One thing Patriots coach Bill Belichick’s press conference this morning made clear: He’s going to go to his grave maintaining he had nothing to do with deflating footballs in Sunday’s AFC Championship win over the Indianapolis Colts.
During his press conference, Belichick repeatedly said that when his team practices for games that will be held in harsh weather conditions, he likes to make the team practice with footballs that are as difficult to handle as possible.
And this makes complete sense: As someone who has watched the Patriots for years, I know that Belichick is maniacal about having practices simulate what an actual game will be like. When the team’s offense was preparing to play the Houston Texans’ defense, for instance, Belichick let his defensive linemen use tennis rackets during passing plays to simulate the freakishly long arms of star defensive end J.J. Watt. Belichick’s entire M.O. has been to make life miserable for his players during practice, so this part of his story adds up.
This doesn’t mean we Patriots fans should be feeling too happy, because Belichick also seemed to say that any questions about deflating balls should be asked to star quarterback Tom Brady, who is now looking to many as the likely primary culprit in the whole ordeal.
To be clear, we won’t know anything for certain until the NFL comes out with its official report. However, it does make sense that Brady would be the one to oversee the footballs’ deflation since he’s the one with the most to gain from it.
“Nobody, not even the head coach, would do anything to the football unilaterally, such as adjust the amount of pressure in a ball, without the quarterback not knowing,” NFL coaching legend John Madden recently told website The Sports Xchange. “It would have to be the quarterback’s idea.”
Once again, though, this is definitely all conjecture and we’ll hopefully learn more about what really happened once the league puts out its report… but given the way the league handled the Ray Rice situation, we wouldn’t bet on it.