Colts GM sent NFL concerns about Patriots before AFC title game
Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson sent an email to the NFL about concerns regarding the air pressure in the Patriots' footballs the day before the AFC championship game, Ted Wells' report on the Deflategate investigation revealed.
In the email, Grigson shared a message from the Colts equipment manager, Sean Sullivan, and said that all the Colts want "is a completely level playing field."
The email was sent to two senior members of the NFL Football Operations Department, who forwarded it to the director of game operations at the NFL. It was eventually forwarded to Dean Blandino and Alberto Riveron, senior members of the NFL Officiating Department, who said they would raise the issue with the game's referee, Walt Anderson.
The message from Sullivan that was contained in the email is below:
As far as the gameballs are concerned it is well known around the league that after the Patriots gameballs are checked by the officials and brought out for game usage the ballboys for the patriots will let out some air with a ball needle because their quarterback likes a smaller football so he can grip it better, it would be great if someone would be able to check the air in the game balls as the game goes on so that they don't get an illegal advantage.
The Wells report also details how during the investigation, Grigson, Sullivan and other Colts equipment staff were asked to explain why they had been concerned about the Patriots' ball inflation.
Sullivan said that when the Colts played New England during Week 11, he examined two footballs that were intercepted by Indianapolis safety Mike Adams. He said that the footballs "appeared to be coated in a tacky substance and seemed spongy or soft when squeezed."
The Colts also "cited unspecified chatter throughout the league that the Patriots prefer their footballs softer than other teams and that visiting teams should be on guard when playing at Gillette Stadium."
Wells' report concluded that Patriots personnel likely manipulated the air pressure of the footballs used in the AFC title game and it is probable that quarterback Tom Brady "was at least generally aware."
- Molly Geary
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