BOSTON (CBS) — DeflateGate will never die.
Now, it’s a Baltimore-based former NFL game official named Mark Baltz who’s entering the fray, accusing Jim McNally of “always” acting suspiciously with the game balls and behaving like no other officials locker room attendant in the NFL.
“He always asked for the footballs way, way before he was supposed to get them,” Baltz told WTHR’s Bob Kravitz. “If he could get them 10 or 15 minutes before he was supposed to get them, instead of the usual two minutes before the game – and there were some crews that let him do that – he would do it.”
Baltz told Kravitz that he worked “probably 10 to 15 games” in Foxboro. However, a cursory search of Baltz’s history on Pro Football Reference shows Baltz working just six games in New England during his career, most recently in 2011. Tom Brady was the Patriots’ starting quarterback in just four of those games.
Also — and this report should be taken for what it’s worth — but the Kelly Naqi/ESPN report from February states that McNally has held his job as officials locker room attendant since 2008. By that timeline, Baltz would have worked just three games in which Brady was the quarterback and McNally was working in the officials locker room.
But of course, this being DeflateGate, precision with numbers need not play a factor. Double-digits or six, or maybe four, or, heck, maybe it was just three — what’s the difference, really?
(The Naqi/ESPN report proved to be full of serious flaws — errors which were corrected quickly by ESPN’s Adam Schefter. Also of note: Mark Baltz spoke to Outside The Lines during that time and expressed the same suspicions then that he did to Kravitz.)
Baltz told Kravitz that he reported McNally to the NFL for being an “unusual dude.”
“What I specifically reported him for several years ago, and I thought this was really unusual, he’d run out on the field with the footballs before the game and the next thing you know, he’s playing pitch-and-catch with [Tom] Brady,” Baltz said. “Then, next thing, he’s on the sidelines right next to [Bill] Belichick, like he’s a [expletive] assistant coach or something.”
Baltz said the crews he worked on never gave McNally the footballs early, but other crews (which he was not a part of) did grant that access to McNally, who “had the time to let some air out of the ball, or whatever he was doing with them.”
Pro Football Reference also said that Baltz most often worked with head referee Bill Leavy, who happens to have been the referee in New England last year in Week 7, when the footballs were inflated to 16 PSI — far above the allowable range of 12.5-13.5 PSI. Leavy is no longer an NFL referee, instead moved to a supervisory role. It is, at the very least, an interesting wrinkle.
With McNally (and assistant equipment manager John Jastremski) reinstated with the Patriots in different roles, none of Baltz’s accusations will change much. That includes public opinion, where most folks have made up their mind on what they believe did or did not happen with the footballs on Jan. 18, 2015.
The real conspiracy theorists will note that in those four games started by Brady with Baltz’s football-protective crew in Foxboro, the Patriots went 2-2. That included the playoff loss to the Jets and the regular-season loss to the Giants in 2011, as well as a narrow 23-20 win over Baltimore in 2010. In those three games, Brady combined to go 84-for-138 (60.9 percent) for 933 yards, 5 TDs and 5 INTs.
The juice loses some steam, though, when looking at the other games — a 2007 romp over the Redskins in which Brady went 29-for-38 for 306 yards and three touchdowns.
Baltz’s claims are sure to only add more fuel to the fire that won’t go out, leaving innumerable folks to spew hot air arguing about the air pressure in footballs while continuing to overlook the fact that commissioner of the National Football League lied and cheated throughout the entire process of trying to administer an unprecedented and unwarranted level of punishment to a team and a player on an issue which not once in history ever so much as caused a blip in anyone’s radar.
So it goes in the alternate universe known as “DeflateGate.” So it goes. At least there’s actual football this weekend.