One of the biggest revelations from the NFL’s massive report on Deflategate is that the Indianapolis Colts sent an email to the NFL asking them to be vigilant about ball inflation levels before the AFC title game.
The email from Colts GM Ryan Grigson contained a note from a team equipment manager telling the league that the New England Patriots are notorious for illegally deflating footballs. Here’s that note (via the Wells report):
“As far as the gameballs are concerned it is well known around the league that after the Patriots gameballs are checked by the officials and brought out for game usage the ballboys for the patriots will let out some air with a ball needle because their quarterback likes a smaller football so he can grip it better, it would be great if someone would be able to check the air in the game balls as the game goes on so that they don’t get an illegal advantage.”
If the league was warned about this, why didn’t they take measures to stop it? They could have informed the Patriots beforehand, but they ultimately kept it in-house. They could have kept an eye on the footballs up until kickoff, but they managed to lose track of them for 10 minutes before the game — a period during which a Patriots employee took them into a bathroom and, investigator Tedd Wells believes, deflated them with a needle.
In a conference call on Tuesday, Wells was asked about this. He said that nothing came of Grigson’s warning because no one believed it.
“No one took the complaint that seriously,” he said, via NFL Media’s Albert Breer. “The complaint wasn’t supported by any evidence.”
The fact that the league didn’t inform the Patriots of the complaint is the basis for Brady’s agent Don Yee calling the whole thing “sting operation” against New England.
While the league had no formal obligation to tell the Patriots, they could have stopped this whole thing in its tracks if they’d taken the Colts seriously.
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