KRAVITZ BLOG: Indy-based NFL official Baltz was suspicious of McNally years ago

Jim McNally
Bob Kravitz

When Deflategate broke wide open, Indianapolis-based former NFL head linesman Mark Baltz wasn’t particularly surprised. More specifically, he wasn’t surprised that lockerroom attendant Jim McNally, who this week got his job back with the Patriots along with equipment assistant John Jastremski, was in the middle of the months-long investigation.

“He always asked for the footballs way, way before he was supposed to get them,’’ said Baltz, who was an NFL official from 1989-2013. Baltz spoke to last week, before the pair was reinstated. “If he could get them 10 or 15 minutes before he was supposed to get them, instead of the usual two minutes before the game – and there were some crews that let him do that – he would do it. I wouldn’t let him take them early, and I think he eventually figured that out because he stopped asking after a while. I probably did 10 to 15 games up there (in Foxboro, Mass.) and those first few times, he’d always ask. I always thought it was very suspicious. He certainly acted in a suspicious manner.’’

Baltz, in fact, said he reported McNally to league officials “six or eight years ago,’’ concerned not only about his early requests for the footballs, but for the way he operated before and during games.

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“For an officials’ locker room attendant, I always thought he was an unusual dude,’’ Baltz said. “Most locker room guys, they sit there and if you need something, they got it for you. When you left the locker room, you’d lock the door and they’d stay right there. The other 31 teams, that’s what they would do. That was his job.

“But McNally, he was running all around like a chicken with his head cut off. Asking for the balls early. What I specifically reported him for several years ago, and I thought this was really unusual, he’d run out on the field with the footballs before the game and the next thing you know, he’s playing pitch-and-catch with (Tom) Brady. Then, next thing, he’s on the sidelines right next to (Bill) Belichick, like he’s a (bleeping) assistant coach or something.

According to reports, McNally and Jastremski will return from the Patriots in different roles from the ones they had before Deflategate. McNally cannot be a locker room attendant or handle equipment. Jastremski can no longer handle game balls. The pair were suspended during the Deflategate mess; the Patriots said the NFL told them to suspend the two men and the league said the Patriots suspended them.

Either way, both are now back – in different roles.

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“He (McNally) was always worried about the footalls,’’ Baltz said. “Always. It was very odd. I reported him to the league, but never got any reaction from them. I don’t think they thought it was a big deal at the time. But (McNally) did things that 31 other locker room attendants don’t do.

“I think McNally did his homework and knew which crews he was dealing with and which crews he could get over on. `Are the footballs ready yet? Are the footballs ready.’ I’d tell him, `Yeah, they’re ready, but when we got out on the field, you can have them.’ Obviously, there were a lot of times when he’s gotten them early and had the time to let some air out of the ball, or whatever he was doing with them.

“All I know is, when he got them (the footballs), he would run. He would take off. Whether he was going somewhere and letting air out, I’m definitely suspicious, but I don’t know for sure.’’

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