Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson complained to the NFL both before and during the AFC Championship Game that the Patriots were cheating by illegally deflating their footballs.
The Deflategate report released today says that Grigson first contacted the NFL the day before the game, sending the NFL’s football operations department an email stating that Colts equipment manager Sean Sullivan had told him it was commonly known around the league that the Patriots regularly violated the rules by deflating their footballs.
“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,” said the email from Grigson, which attributed that “well known” information to Sullivan.
NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino made a point of telling referee Walt Anderson before the AFC Championship Game to make sure the Patriots’ footballs were checked. But after the Colts intercepted two Tom Brady passes, both footballs were checked on the Colts’ sideline and found to be under-inflated. Word of that got up to Grigson, and he went to league officials to complain just before halftime.
“Grigson said that he made clear to [NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent and V.P. of game operations Mike Kensil] that he understood that there was a problem with the inflation level of a Patriots football—the precise issue the Colts had raised prior to the game—and that he was not happy about the situation. Kensil and Vincent told Grigson that they were on their way to look into the issue,” the Deflategate report says.
Now, more than three months later, the investigation has concluded that it’s more likely than not that those footballs were under-inflated purposely by the Patriots. Grigson was right to complain.