Sports Football

DEFLATEGATE

Belichick, Brady still haven't been interviewed by NFL

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady shakes hands with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick before their team plays the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolison February 5, 2012. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady shakes hands with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick before their team plays the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolison February 5, 2012. (REUTERS/Mike Segar)

The NFL has not yet interviewed New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady in the two weeks since the league began investigating whether the team deliberately underinflated footballs, according to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio.

A league source said neither man has been questioned about the Patriots using underinflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game. The NFL is investigating the Patriots after 11 of 12 game balls they used in their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC title game were found to be underinflated.

Before leaving for Arizona to play the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, Belichick said the Patriots had studied and simulated the process of ball preparation, and he believes they "absolutely followed every rule to the letter."

Ted Wells, one of the NFL's lead investigators, said a week ago that "no one should draw any conclusions" and the investigation could last several more weeks.

Wells, who oversaw the 2013 investigation into the Miami Dolphins' bullying scandal, released a statement on Jan. 26, saying: "We are following customary investigative procedures and no one should draw any conclusions about the sequence of interviews or any other steps, all of which are part of the process of doing a thorough and fair investigation. I expect the investigation to take at least several more weeks. In the interim, it would be best if everyone involved or potentially involved in this matter avoids public comment concerning the matter until the investigation is concluded. The results will be shared publicly."

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, in his State of the League address on Friday during Super Bowl week, said the integrity of the league is driving his decisions, and that includes the current investigation of the so-called "Deflategate."

"We want the truth," Goodell said, downplaying his close personal relationship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was recently termed "assistant commissioner" by GQ Magazine. "We take seriously anything that impacts the integrity of the game. We are focusing principally on two questions -- why were some footballs used in the game not in compliance with the rules, and was this a deliberate action?"

The NFL reportedly has retained multiple experts to conduct experiments regarding the effects of temperature and other atmospheric conditions on internal football air pressure. The experts also will work directly with the Patriots to simulate all football preparation procedures.

NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino confirmed a few days ago to reporters covering the Super Bowl the PSI (pounds per square inch) of each ball before the AFC title game was not recorded. Rather, the ball was either given a thumbs up or thumbs down.

"We did review what happened pregame," Blandino said. "From everything that we reviewed and all the information we had, the balls were properly tested and marked prior to the game. There was an issue brought up during the first half; a football came into question. The decision was made to test them at halftime. And now there's an investigation going on, and we can't get into too many specifics."

On Sunday, Baltimore coach John Harbaugh refuted a report that he or anyone in the Ravens organization tipped off the Colts about the Patriots using deflated game balls.

According to reports, the Ravens contacted Colts coach Chuck Pagano, who was an assistant coach for the Ravens for four seasons, to be aware of underinflated footballs before the AFC title game.

"I heard all that -- I couldn't believe it when I heard it," Harbaugh said on NBC's Super Bowl pregame show. "It's ridiculous, it never happened. I never made any call. Nobody in our organization made any call. As a matter of fact, just to make sure I had all the facts, I called up Chuck Pagano this week and asked him, 'Did anybody else in our organization tip you off about deflated footballs?' and he said, 'No way.'"


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