Jan. 18 (AFC Championship Game): The Patriots defeat the Colts 45-7. But after the second-half kickoff, game officials replaced the 12 balls that were used in the first half with 12 backup balls that had been approved before game time, which drew questions.
Jan. 19: KTHR Colts reporter Bob Kravitz tweets that the Patriots would be investigated for reportedly deflating footballs. Asked about the issue, coach Bill Belichick says, "I really don't know what to say or know anything about what we're talking about here. Whatever it is, we'll cooperate with them the best we can." On his weekly radio hit for WEEI, Brady calls the accusations "ridiculous."
Jan. 20: Newsday reports the Colts noticed something unusual after an interception by Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson in the second quarter. Jackson gave the ball to a member of the Colts' equipment staff, who noticed the ball seemed underinflated and notified coach Chuck Pagano.
Jan. 20: ESPN's Chris Mortensen reports that 11 of the 12 balls used in the first half of the game were significantly underinflated.
Jan. 23: Belichick addresses media and says the Patriots are cooperating with the league. "I have no explanation for what happened. That's what they're looking into." Brady, in an appearance a few hours later, says, "I didn't alter the ball in any way." He says he had yet to talk to the NFL.
Jan. 23: The league issues a statement that an investigation is ongoing, with executive vice president Jeff Pash and Ted Wells leading the probe. (Wells led the league's investigation into allegations of workplace misconduct with the Dolphins in November 2013.) The investigation was to also look into the chain-of-custody protocol for all game personnel.
Jan. 23: Jackson tells the Indianapolis Star that he had nothing to do with tipping off the league to underinflated balls. Jackson said he gave the ball to the Colts' equipment staff to save for him as a "souvenir."
Jan. 23: Colts general manager Ryan Grigson declines comment on who notified the league about potential deflation.
Jan. 24: Belichick, in another news conference, discusses the science behind the PSI rates and detailing the Patriots' process for preparing balls, saying that the team's process of getting balls ready raised the air pressure by one pound per square inch. He then discusses putting his QBs through tests to see if they could tell the difference in balls at different air pressures. He insisted the balls weren't prepared in a heated room, or treated in any unique way. A clearly irritated Belichick then cites "My Cousin Vinny" character Mona Lisa Vito. "I'm not a scientist. I'm not an expert on footballs or football measurements. I'm just telling you what I know," Belichick said. "I would not say I'm the Mona Lisa Vito of the football world as she was in the car expertise area."
Jan. 26: FoxSports reports that league investigators have interviewed a Patriots' locker room attendant who was seen on surveillance video taking the footballs from the officials' locker room into another room at Gillette Stadium before bringing them out to the field before kickoff against the Colts. ProFootballTalk.com then says the attendant was captured on video carrying two bags of balls into the bathroom and exiting the bathroom 90 seconds later. The report says the surveillance video was given by the Patriots to the NFL early in the investigation. The locker room attendant has not been identified.
Jan. 26: When the Patriots arrive in Arizona for the Super Bowl, owner Robert Kraft tells reporters, "It bothers me greatly that their reputations and integrity -- and by association, that of our team -- has been called into question this past week. ... If the [NFL] investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope that the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular, coach Belichick and Tom Brady for what they have had to endure this past week."
Jan. 26: Wells says in a statement he expects the investigation to take at least several more weeks.
Feb. 1: The Patriots defeat the Seahawks 28-24 to win Super Bowl XLIX.
Feb. 3: NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent says in an interview for "60 Minutes Sports" that Grigson told the NFL in the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game that the Patriots might be tampering with the footballs.
Feb. 19: At the NFL combine, Grigson confirms the Colts reached out to the NFL in the week leading up to the AFC Championship Game regarding concerns with underinflated footballs. The Patriots and Colts had played Nov. 16. In Grigson's viewpoint, Indianapolis had suspicions from that game that sparked the NFL's actions during the AFC title game. Grigson declined further comment after saying he was simply doing his job to ensure a level playing field. Pagano said any suggestion that the Colts might have deflated the football used by the Patriots was "ludicrous."
May 6: The Wells report is released, and it states the NFL found it "more probable than not" that Patriots personnel deliberately deflated footballs during the AFC Championship Game, and that Brady was probably "at least generally aware" of the rules violations. Among the evidence were text messages between equipment assistant John Jastremski and locker room manager Jim McNally that implicated Brady. In investigating Brady, Wells said he was hindered by Brady's refusal to provide his own emails, texts or phone records. But using Jastremski's phone records, Wells found an increase in the frequency of phone calls and texts between Brady and the equipment assistant shortly after suspicions of tampering went public. After not communicating via phone or text for six months, they spoke six times on the phone over the course of three days.
May 11: Punishments for Brady and the Patriots are handed down, with Brady being suspended four games and the team being fined $1 million and surrendering two draft picks: a first-round pick in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017. Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft criticized the investigation, calling it one-sided and saying Brady has the team's "unconditional support." He admonished the league for the severity of the punishment and for dismissing "scientific evidence supported by the Ideal Gas Law in the final report." Brady would appeal, his agent said.
May 12: The Patriots issue a lengthy, point-by-point rebuttal of the Wells report on the website wellsreportcontext.com. In the rebuttal, the Patriots say the Wells report's conclusions are "incomplete, incorrect, and lack context," and don't factor in scientific evidence. The rebuttal also stated that texts between McNally and Jastremski using the word "deflator" were a joke about weight loss.
May 12: The NFLPA announces that Brady will appeal his four-game suspension, and urges Goodell to appoint a neutral arbitrator. The NFL announces Goodell will preside over the appeal. The union wants Goodell to recuse himself, but ESPN's Ed Werder reports that is unlikely.
May 15: The NFLPA releases the letter officially notifying the NFL of Brady's appeal. As expected, the union asks Goodell to step aside as an arbitrator, as it intends to call Goodell and Troy Vincent as witnesses.
May 15: The Associated Press reports the NFL plans to change guidelines on how footballs are handled before games and will discuss the changes at the owners meetings May 20-21 in San Francisco.
May 15: ESPN's Darren Rovell reports that an E-Poll indicates Brady's personal popularity has slipped to the point where people are nearly equally split on whether they like him or not.
May 15: It's reported that Roderick MacKinnon, the Nobel laureate who contributed to the Patriots' rebuttal of the Wells report, is compensated by a drug company in which the Kraft Group is an investor.
May 17: The website The MMQB posts an interview with Kraft in which the Patriots owner says Brady is innocent and he believes the quarterback because "he has never lied to me and I have found no hard or conclusive evidence to the contrary." Kraft declines to comment on whether he'll go to court to fight the NFL's discipline against the team, his relationship with Goodell and why the team suspended the two clubhouse employees if the Patriots think they did nothing wrong.
May 18: ESPN's Adam Schefter reports there are "back-channel conversations" between the NFL and the Patriots to see if the two can resolve their differences without an appeal of the team's discipline or litigation.
May 19: Goodell and Kraft met, spoke and hugged at a birthday party for CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus, sources tell Schefter. A witness says the men spoke privately at length.
May 19: Schefter reports the NFL asked the Patriots to suspend McNally and Jastremski before the Wells report was released. That time frame matches information released by the NFL on May 11, when the discipline against the team was handed down. The NFL denies the report.
May 19: Saying he doesn't want the rhetoric to continue and is opting to do what's best for the league, Kraft announces he's reluctantly accepting the NFL discipline levied on the team.
May 19: The NFLPA is quick to remind everyone that Kraft's announcement has no bearing on Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension and later, officially asks Goodell to recuse himself from hearing Brady's appeal. ESPN's Chris Mortensen, meanwhile, reports the NFLPA has not received any official notice from the NFL that Goodell will actually hear Brady's appeal, nor has the union been given a date for the hearing.
May 19: After Kraft's announcement, there is quick and widespread reaction that Kraft had traded his decision to back off an appeal for some concession on Brady's suspension. Schefter reports that this is not the case, that the two were, indeed, separate issues.
May 20: Speaking after the NFL owners meetings in San Francisco, Goodell says that Kraft's decision to accept the league's punishment will not affect Brady's appeal of his four-game suspension. Goodell dodged the issue on whether he would remove himself as arbitrator for Brady's appeal, but said he was looking forward to hearing from Brady. Goodell also said the NFL did not ask the Patriots to suspend the employees implicated in the Wells report.
May 22: DeMaurice Smith, executive director of the NFLPA, reiterates to Outside the Lines host Bob Ley that the union wants Goodell to recuse himself from the Brady hearing. Asked if the NFLPA will go to court to try to block Goodell from hearing the appeal, Smith said: "It's our job to make decisions about process that are in the best interest of the client."
May 22: The NFL rejects the NFLPA's motion asking Goodell to recuse himself from hearing Brady's appeal. The decision was expected after Goodell said at the spring owners meetings that he looked forward to hearing directly from Brady.
May 29: It is reported the NFL will hear Brady's appeal beginning on June 23.
June 2: Goodell officially informs the NFLPA he will not recuse himself and will hear Brady's appeal. In a letter to the union, Goodell cited his responsibility under the labor agreement to "serve as hearing officer in any appeal involving conduct detrimental to the integrity of the game." But Goodell also wrote that his mind is "open" and "there has been no prejudgment and no bias that warrants the recusal."
June 23: Brady's appeal takes place in New York with 10 hours of testimony.
July 28: The NFL announces Tom Brady's four-game suspension will not be reduced.
September 3: U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell went too far in affirming punishment of Tom Brady, erasing the quarterback's four-game suspension.
630dJames Walker and Mike Reiss
1071dJohn Parolin, Special to ESPNBoston.com