FOXBORO (CBS/AP) – In a hastily announced news conference Saturday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said that he is “moving on” from “DeflateGate,” adding that he is confident his team “followed every rule to the letter” in preparing footballs for the AFC Championship Game.
Speaking to reporters at Gillette Stadium, Belichick described in detail how his team prepares its footballs on game day and defended his players from chatter that they made it to the Super Bowl by cheating.
PATRIOTS INTERNAL STUDY
He revealed the results of an internal team study into how the footballs are prepared to quarterback Tom Brady’s liking.
Most of the steps are designed to make them tackier for a better grip, he said, but the process could also affect the pressure inside the ball.
“There have been questions raised, and I believe now, 100 percent, that I have personally and we have as an organization have absolutely followed every rule to the letter,” Belichick said.
‘INTEGRITY OF THE GAME’
“We can’t speak specifically to what happened” Belichick said, but later added “at no time was there any attempt whatsoever to challenge the integrity of the game.”
Belichick said the footballs provided by the Patriots dropped approximately 1.5 pounds per square inch at some point after the team provided the balls to officials, adding that atmospheric conditions may have played a part in the under-inflated footballs.
Atmospheric pressure is a key component to air pressure in footballs, Belichick said, and he denied speculation that the team filled its footballs in a heated environment such as a sauna.
Instead of getting ready for the Super Bowl — his sixth as the Patriots’ head coach — he said he has spent far too much time the past week studying science and learning about how varying conditions can affect a football’s pressure.
‘EMBARRASSED ABOUT AMOUNT OF TIME’
“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,” he said.
“There are a lot of variables. I’m not saying we’re trying to land a guy on the moon, but there are a lot of things that are hard to get a handle on.”
Belichick said the Patriots welcome the league investigation on the matter.
Related: Robert Kraft Addresses DeflateGate
But he seemed most emotional when he came to the defense of his team. Among the questions he and his players have been asked this week is whether they cheated to be in the Super Bowl.
DEFENDING THE PATRIOTS
Belichick rested on his record, which includes a 12-4 mark in the regular season, an 11th division title in 12 seasons, a fourth straight trip — and ninth overall — to the conference championship game, and a chance for a fourth NFL title in his tenure.
“This team was the best team in the AFC in the regular season, we won two games in the playoffs,” he said. “That’s what this team is. I know that because I’ve been with them every day.”
Belichick denied that there is a pattern of rule-breaking or even of pushing the rules to their limit.
“It was wrong. We were disciplined for it. That’s it. We never did it again. We’re never going to do it again,” Belichick said of the scandal that came to be known as “Spygate.” ”And anything else that’s close, we’re not going to do it either.”
‘MONA LISA VITO’
The compelling unscheduled news conference last nearly a half-hour and had some of Belichick’s dry humor, including a reference to Marisa Tomei’s Oscar-winning character in the movie “My Cousin Vinny.”
“I’m not a scientist. I’m not an expert in football measurements,” Belichick said. “I’m just telling you what I know. I would not say that I’m Mona Lisa Vito of the football world as she was in the car expertise area.”
Belichick said he wanted to address the controversy now after educating himself on the subject. He added that he has talked to people on his own staff and members of other organizations as well.
“It’s clear that I don’t know very much about this area,” he said.
‘HANDLED DOZENS OF BALLS’
“I’ve spent a significant amount of time this past week learning as much as I could learn, more than I could ever imagine to tell you the truth, about bladders, air gauges, stitching, pressure, game day ball preparation, rubdowns, so forth.”
The exterior feel of the ball is critical, Belichick said, while the air inside the ball is less of a focus.
“I’ve handled dozens of balls over the past week. The texture of the balls is very easy to identify. The pressure of the footballs is a whole different story. It’s much more difficult to feel or identify,” Belichick said.
On Friday the NFL issued a statement on its investigation, saying it is taking the situation seriously but has not reached a conclusion.
When asked about what the league has done during its investigation, Belichick declined comment.
“This is the end of this subject for me for a long time,” Belichick said.
The Patriots have posted video of the entire press conference on the team’s website.
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