A new report from ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” adds a new twist to accusations that the New England Patriots tried to use illegal footballs during their AFC Championship game win over the Indianapolis Colts.
While previous reports focused on the 12 balls used by Tom Brady and the offence, a new report says the Patriots were caught trying to put an unapproved kicking ball into play during the game.
Kicking balls, also known as “K balls,” are used by special teams and differ from balls used by the offence because they can’t be altered in any way before the game. Teams can alter the balls used by the offence as long as they still look relatively new and have the proper amount of air pressure.
A source for “Outside the Lines” said a 48-year-old Patriots attendant assigned to the officials’ locker room gave an alternate official in charge of K balls a football that had not been pre-approved.
The official reportedly became suspicious when he noticed the ball did not have markings indicating it had been inspected. He also found it strange that a locker room attendant was handling balls on the sideline, something that would not normally happen, according to the ESPN report.
The official then contacted the NFL’s vice president of game operations, Mike Kensil, who was at the game.
To add yet another twist, “Outside the Lines” reports that it was this K ball that led Kensil to personally go to the Patriots locker room at halftime to inspect all of the Patriots footballs. That’s when it was discovered that 11 of the 12 balls used by the offence were underinflated by 1-2 pounds.
This conflicts with the original report that 11 of the 12 footballs were “inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what’s required by NFL regulations.” However, this also conflicts with a more recent report that said only one ball was two pounds underinflated, several were “about a pound under,” and several more were “just a tick below 12.5 PSI.”
It has been a month since the AFC Championship game, and we still don’t know the most important aspect of “Deflategate” — the actual level of pressure in the footballs used by the Patriots. And yet, now we have another ball which could have been illegal or simply a mistake by an overzealous locker room attendant taking on duties he wasn’t supposed to have.
We have reached out to the Patriots for comment.
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