CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Joe Gibbs said he was shocked when he learned the NFL is investigating whether the New England Patriots deflated footballs to gain an advantage over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game.
The Hall of Fame coach said Monday he never heard of anything comparable happening when he worked for the Washington Redskins from 1981-92 and 2004-07, winning three Super Bowls along the way.
''To be truthful I never even thought it about it,'' Gibbs said of the footballs issue during NASCAR's annual media tour. ''So I think this all kind of was a surprise for everybody.''
The 74-year-old now owns Joe Gibbs racing, a four-car NASCAR racing team based in Huntersville, North Carolina.
The Patriots reached the Super Bowl on Jan. 18 with a 45-7 win over the Colts. Since then, the NFL says evidence shows the Patriots used underinflated footballs during the first half of the game; softer footballs would in theory be easier to throw and catch. The NFL is still determining why the balls were underinflated.
''It's handled totally different than when in the first go-around in the league,'' Gibbs said Monday, exactly 23 years after the Redskins won their previous Super Bowl.
''And the second go-around I didn't pay much attention to it. ... But as far as what happened or how it happened, I didn't have a clue.''
Gibbs said he anticipates the NFL will change its policy on how they oversee who is in control of the footballs prior to a game.
When asked if the Patriots should suffer severe consequences from the league if found guilty, Gibbs shrugged and declined comment.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL