National Football League officials investigating the New England Patriots' use of under-inflated footballs during the AFC Championship Game are looking into possible wrongdoing by a locker room attendant who was in possession of game balls before kickoff, Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reports.
The attendant has allegedly been spotted on video transporting footballs from the official locker room to another location before the balls arrived on the field, according to Glazer.
Later Monday, Pro Football Talk reported that the location the attendant allegedly traveled to is a bathroom, and that the Patriots had submitted a video to the NFL of the attendant in the bathroom for about 90 seconds. The video shows the attendant with two bags, one holding the 12 game balls to be used by the Patriots and the 12 balls to be used by the Indianapolis Colts.
NFL officials have interviewed the individual but are still trying to determine whether the attendant was guilty of any wrongdoing.
Scandals in Sports
New Orleans Saints
Sports history is so full of scandals that this gallery would be hundreds of slides long if we tried to include them all. So here are some of the biggest. Then-Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams boasted about his team's "remember me" shots on opposing players such as Brett Favre and Kurt Warner in the 2009 playoffs. Those hits prompted an investigation into the Saints that found that Williams administered a bounty system that financially rewarded Saints players for injuring members of opposing teams.
In the wake of a sex scandal that led to the indictment of former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky, legendary head coach Joe Paterno was fired by the Board of Trustees after 46 years in the position. Athletic Director Tim Curley had stepped down earlier in the month as questions were raised whether school officials, including Paterno, could have prevented alleged sexual abuse in which Sandusky was accused of abusing eight boys over 15 years. On the day that Paterno was fired, the Board of Trustees also ousted school president Graham Spanier.
The NCAA found itself amid its latest eye-opening scandal on Aug. 16, when it was reported that a Miami booster, Nevin Shapiro, provided thousands of dollars in illegal benefits to past and present Hurricanes players from 2002 to 2010. Currently imprisoned for his role in a $930 million Ponzi scheme, Shapiro revealed that benefits included prostitutes, cars and paid vacations, among others, many of which were known of by Miami staff and coaches. A whopping 73 athletes were implicated in the report.
Reggie Bush and USC
After a four-year investigation, the NCAA hit USC with a two-year bowl ban, four years' probation, the loss of 30 football scholarships and the forfeiture of 14 wins from December 2004 through January 2006 for a "lack of institutional control" that let athletes receive improper benefits. Running back Reggie Bush, whose family got a rent-free home and other lavish gifts from sports marketers, forfeited his 2005 Heisman Trophy. The men's basketball team banned itself from postseason play in 2010 and vacated its wins from 2007-08. Football coach Pete Carroll and men's hoops coach Tim Floyd departed under a cloud for allegedly presiding over the rules violations. The women's basketball and tennis teams were also implicated.
Golf's greatest active player was reduced to tabloid cannon fodder after he crashed his SUV outside his mansion in Florida in the wee hours of the morning. In the wake of the accident came a flood of revelations that Woods had been conducting a string of elaborately-arranged adulterous affairs behind the back of his wife, Elin. Woods' many mistresses came forth with salacious stories and text messages they'd received from him, and the superstar withdrew from the PGA Tour to enter sex rehabilitation. The scandal ultimately cost Woods his marriage and, quite possibly, his ability to dominate his sport.
The blackmailing of Rick Pitino
An FBI investigation was launched when Louisville's basketball coach reported that the wife of the team's former equipment manager was demanding college tuition, two cars, a fully paid house and millions of dollars to keep her affair with Pitino quiet. The woman, Karen Sypher, then claimed that Pitino had raped her. The coach later admitted to a 2003 dalliance with Sypher after hours in a restaurant and that he had paid for an abortion she wanted. Sypher was convicted in August 2010 of three counts of extortion, two counts of lying to the FBI and one count of retaliating against a witness.
After the first week of the 2007 season, the New York Jets accused the New England Patriots of illegally videotaping their defensive coaches' signals. The incident, better known as Spygate, cast doubts on the Patriots' three Super Bowl titles and permanently tarnished coach Bill Belichick's legacy. For the infraction, the NFL fined Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000. The Patriots were also forced to surrender their 2008 first-round draft choice. In 2008, former Patriots video assistant Matt Walsh (inset) sent eight videotapes containing opponents' coaches' signals from the 2000 through 2002 seasons to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
NBA gambling revelations
Tim Donaghy shook the NBA to its core when the FBI revealed to the league that it was investigating the 13-year veteran official for betting on games he worked and providing inside information to professional gamblers and others reportedly linked to organized crime. Donaghy later pleaded guilty to two felonies in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, N.Y., and faced a 25-year sentence and $500,000 in fines. NBA Commissioner David Stern stated the scandal was "the most serious situation and worst situation that I have ever experienced, either as a fan of the NBA, a lawyer for the NBA or a commissioner of the NBA."
Michael Vick's Bad Newz
The star quarterback of the Atlanta Falcons was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges that he and three other men had run an illegal dogfighting ring called Bad Newz Kennels in southeastern Virginia. The indictment contained descriptions of horrific cruelty to dogs and sparked national outrage. Vick lost his lucrative endorsement deals, was suspended without pay by the NFL and sentenced to 23 months in prison for bankrolling the ring, lying about killing dogs and testing positive for marijuana use in violation of his pre-trial release terms.
Rick Tocchet's gambling ring
The New Jersey State Police's four-month "Operation Slap Shot" scored former NHL star Rick Tocchet in its four-month investigation into an illegal gambling ring. Tocchet, an assistant coach with the Phoenix Coyotes under hockey's favorite son, Wayne Gretzky, was hit with gambling, money laundering and conspiracy charges. Gretzky's wife, Janet Jones, and several NHL players were alleged to have placed bets with a ring financed by Tocchet, who pled guilty in May 2006 to charges of conspiracy to promote gambling. He received two years' probation.
New York's unsavory Garden
New York Knicks president Isiah Thomas and his employer, Madison Square Garden, were hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by former team executive Anucha Browne Sanders, who accused Thomas of "demeaning and repulsive behavior." According to the federal lawsuit, Thomas made unwanted sexual advances, berated Browne Sanders with offensive language and turned others in the organization against her. After a tawdry 2007 trial, the Garden and its chairman, Jim Dolan, were ordered to pay her $11.6 million.
Steroids in baseball
Barry Bonds, baseball's all-time home run king, is the puffy face of the steroid era that has sullied such superstars as Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmiero and more.
The married L.A. Lakers superstar was accused of sexual assault by a 19-year-old employee of a Colorado resort. Bryant tearfully admitted to an encounter with the woman, but insisted it was consensual. As sordid details swirled, Bryant faced a sentence of four years to life and a fine of up to $750,000. The case was dropped in September 2004 when Bryant's accuser declined to testify after admitting that she had misled detectives. She had also received death threats after her name and details of her personal life were leaked to the media. Bryant's public apology also swayed her, although she filed a civil suit that was later settled out of court.
Fireballing Danny Almonte led the Rolando Paulino All-Stars to the 2001 Little League World Series, where he pitched a perfect game as his team finished in third place. However, scandal tainted the world of youth sports when the team was stripped of all its victories that year and its Series standing after it was proven that Almonte was actually 14, two years older than the Little League age limit.
After a shocking, nationally televised low-speed police chase along the freeway in Los Angeles, the former USC and NFL star was indicted for the brutal killings of his wife Nicole Brown-Simpson and her friend Ronald Goldman. Although he'd been under a cloud for alleged drug abuse and domestic violence, Simpson was acquitted after a sensational jury trial in 1995. He was later found guilty of wrongful death in a civil case brought by Goldman's family and ordered to pay $8.5 million in compensatory damages. In 2007, Simpson was sent to prison for participating in a robbery in Las Vegas.
The Kerrigan attack
Wanting her competition out of the way in the upcoming Olympics, Tonya Harding (left) conspired with ex-husband Jeff Gillooly and his hired henchman, Shane Stant, who clubbed rival Nancy Kerrigan (right) on the knee with a metal baton during a practice session at the U.S. Figure Skating Olympic trials. Kerrigan was forced to withdraw from the competition, but was waived onto the team. Harding, who placed first at the trials, finished eighth at Lillehammer amid a swirl of controversy before eventually admitting that she had hindered the prosecution of those involved in the attack. She was later banned for life by the U.S. Figure Skating Association.
Eagleson brought down
Alan Eagleson, a powerful agent and lawyer who served as head of the NHL Players Association for 25 years, resigned his post not long after published reports in September 1991 began to describe his shady deals, collusion with team owners and misuse of union funds. One client, former superstar Bobby Orr, found his personal finances had been mismanaged to near bankruptcy by Eagleson, who was charged in the U.S. in 1994 with 34 counts of racketeering, obstruction of justice, embezzlement and fraud. Canada followed with eight counts of fraud and theft in 1996. Eagleson later paid a $700,000 fine in the U.S. and served 18 months in a Canadian prison. He was also disbarred and forced to resign from the Hockey Hall of Fame, where he had been enshrined as a builder.
The Boss pays for dirt
New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner in his blustery heyday was a perpetual scandal machine. He was suspended twice: for 15 months in 1974 for illegal campaign contributions to Richard Nixon, and for life (later reduced to two years) in 1990 after paying gambler Howie Spira to dig up unflattering stories about Yankees slugger Dave Winfield, with whom Steinbrenner had been feuding. Frequent fines for criticizing umpires and league officials, and a revolving door of hired and fired managers also helped turn the staid Yankees into the Bronx Zoo during the late '70s and through the '80s.
Baseball's all-time hits leader was permanently banned after an investigation revealed that he'd bet on baseball games, sometimes as much as $20,000 a day, while managing the Cincinnati Reds. ''Despite what the commissioner said today, I didn't bet on baseball,'' Rose insisted, admitting that he only wagered on other sports. ''I made some mistakes and I'm being punished for mistakes.'' More mistakes and punishment followed, as Rose was jailed in 1990 for tax evasion. It wasn't until 2004 that he owned up to his baseball bets -- while peddling his book My Prison Without Bars .
Wade Boggs and Margo Adams
Boston's five-time batting champ became the face of extramarital canoodling when it was revealed that he'd been singing "Why Don't We Do It On The Road" with mistress Margo Adams for four years. When Boggs cut ties, Adams sued him for $12 million worth of emotional distress, and dished sauce to Penthouse magazine. With fans chanting "Mar-go!", Boggs came clean by going on 20/20 to tell Barbara Walters what a mean old conniving blackmailer Adams was.
SMU gets "death penalty"
The NCAA shut down SMU's football program after a series of major violations, including a sophisticated scheme that saw boosters paying players thousands of dollars. Previously a perennial powerhouse, SMU did not resume football until 1989.
Cocaine in baseball
Dave Parker, a two-time batting champ and the 1976 N.L. MVP, was one of the biggest names in baseball's biggest drug mess of the 1980s. After testifying at the trial of one of his suppliers, Parker was sued in Federal court by the Pittsburgh Pirates, who were irked by the fact that they were on the hook for his $5.3 million salary at a time when the slugger was proving that cocaine was not exactly a performance-enhancing drug. (His production had tailed off and he'd become bloated and prone to injury.) Adding insult to indignity, the team's mascot, the Pirate Parrot, admitted that he'd introduced players to drug dealers.
Ball Four rips cover off baseball
Revered Yankee icon Mickey Mantle was portrayed as a hard-drinking carouser by former teammate Jim Bouton in the 1970 book Ball Four . Bouton's opus created a mushroom cloud of controversy over baseball's presumably squeaky-clean domain by becoming the first best-seller by an insider to reveal that major league players were mostly cretins. (Bouton was publicly chastised by Commissioner Bowie Kuhn and turned into a pariah.) Mantle later admitted to distasteful personality flaws fueled by his voracious thirst for alcohol. Even after his 1995 death, his dark side has lived on, most recently in a salacious, mostly fictitious book by Peter Golenbock.
A two-time Cy Young-winner, the last pitcher to win 30 games in a season (Detroit, 1968) was suspended three times in 1970 for consorting with reputed gamblers with mob ties, dumping water on sportswriters, and packing heat on a team flight. After injuries derailed his career, McLain got 23 years in prison for racketeering, extortion, conspiracy and cocaine possession. His 1985 sentence was overturned two years later and he plea bargained his freedom, but returned to the big house in 1996 for six years on an embezzlement rap.
College hoops point-shaving
College basketball has seen no worse humiliation than the 1951 point-shaving scandal involving players on several teams. Manhattan College center Junius Kellogg's report of a bribe offered by a teammate helped uncover the scandal. When all was investigated and the indictments were handed out, the numbers were staggering. From 1947 to '51, 86 games were fixed and 35 active and former players were accused of partaking in the gambling. Twenty players, as well as 14 known gamblers, were indicted and convicted.
The Black Sox scandal
Veteran ace Eddie Cicotte (pictured) of the Chicago White Sox was 29-7 with a 1.82 ERA in 1919 before he became one of eight key figures in the infamous scandal that broke in September 1920 with widespread news reports of gambling in baseball. Cicotte admitted to a grand jury that month that he'd accepted $10,000 from gamblers to help fix the 1919 World Series in favor of Cincinnati. (He was 1-2 with a 2.91 ERA in 22 innings.) Cicotte and his conspirators were acquitted, then promptly banned from the game for life by Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org
Glazer reports that the locker room attendant is being viewed as a "strong person of interest" in the investigation.
The NFL reportedly concluded that 11 of 12 footballs allocated to the Patriots were under-inflated by two pounds of air pressure during the first half of the AFC Championship Game. Both Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have denied involvement in "Deflategate."
The Patriots defeated the Colts 45-7 to seal a spot in Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks. The Super Bowl will be played Sunday at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.
- Stanley Kay