Kravitz: And the DeflateGate investigation, saga continue...

Officials say they took several balls out of play in Sunday's game.
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Let's get this out of the way quickly, and I'll type slowly so that enraged Patriots fans can fully comprehend my words:

The possible deflation of the footballs in Sunday's AFC Championship Game had nothing, zero, zilch to do with the outcome. You know it. I know it. The Colts themselves know it.

Read the original story on DeflateGate

But it's not sour grapes. It's not an Indy-based writer attempting to explain the butt-whipping the Patriots administered to the Colts. It's not any of those things. Not even close. It had no impact on the Patriots' ability to batter Indy in the run game. It had no impact on the Colts' failure to tackle. It had no impact on the way New England receivers came wide open all over the field and caught mid-range passes.

Here is what I reported around 12:45 Sunday night: The NFL is investigating the possibility that the football were improperly inflated. At 7 a.m., Bob Glauber of New York Newsday confirmed with NFL spokesman Michael Signora that the league was, in fact, investigating the issue. Later, it was reported that the Patriots were made aware of the investigation, and Bill Belichick, the Patriots head coach, said he would cooperate with the investigation.

At the time of this writing, the NFL had still not concluded its investigation, still had not apprised the public of its findings.

And so there we are.

In a holding pattern.

The Patriots are going to the Super Bowl, the Colts are going home, and for the time being, there's a cloud of suspicion hanging over Belichick and the Patriots.

Honestly, when I spoke to my source for the story, I originally thought it sounded outlandish, far-fetched.

And then, like a thunderbolt of enlightenment, it occurred to me:

Bill Belichick.

Of course.

The brilliant, Machiavellian mastermind of the Patriot Empire.

You know the history. In 2008, New England was forced to forfeit its first-round draft pick, Belichick was fined $500,000 and the team was fined $250,000 when the league determined the Patriots had illegally videotaped teams at different times between 2002 and 2007. So the Patriots don't get the benefit of the doubt.

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Do I know if the Patriots deflated the footballs? Of course not. I don't have the first clue how the league's investigation will play out. I didn't grip the footballs. I didn't check the air pressure in the footballs. Frankly, I don't know how they would pull off that kind of subterfuge.

That said, ProFootballTalk.com reported Monday that a league source told the site that several footballs were removed from the field Sunday for being under inflated.

"The inflation (or lack thereof) of footballs is checked before each game, and the balls are periodically tested during each game," according to ProFootballTalk.com. "According to the source, it's 'not unheard of' for a ball to be removed from play for an abnormality noticed during the game.

In this case, given that "several" were abnormal, the questions become:  (1) how did it happen?; and (2) was it deliberate?"

According to NFL rules, a ball must be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch and weigh between 14 and 15 ounces. The thought behind deflating a football would be to make it easier to catch and throw, especially in inclement conditions.

More than two hours before the game, officials look at 12 balls from each team and decide which ones are worth using. The balls are then given to a ball attendant. Each team uses their own football.

This is from ProFootballTalk.com: "In this specific case, the investigation will focus on whether the balls were properly weighed and measured by officials before the game started, whether anything happened while the balls were in the custody of the referee, and whether anything happened after the balls were given by the referee to the ball attendant.
The ball attendant becomes a key figure in any investigation regarding ball inflation because the ball attendant is an employee not of the league but of the team."

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Colts first became suspicious of under-inflation during the November 16 loss to the Patriots. Those concerns were especially raised after two Mike Adams interceptions. Their antennae were raised again Sunday after D'Qwell Jackson's interception.

"I've got both those balls at home," Adams said with a smile. "Maybe I should go home and weigh them."

Colts fans react to DeflateGate

For their part, the Colts players I talked to said they didn't notice anything different about the footballs. Jackson had an interception but didn't note any difference in the ball. When Luck was asked whether the ball felt unusual in his hands, he quickly shook his head and said, "No." But, then, I wouldn't expect the players to use possible ball deflation as any kind of excuse for Sunday's embarrassing performance.

Here's what we know for sure: The Colts are light years away from competing with the Patriots. Each time they meet, it's Groundhog Day, one result worse than the last. They need a starting running back. They need help on the offensive line. They need another wide receiver to eventually replace Reggie Wayne. They need some beef on the defensive line, where Cory Redding is contemplating retirement. And even those additions might not be enough to close the rather massive talent gap.

What happened Sunday had nothing to do with the inflation of the football. The Patriots would have smoked the Colts with a beach ball, a hockey puck or a badminton shuttlecock.

Still, the Patriots do not get the benefit of the doubt here. They have a history when it comes to "integrity of the game" issues. And now, there's some  reason to believe history is repeating. Stay tuned. It's might just get weirder. Or, well, it might all go away.

Read more columns from Bob Kravitz