The unscheduled press conference in which New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick addressed the media Saturday regarding accusations that the team deflated balls to gain a competitive advantage was awkward, to say the least.
The Patriots won the AFC Championship game in convincing fashion, 45-7, against the Indianapolis Colts, which secured the Pats’ place in the Super Bowl Feb. 1.
Controversy around “Deflategate” has grown to substantial proportions. To some, it’s a non-story; quarterbacks have been doctoring balls for years. To others, it’s another in a line of cheating accusations brought against Belichick and the Patriots.
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Belichick also met with the media Thursday in what was one of the more laughable press conferences by the usually cool-under-pressure Brady. It prompted more jokes, controversy and discussion.
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Gillette, a big sponsor for the Patriots (the team’s stadium is Gillette Stadium), was even brought into the discussion because the logo behind Belichick and Brady during Thursday’s press conference included the coincidental hashtag #flexball. The hashtag refers to the razor brand’s latest product, not football air pressure.
“Saturday Night Live” produced this parody, which has been making the rounds online:
It was pretty clear Belichick’s intent during Saturday’s half-hour press conference was to quell discussion around the controversy. In reality, all Belichick did was add fodder to the media’s trough.
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Belichick began by saying that he “spent a significant amount of time this past week learning as much as [he] could learn, more than [he] could ever imagine to tell you the truth, about bladders, gauges, stitching, pressure, game-day ball preparation, rub downs and so forth.”
He then went into great detail about everything he learned, such as the following:
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 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 ball, is critical to the measurement. In no, at no time were any of our footballs prepared anywhere other than in the locker room or in an area very close to that. Never in a heated room or heated condition that has absolutely never taken place to anyone’s knowledge or to anyone’s recollection — that just didn’t happen.
Many people were understandably confused. But Belichick was adamant that his team did not cheat, and said he welcomed a league investigation into the situation.
That didn’t stop folks from making fun of Belichick’s handling of the situation, though:
Dude just talked about how “vigorous rubbing” “stimulates something inside the ball” and left. God bless America
— Pablo S. Torre (@PabloTorre) January 24, 2015
This is amazing. Bill Belichick spent time studying football physics while preparing for the Supe. And is reporting back to us.
— Judy Battista (@judybattista) January 24, 2015
Things got even weirder when Bill Nye jumped into the conversation. Speaking to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” Nye said that Belichick’s explanation “didn’t make any sense.” He said that no amount of football rub down could change the air pressure of a ball.
For those wondering if the deflated footballs gave the Patriots a competitive advantage in the AFC Championship game, ESPN put its Sport Science team to the task and says it did not.