The leader of the NFL's investigation into the New England Patriots' Deflategate controversy said on Monday that he expects the investigation to take "at least several more weeks."
Attorney Ted Wells, leading the NFL's investigation along with NFL executive/attorney Jeff Pash into whether the Patriots intentionally deflated 12 footballs during last weekend's AFC Championship Game, said in a statement that the NFL began its investigation last week, but did not specify when the league learned of the allegations against the Patriots.
Multiple reports have suggested the NFL tried to catch the Patriots in the act -- the Indianapolis Colts and other teams reportedly told the league during the season that they suspected the Patriots were deflating footballs -- rather than preemptively warn or discipline New England.
“We are in the process of conducting a thorough investigation on the issue of the footballs used in the AFC Championship,” Wells said in a statement sent by a league spokesman. “This work began last week, stretched through the weekend, and is proceeding expeditiously this week notwithstanding the Super Bowl. We are following customary investigative procedures and no one should draw any conclusions about the sequence of interviews or any other steps, all of which are part of the process of doing a thorough and fair investigation. I expect the investigation to take at least several more weeks. In the interim, it would be best if everyone involved or potentially involved in this matter avoids public comment concerning the matter until the investigation is concluded. The results will be shared publicly.”
Earlier Monday, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported that NFL officials are looking into possible wrongdoing by a locker room attendant who was in possession of the game footballs before kickoff. Video evidence allegedly shows the attendant transporting the footballs from the official locker room to another location before the balls were taken to the field.
NFL officials have interviewed the individual -- deemed a "strong person of interest" by investigators, according to Glazer -- but have not determined if the attendant was guilty of any wrongdoing.
- Mike Fiammetta