(Jan. 22, 2015) – How much did New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick know about the deflated football controversy surrounding his team?
Absolutely nothing, according to him.
"I have no explanation for what happened," he said during a Thursday morning news conference.
Under normal circumstances, Thursday's meeting with reporters would've been focused on the Super Bowl match-up against the Seattle Seahawks.
These are, however, extraordinary times for Belichick and his Patriots, who find themselves mired in a controversy that has come to be known as “DeflateGate” after his team defeated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 in the AFC Championship Game. After the game, the NFL determined that 11 out of 12 game balls were underinflated.
Belichick said he didn’t know much about the process game balls go through before they hit the field. He knows a lot more about it now, he told reporters.
Belichick said he didn’t know anything about deflated footballs until news reports began circulating on Monday after the game.
“I was shocked to learn of the news reports about footballs. I had no knowledge whatsoever of this situation until Monday morning,” he said.
“I was completely and totally unaware of any of this we’re talking about until Monday morning.”
Thinking back, the coach said he wouldn’t have done anything differently. He did say the Patriots tend to like their footballs on the lower end of the league’s mandated ball inflation rules. Moving forward, he said the team would begin inflating them on the higher end to avoid the possibility of falling out of the range of NFL regulations.
“We will take steps in the future to make sure we don’t put ourselves in that type of position again,” he said.
“My personal coaching philosophy, my mentality, has always been to make things as difficult as possible for players in practice,” Belichick said of the balls his team uses in practice. “The balls they practice with are as bad as they can be. Wet, sticky, cold. However bad they can make ‘em, I make ‘em.”
He said when players complain about the condition of practice footballs, he makes them worse.
“We never use the condition of the footballs as an excuse.”
He said players are more concerned about the condition of game balls than he is.
“Quarterbacks, kickers, specialists have certain preferences on footballs…they’re more sensitive to it than I am,” he told reporters.
“(Quarterback Tom (Brady’s) personal preferences on his footballs are something he can talk about in much better detail. (He has) more information than I could possibly provide,” Belichick said.
“To me, the footballs are approved by the league officials pregame. We play with what’s out there.”
As reporters continued to pelt him with questions about the controversy, Belichick denied any knowledge of the deflated footballs.
“I’ve told you everything I know about the subject from my perspective,” he said several times. “I don’t have an explanation for what happened. I’ve told you all that I can tell you from my point of view.”