until Monday morning,” Belichick said at a news conference. “That is not a subject that I have ever brought up.
“To me the footballs are approved by the league and game officials pre-game and we play with what is out there. That is the only way that I have ever thought about that.”
Tom Brady – who has thrown 33 touchdowns this season – addressed the media on Thursday afternoon
He added that in future the Patriots would inflate the balls to a higher level “to account for any possible change during the game”.
Brady – who has won three Superbowls – said: “The integrity of the game is very important. I have always played within the rules.
“I get the snap, I drop back, I throw the ball. I don’t sit there and try to squeeze it and determine [the pressure].
“I don’t like the fact that this has taken away from some of the accomplishment of what we have achieved as a team.”
The issue has dominated the early build-up to the Pats’ appearance in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks in Phoenix, Arizona, on 1 February, with the team famously having broken NFL rules in the past.
In 2007, the NFL fined Belichick $500,000 and the Patriots $250,000, along with forfeiture of a draft pick, for videotaping an opponent’s defensive signals.