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NFL: "We have not made any judgments" on Patriots investigation

The NFL says it is continuing to investigate whether the New England Patriots cheated against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC championship game but so far the league has "not made any judgments."

In a statement released Friday, the league said the investigation was launched Sunday night "based on information that suggested that the game balls used by the New England Patriots were not properly inflated to levels required by the playing rules."

The NFL said the league's investigation is being led jointly by NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash and lawyer Ted Wells. The statement said the league has conducted nearly 40 interviews, "including of Patriots personnel, game officials, and third parties with relevant information and expertise."

Tom Brady responds to "deflate-gate" reports

On Thursday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said that he had not yet been contacted by the league.

Patriots CEO Robert Kraft said that he has instructed his staff to be "completely cooperative and transparent with the league's investigators."

In a statement, Kraft said the team "provided access to every full- and part-time employee the league's representatives requested to speak with and produced every communication device that they requested to search. It is an ongoing process that the league and our team are taking very seriously."

The league said it was looking at video, electronic information and other evidence. A forensics firm was hired to assist in the investigation.

"The playing rules are intended to protect the fairness and integrity of our games," the statement said. "We take seriously claims that those rules have been violated and will fully investigate this matter without compromise or delay."

The league vowed that the investigation would be "thorough and objective."

"The goals of the investigation will be to determine the explanation for why footballs used in the game were not in compliance with the playing rules and specifically whether any noncompliance was the result of deliberate action," the statement said. "We have not made any judgments on these points and will not do so until we have concluded our investigation and considered all of the relevant evidence. "

Brady said Thursday that he had no explanation for how footballs used to reach the Super Bowl were underinflated by 2 pounds per square inch.

Patriots coach Belichick denies knowledge of game ball deflations


"I don't know what happened," Brady said, answering questions from reporters hours after Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he almost never thinks about football pressure and doesn't know what happened, either.

"I didn't alter the ball in any way," Brady said.

Many critics doubted Brady's claims -- especially former quarterbacks.

"For the balls to be deflated, that doesn't happen unless the quarterback wants that to happen, I can assure you of that," said former QB Troy Aikman.

Unlike Belichick, who answered questions briefly after a long opening remark by repeatedly saying "I've told you everything I know" and "I don't have an explanation," Brady answered many questions for a half hour and said he doesn't think about the conditions of the ball during games.

"I get the snap, I drop back, I throw the ball," Brady said. "I don't sit there and try to squeeze it and determine that."

He does, however, have his preferences - he likes the football to be pumped to 12.5 pounds per square inch of air pressure, he said. The NFL requires balls to be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. Brady said he never has knowingly played with a ball with less than 12.5 pounds per square inch of pressure.

"To me, that's a perfect grip for the football," said Brady, who will face the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 in Glendale, Arizona. "I would never do anything outside the rules of play."

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