In his Thursday morning press conference, Bill Belichick addressed the allegations that the New England Patriots used deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts. He did so for 11 minutes, with an opening statement spanning over seven.
“When I came in Monday morning, I was shocked to learn of the news about the footballs,” the head coach said in his opening statement. “I had no knowledge of this situation whatsoever. I would say I learned a lot more of this process in the last three days than I knew, or had talked about, in the last 40 years of coaching in this league.”
The league reportedly found 11 of the 12 game balls used by New England during Sunday’s 45-7 win to be underinflated by two pounds per square inch. Each is required to fall between 12.5 and 13.5 inflation range.
“I obviously understand that each team has the opportunity to prepare the balls the way they want, give them to the officials, and the officials either approve or disapprove of the balls,” Belichick said.
But Belichick said that was about as far as his knowledge of the matter went.
“I can tell you that in my entire coaching career, I have never talked to any player, staff member about football air pressure,” Belichick stated. “That is not a subject that I have ever brought up. To me, the footballs are approved by the league and game officials pregame and we play with what’s out there. That’s the only way that I have ever thought about that.”
The Patriots coach, in his 14th year with the team and 40th year in the NFL, said he’s not one to make it easier on his players.
“Let me just say that my personal coaching philosophy, my mentality has always been to make things as difficult as possible in practice in terms of footballs,” Belichick said. “I’m sure any current or past player of mine can tell you the balls are as bad as they can be – wet, sticky, cold, slippery, however bad I can make them, I make them.”
In the past, players have complained about the conditions of the footballs the team uses in practice. Belichick noted that he’s made the conditions more difficult as a result in an effort to temper those complaints.
“I want the players to deal with as hard of a situation in practice as they’ll ever have in a game. Maybe that’s part of our whole ball-security philosophy,” Belichick added. I’m trying to coach the team and that’s what I want to do. I think we all know that quarterbacks, kickers, specialists have certain preferences on footballs. They know a lot more about it than I do. They’re a lot more sensitive to it than I am. And I hear them comment about it from time to time, but I can tell you and they can tell you that there is never any sympathy whatsoever from me on that subject. Zero.”
Belichick said the Patriots will increase the inflation of the footballs above 12.5 PSI in the future to ensure the pressure does not fall below the NFL’s minimum threshold in the 2 hours and 15 minutes before kickoff, where the temperature stood at 51 degrees Sunday.
The reason for the dropoff thenceforth is something the Belichick had no further explanation for.
“The National Football League is investigating the situation. We have cooperated fully, quickly, completely with every request they have made,” Belichick said. “We will continue to cooperate in any way that we can. I have no explanation for what happened. That’s what they’re looking into.”
As the league continues to look into the matter, the Patriots have moved quarterback Tom Brady’s news conference up from Friday. He will now address the media after practice at 4 p.m. Thursday.