Patriots coach Bill Belichick called an impromptu news conference to address the football deflation allegations against his team. What follows are his extensive opening remarks:
“I want to take this opportunity to share some information. I spent a significant amount of time this past week learning as much as I could learn, more than I could ever imagine to tell you the truth, about bladders, gauges, stitching, pressure, game-day ball preparation, rub downs and so forth. I’m trying to be as helpful as I can here and show you what I’ve learned.
“Having coached for 40 years in the National Football League, played for several years, growing up in a football family, being around this game my entire life, it’s clear that I don’t know very much about this area. Over the last few days, I’ve learned a lot more than I ever knew, like exponentially more.
“I feel like this is important because there have been questions raised and I believe now 100 percent that I have personally and we as an organization have absolutely followed every rule to the letter. Now it is a feeling on behalf of everyone in the organization, everyone that is involved in this organization, that we need to say something.
“I’ve talked to and gathered a lot of information from members of our staff. I have talked to other people familiar with this subject in other organizations and we have performed an internal study of the process and I think there’s certainly other things that I can do, maybe other research that can be done.
“I’d say at this time I definitely have enough information to share it with you. And so based on the events of today, I feel now is the time to do it rather than wait. Though, I know this is kind of an impromptu thing, but that’s just the way it worked out.
“First of all, let me start with the process. As Tom [Brady] explained on Thursday, I think the most important part of the football for the quarterback is the feel of the football. I don’t think there is any question about that and the exterior feel of the ball is not only critical, but it’s also very easily identifiable. When I feel a football, I can feel the difference between slippery and tacky. I can feel the difference in the texture of the football of what degree it’s broken in. If you put five footballs out there, which football is broken in the most, which football is broken in the least, that’s easy to identify and that’s in a sense the essence of the preparation. We prepare our footballs over time and we use them in practice. That preparation process continues right up until the footballs are given to the officials prior to the game. That’s when they are finalized, if I could use that word. I would say that in that process, I’ve handled dozens of footballs over the past week. The texture of the footballs is very easy to identify. The pressure of the footballs is a whole different story. It’s much more difficult to feel or identify.
“So the focus of our pregame preparation for the footballs is based on texture and feel. I think Tom went into that extensively on Thursday and he obviously could go through it a lot better than I can because he obviously is the one touching them, but that’s the heart of the process.
“So we simulated a game-day situation in terms of the preparation of the footballs and where the balls [were] at various [points] in the day or night, as the case was Sunday. I would say that our preparation process for the footballs is what we do -- I can’t speak for anybody else, it’s what we do -- and that [preparation] process we have found raises the PSI approximately one pound [per square inch]. That process of creating a tackiness, a texture, the right feel, whatever that feel is, a sensation for the quarterback, that process elevates the PSI approximately one pound [per square inch] based on what our study showed, which was multiple footballs, multiple examples in the process as we would do for a game. It’s not one football.
“When the footballs are delivered to the officials’ locker room, the officials were asked to inflate them to 12.5 PSI, what exactly they did, I don’t know. But, for the purposes of our study, that’s what we did. We set them at 12.5 [PSI]. That’s at the discretion of the official regardless of what we ask for, it’s the official’s discretion to put them where he wants. Again, that’s done in a controlled climate. The footballs are prepared in our locker room. They are delivered to the officials’ locker room, which is a controlled environment. It’s whatever we have here, is what we have there.
“When the footballs go out onto the field into game conditions, whatever those conditions are, whether it’s hot and humid, cold and damp, cold and dry, whatever it is, that’s where the footballs are played with and that’s where the measurements would be different -- possibly different -- from what they are in a controlled environment and that’s what we found. We found that once the footballs were on the field over an extended period of time, in other words they were adjusted to the climatic conditions and also the fact that the footballs, which an equilibrium without the rubbing process after that had run its course and the footballs reached an equilibrium, that they were down approximately 1.5 pounds per square inch. When we brought the footballs back in after that process and retested them in a controlled environment as we have here, then those measurements rose approximately 0.5 PSI. So the net of 1.5 [PSI] back down 0.5 [PSI] is approximately 1 PSI.
“Now, we all know that air pressure is a function of the atmospheric conditions, it’s a function of that. So, if there’s activity in the ball relative to the rubbing process, I think that explains why when we gave them to the officials and the officials put it at 12.5 [PSI] if that’s in fact what they did, that once the ball reached its equilibrium state, it probably was closer to 11.5 [PSI]. That’s just our measurements, we can’t speak specifically to what happened because we have no way of touching the footballs other than once the officials have them, we don’t touch them except for when we play with them in the game. But, it’s similar to the concept of when you get into your car and the light comes on and it says low tire pressure because the car has been sitting in the driveway outside overnight and you start it up and you start driving it and the light goes off -- it’s a similar concept to that. So the atmospheric conditions as well as the true equilibrium of the football is critical to the measurement.
“At no time were any of our footballs prepared anywhere other than our locker room or in an area very close to that, never in a heated room or a heated condition. That has absolutely never taken place to anyone’s knowledge or anyone’s recollection and that just didn’t happen. When you measure a football there are a number of different issues that come up -- No. 1 gauges. There are multiple types of gauges and the accuracy of one gauge relative to another, there is variance there. We are talking about air pressure. So there is some variance there.
“Clearly, all footballs are different. So footballs that come out of a similar pack, a similar box, a similar preparation, each football has its own unique characteristics because it’s not a man-made piece of equipment. It’s an animal skin. It’s a bladder. It’s stitching. It’s laces. And each one has its own unique characteristics. Whatever you do with that football, if you do the same with another one, it might be close, but there’s a variance between each individual football. Footballs do not get measured during the game. We have no way of knowing until we went through this exercise that this was really taking place, so when we hand the footballs to the officials, the officials put them at whatever they put them at, but let’s just say it’s 12.5 [PSI]. That’s where they put them and the air pressure at that point from then on until the end of the game, we have no knowledge of. And honestly, it’s never been a concern. What is a concern is the texture of the footballs, and again that is a point that Tom hit on hard on Thursday.
“We had our quarterbacks look at a number of footballs and they were unable to differentiate a one-pound-per-square-inch difference in those footballs. They were unable to do it. On a two-pound differential there was some degree of differentiation, but certainly not a consistent one. Couple ones they could pick out, but they were also wrong on some of the other ones that they had. So you’re welcome to do that [test] yourself. I can tell you from all the footballs that I’ve handled over the last week, you can’t tell the difference if there is a 1 PSI difference or a 0.5 PSI difference in any of the footballs.
“Again, anyone who has seen us practice knows that we make it harder, not easier, to handle the football.
“And our players train in conditions that a lot of people would recommend that we not drive in. That’s what they do. They are a physically and mentally tough team that works hard, that trains hard, that prepares hard and have met every challenge that I’ve put in front of them. And I know that because I work them every day. This team was the best team in the AFC in the regular season and we won two games in the playoffs against two good football teams, the best team in the postseason. And that’s what this team is. And I know that because I’ve been with them every day and I’m proud of this team.
“So, I just want to share with you over the last week. I’m embarrassed to talk about the amount of time I’ve put into this relative to the other important challenge in front of us. I’m not a scientist. I’m not an expert in footballs. I’m not an expert in football measurements. I’m just telling you what I know. I’m not going to say I’m Mona Lisa Vito of the football world, as she was in the car expertise area, alright?
“At no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to gain an advantage -- quite the opposite. We feel like we followed the rules of the game to the letter in our preparations, in our procedures in a way that we handle every game that we’ve played in as it relates to this matter. We try to do everything right. We try to err on the side of caution. It’s been that way now for many years. Anything that’s close, we stay as far away from the line as we can, and in this case I can say that we are as far as I know and everything I can do, we did everything as right as we could do it. And we welcome the league’s investigation into this matter. I think there are a number of things that need to be looked into on a number of levels. That’s not for this conversation. I’m sure it will be taken up at another point in time. And this is the end of this subject for me for a long time. OK?
“We have a huge game, a huge challenge for our football team, and that’s where that focus is going to go. I’ve spent more than enough time on this and I’m happy to share this information with you to try to tell you some of the things that I have learned over the last week, which I have learned way more than I’ve ever thought I would learn. The process, the whole thing is much more complex and I mean, there are a lot of variables that I was unaware of. It sounds simple and I’m not trying to say that we are trying to land a guy on the moon, but there’s a lot of things here that a little hard to get a handle on and there was a variance in so many of these things.”