BOSTON (CBS) — On Tuesday, as part of the public disclosure of documents concerning Tom Brady’s appeal with the NFL, an email sent from an Indianapolis Colts equipment manager to the GM of the team that the Ravens’ special teams coordinator had alerted the Colts to a discrepancy regarding kicking balls.
In that same email the equipment manager, Sean Sullivan, said that “it is well known around the league that after the Patriots gameballs are checked by the officials and brought out for game usage the ballboys for the Patriots will let out some air with a ball needle because their quarterback likes a smaller football so he can grip it better.”
This email was present in the Wells report, but nevertheless it was apparently not well-known until this week. The news quickly came to be interpreted by many to say that the Ravens “tipped off” the Colts about football deflation. Yet the Ravens released a statement on Wednesday denying any such activity.
The team’s statement:
“Prior to the AFC Championship Game, no one from the Ravens talked to the Colts about deflated footballs. We knew nothing of deflated footballs. John Harbaugh has been consistent in his answers to reporters about this since he was first asked on NBC-TV at the Super Bowl.”
Ravens head coach John Harbaugh’s statement:
“I’ve been consistent from the beginning when asked about whether the Ravens tipped off the Colts about deflated footballs. I’ll say it again – we didn’t. We knew nothing about deflated footballs.
“As a former special teams coach, I know that members of the kicking group from teams talk to their counterparts all the time about conditions, including field, weather and footballs. I learned this morning that our kicking consultant (Randy Brown) sent a text to Coach Pagano on Jan. 16 suggesting to the Colts that they pay attention to how the officials rotate the kicking balls into the game. Coach Brown’s text did not mention the Patriots and did not complain about anything the Patriots did. The Colts never responded to Randy’s text, and he had no further communications with the Colts on this matter.”
Special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg’s statement:
“On or about January 12, 2015, [Colts head coach] Chuck Pagano called me to ask about a punt-field goal substitution play that New England used against the Ravens in the Divisional game (Jan. 10). At the 10:55 mark of the second quarter at the 34-yard line, New England sent its place kicker (Stephen Gostkowski) onto the field with the field goal unit. This caused us to defend the punt with our field goal block team. The play was blown dead by the officials because the Patriots were penalized for delay of game. Coach Pagano wanted to know about New England’s substitution because the coaching video does not show that part. There was no conversation regarding footballs.”
The Patriots defeated the Ravens, 35-31, in the divisional round before defeating the Colts, 45-7, in the conference championship.