Bill Belichick: Patriots followed every rule to the letter

  • By Around The NFL staff
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New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick called a surprise press conference Saturday to further explain his team's activities that led to the league's investigation if the Patriots intentionally deflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game against the Colts.

"At no time was there any intent -- whatsoever -- to try and compromise the integrity of the game," Belichick said.

"I believe now, 100 percent, that I have personally and (the Patriots) have absolutely followed every rule to the letter," he added.

Belichick defended his team's integrity with aggression. He also admitted that he was "embarrassed" how much time he spent on the topic this week in order to understand what happened.

Belichick went on to explain in great detail the process the team goes through to prepare footballs for a game and explained why a football's PSI could change due to atmospheric conditions.

"It's similar to the concept of when you get into your car and the light comes on and it says low tire pressure, because the car has been sitting in the driveway outside overnight, and you start it up and start driving it, and the light goes off -- it's a similar concept to that.

"So the atmospheric conditions, as well as the true equilibrium of the ball, is critical to the measurement. In no, at no time were any of our footballs prepared anywhere other than in the locker room or in an area very close to that. Never in a heated room or heated condition that has absolutely never taken place to anyone's knowledge or to anyone's recollection -- that just didn't happen."

Some other highlights from Belichick's presser:

» The coach said that neither he nor his players tried to gain any advantages in the process.

"We err on the side of caution. It's been that way now for many years. Anything that's close, we stay as far away from the line as we can. In this case, I can say that we are, as far as I know, everything that I can do, we did everything as right as we could do it. We welcome the league's investigation into this matter."

» Belichick explained that as part of the investigation his quarterbacks were asked to take balls filled to different PSI levels and guess whether they were inflated differently. The Patriots found it wasn't easy to determine.

"We had our quarterbacks look at a number of footballs, and they were unable to differentiate a one-pound-per-square-inch difference in those footballs. They were unable to do it. On a two-pound differential, there was some degree of differentiation but certainly not a consistent one. Couple ones they can pick out, but they were also wrong in some of the other ones that they had.

"So, you're welcome to do that yourself. I can tell you from all of the footballs that I've handled over the last week, I can't tell the difference that there is a one-pound difference or a half-pound difference in any of the footballs."

» He vigorously defended his players from any sort of claim that this incident should tarnish their season.

"They're a physically and mentally tough team that works hard, that trains hard, that prepares hard, and have met every challenge that I've put in front of them. And I know that because I work them every day. This team was the best team of the AFC during the regular season. We won two games in the playoffs against two good football teams. Best team in the postseason. And that's what this team is. I know that because I've been with them every day and I am proud of this team."

» Belichick took pains to describe the detail in which he went through the process.

"There are a lot of variables that I was unaware of (prior to the investigation). It sounds simple and I'm not trying to say we are trying to land a guy on the moon, but there is a lot of things here that are a little hard to get a handle on and again there is a variance in so many of these things."

» Clearly, this it a complex subject when you get down to the scientific minutia. Belichick even used a "My Cousin Vinny" reference to explain that even after going through the process carefully, he doesn't have all the answers.

"I'm not a scientist. I'm not an expert in footballs. I'm not an expert in football measurements. I'm just telling you what I know. I would not say I'm Mona Lisa Vito of the football world, as she was in the car-expertise area."

» The coach added that the investigation took some time away from preparing for the Super Bowl.

"I'm embarrassed to talk about the amount of time that I've put into this relative to the other important challenge in front of us."

» Belichick said Saturday was the last time he plans on addressing the issue:

"We have a huge game, a huge challenge for our football team that is where that focus is going to go. I've spent more than enough time on this."