NFL says it’s already talked to dozens about ‘Deflategate’

24 Jan 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Buckley: Patriots essentially issued challenge to NFL.

Foxborough, Massachusetts: The NFL said on Friday it has interviewed dozens of people and collected physical evidence but has no conclusions yet on how the New England Patriots used underinflated balls in their last game, offering no timetable for resolving the cheating accusations with the Super Bowl nine days away. After starting his press conference yesterday at Gillette Stadium by answering five straight questions about the Deflategate controversy, one reporter shifted the attention away and asked the defensive captain a question about the Patriots’ Super Bowl opponent, the Seattle Seahawks.

On Friday, the league finally broke its silence on the story that has taken over the league and threatens to overshadow the big game in eight days, saying that it is conducting an investigation into the 11 mysteriously deflated footballs from the AFC Championship Game, but gave no indication that it will have a resolution soon. “We take seriously claims that those rules have been violated and will fully investigate this matter without compromise or delay,” the statement said. “The investigation is ongoing, will be thorough and objective, and is being pursued expeditiously. . . . Five days into the controversy that has grabbed the attention of the nation, it’s clear these Patriots are more interested in moving on to more important matters. It issued a statement that the Patriots have pledged full cooperation and have given the league information it requested and made personnel available upon request. In the coming days, we expect to conduct numerous additional interviews, examine video and other forensic evidence, as well as relevant physical evidence.” As a result of Friday’s statement, it certainly appears that Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots will likely face no punishment before next Sunday’s game. It’s started at the top as Tom Brady addressed the entire team Thursday, when he urged fellow players to stay focused on the task at hand, and it trickled down.

The statement also leaves the NFL wiggle room to say the balls were accidentally deflated, which would instantly raise questions about Goodell’s ability to oversee an impartial investigation, and whether he should recuse himself from any punishment that might be handed down. McCourty and another defensive captain, Vince Wilfork, were stern in their mission to block out the distractions, something they’ve become quite comfortable in doing over their veteran careers. “Trust me, we’ve been attacked plenty of times, individually and as an organization.

Goodell and Patriots owner Robert Kraft have a close relationship, and fans of, say, the Jets, have complained for years that Belichick and the Pats should have been more severely punished for SpyGate, when New England was busted for videotaping Gang Green’s defensive signals in 2007. It’s not our first rodeo,” Wilfork said. “We have a group of guys who know what it takes to basically ignore the noise and focus on what we’re here for, and that’s playing football. The opening game of the day/night doubleheader began at a little after 9:30 yesterday morning, with Belichick stating over and over, and in no uncertain terms, that he has no idea what happens with a football before the game starts.

Also, in 2012 Kraft pushed for Goodell’s massive contract renewal, which runs through March of 2019 and has been reported to be worth about $44 million a year. Says Teri Thompson, the managing editor of sports for the New York Daily News and an award-winning investigative reporter, “It can be a noun or a verb.

Goodell has already been under fire for his unilateral handling of player discipline issues, with many calling for his ouster following the Ray Rice case earlier this season. After a blowout loss in Week 4 to Kansas City, they endured a week of second-guessing on matters such as Brady’s age and ability plus whether the team’s reign of success was all done. And that’s the only way I have ever thought about that. “Tom’s personal preferences . . . on his footballs is something that he can talk about in much better detail and information than I could possibly provide,” said the coach.

The NFL Players Association filed a grievance Thursday, arguing that the NFL’s unilaterally implemented personal conduct policy is an issue for collective bargaining. As soon as Belichick finished talking, the Patriots announced that Brady, who had been scheduled to speak with the media today, would instead do his session later in the afternoon.

Questions regarding the controversy were met with non-answers and disinterest, a clear sign that they’re ready to move on to the Seahawks, despite the ongoing NFL investigation. “There’s always noise,” veteran offensive lineman Dan Connolly said. “Throughout the season, there’s always something that can draw your attention away from the game. It said guard John Jerry and Centre Mike Pouncey followed Richie Incognito’s lead in harassing offensive lineman Jonathan Martin. “We have not made any judgements on these points and will not do so until we have concluded our investigation and considered all of the relevant evidence,” the league said. “Everything, I’m sure is going to come out in the investigation,” he said when asked if the Colts alerted the NFL to the underinflated balls. “It’s in the league’s hands.” “This isn’t a big deal. Everyone does it because each quarterback likes a different grip,” Nader Kawash, a Philadelphia Eagles ball boy from 1996-2000, told The AP. “I’m not saying a ball boy or equipment guy did anything on purpose to cheat.

Initially, Thompson’s group came up with “GREAT BALLS OF LIAR” following the Brady news conference, but it was ultimately rejected. “We thought, well, you don’t want to condemn him [Brady] as a liar because we are not sure about that based on our reporting and the reporting out there,” Thompson says. “So our sports editor Bill Price, who is a terrific headline writer, a great back page guy, went to work on other possibilities and designs for the page. Everyone will throw out something from the desk, and that includes the editors, the layout people, the copy editors, the website editors, any number of people.

You know it when you hear it.” Given the Patriots’ press conferences were easily the biggest sports story of Thursday, the Daily News completed its back page by about 8:00 p.m. Anybody can do it.” “I didn’t alter the ball in any way,” said Brady, who said he likes footballs pumped to exactly 12 1/2 pounds per square inch, the lower limit. “I have no knowledge of anything, any wrongdoing.” Softer balls are generally considered easier to throw and catch, and quarterbacks, specialists and equipment managers are known to have very individualised preferences in how footballs are readied for games.

Among those interviewed by the league already have been “Patriots personnel, game officials and third parties with relevant information and expertise,” according to the statement. The sports department often collaborates with the front page editors if they are going with sports on the front. “In our afternoon meeting, if they hear a headline that they think is appropriate with the front, they will take it and then we have to come up with a different one,” Thompson says. “The front page takes precedence.” The Boston Herald has also been on its game.

So it’s one of those clever Patriots double passes: From Belichick to Brady to the collective laps of the National Football League’s crack investigative team.

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