Former NFL quarterback A.J. Feeley says he saw the New England Patriots use doctored footballs years before the NFL instituted a rule dictating their preparation for game play.
Feeley, who last played in the NFL in 2011, said that when he was playing for the Miami Dolphins during the 2004 season, he witnessed Patriots quarterback Tom Brady using broken-in balls during a game, although the league mandated that teams use new footballs provided by the NFL. The rule was changed in 2006 to allow teams to use their own prepared footballs.
Feeley says he tried to address the issue with members of his coaching staff and other players on the team at the time.
“Prior to Tommy and Peyton Manning going to the league and saying, ‘Let us doctor our balls,’ we used to all play with the same balls,” Feeley said on 97.5 The Fanatic. “Somehow this beat-up ball from the ball boy was getting thrown in on offense for New England, yet when we were on offense this orange brand new ball was getting thrown in.”
“He’s getting his own balls thrown in on offense,” Feeley said. “That was an issue to me at the time."
The NFL suspended Patriots quarterback Tom Brady four games without pay for his role in Deflategate.
The team was fined $1 million and will lose a first-round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth-round draft pick in 2017 after the league said it was "more probable than not" that Brady knew about two Patriots locker room staff members tampering with footballs.
- Scooby Axson