'DEFLATE GATE': Belichick: 'No explanation for what happened'
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick opened his Thursday press conference with an eight-minute statement intended to let the air out of Deflategate.
"I don't have an explanation for what happened," Belichick said, and then repeated during a barrage of questions at Gillette Stadium that included questions about why controversy seems to follow him and how he could explain "accidental deflation" of footballs.
The NFL is continuing its investigation while Belichick attempts to shift the focus in Foxborough to Super Bowl XLIX. The media sharply focused on the drama stemming from Sunday's win over the Indianapolis Colts and the investigation that followed into the deflated state of 11 of the 12 game balls used by the Patriots.
Belichick did not take one question related to the Super Bowl or the Seattle Seahawks.
"When I came in Monday morning I was shocked to learn of the news of course about the footballs," he said. "I had no knowledge whatsoever about this process. I had no knowledge of the various steps involved in the game balls and the process they went through from between when they were prepared and when they went to the officials. I had no idea what they went through."
Game balls, 12 per team, are approved by the officiating crew and then in the possession of a game-day ball attendant. The person is typically the same for all home games. The Colts aired questions about the inflation rate of footballs after their November loss to the Patriots and again in the second quarter of the AFC Championship game on Sunday after linebacker D'Qwell Jackson intercepted a Tom Brady pass.
"In the future, we will certainly inflate the footballs above that low level to account for any possible change during the game," Belichick said, noting the specifications for inflation to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. "As an example, if a ball deflated from 13.2 to 12.9 it wouldn't matter, but if it deflated from 12.5 to 12.3 it would. We will take steps in the future to make sure we don't put ourselves in that type of situation again."
Former Miami Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino and Hall of Fame coach John Madden said Wednesday the quarterback is most likely to control the condition of the football.
"I think we all know that quarterbacks, kickers, specialists have certain preferences on footballs. They know a lot more about it than I do," Belichick said. "Tom's personal preferences on his footballs are something he can talk about in much better detail and information than I could possibly career."
Belichick said he has a particular disdain for players complaining about the condition of footballs. In practices, footballs have been brutalized and modified for the worse.
"My personal coaching philosophy, my mentality, has always been to make things as difficult as possible in practice. In regards to footballs, I'm sure any current or past player of mine will tell you the footballs we practice with are as bad as they can be - wet, sticky, cold, slippery. We make them as bad as they can be. Any time players complain about the condition of the footballs, I make them worse. That stops the complaints."
Belichick said those preferences and care for conditions of the pigskin don't stretch to game day. He said he cannot recall ever even touching a game ball, allowing that maybe it happened on an incomplete pass that he forgot about.
"In my entire coaching career, I have never talked to any player, staff member about football air pressure," Belichick said. "That is not a subject I have ever brought up. To me, the footballs are approved by league and game officials pregame and we go with what's out there."