UPDATE: After the NFL said that they were continuing the on-going investigation with the Patriots and their deflated balls controversy, the league seems to be making progress with the case. According to Jay Glazer of Fox Sports, the league has zeroed in on a Patriots locker room attendant that took the balls from the officials' locker room and took them to a different area. Glazer says that the NFL has video of this locker room attendant with the footballs and have interviewed him. The league hasn't said if he did anything wrong, but he is a strong person of interest.
UPDATE: Super Bowl winning QB Brad Johnson says he paid a bribe $7,500 before the 2003 Super Bowl to tamper with 100 footballs. Johnson's Buccaneers beat the Raiders in the game. It's a shocking admission from the quarterback of the Super Bowl winning team and it's also eye-opening that someone that works in the NFL accepted a bribe to help a team cheat.
"I paid some guys off to get the balls right," Johnson told the Tampa Bay Times. "I went and got all 100 footballs, and they took care of all of them."
The big difference between the Johnson case and the Patriots case is both teams in the 2003 Super Bowl used the same balls. The Patriots were the only ones to benefit from cheating.
UPDATE: According to Chris Mortensen of ESPN, the NFL has found that the New England Patriots did in fact deflate footballs during the AFC Championship game against the Colts. Mortensen reported that 11 footballs were deflated by two pounds each. He says the NFL has no comment at this point and the Patriots are cooperating.
UPDATE: Tom Brady has responded to the claims that New England used deflated balls in the AFC Championship. And he thinks the claims are "ridiculous." He appeared on WEEI radio early Monday morning to talk about the game and the controversy.
"I think I've heard it all at this point," he said with a laugh. Added Brady: "That's the last of my worries. I don't even respond to stuff like this."
The NFL is currently investigating the matter.
The New England Patriots were clearly the better team on Sunday after they clobbered the Indianapolis Colts with ease, moving on to the Super Bowl with a 45-7 victory.
However, New England may have had a little edge in the game. According to WTHR-TV's Bob Kravitz, the NFL is investigating New England's use of deflated footballs. If they are found guilty, they could receive a hefty fine and suffer the loss of draft picks.
The use of deflated footballs would give the Patriots a clear advantage. It was very rainy in Foxboro, and the ball would have been slippery and hard to handle. With deflated balls, grip would increase tremendously.
According to NFL rules, footballs must have between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch when dealing with pressure. Footballs must also weigh between 14 and 15 ounces.
Right before the Patriots' third quarter offensive series got under way, there was a delay that might have been the refs noticing the balls were a bit deflated. In the video below, you can see the refs switch out the ball and see the ball boy place the discarded ball back in the bag. It's obviously unclear why the refs would switch the ball out, but as CBS rules expert Mike Carey notes, there's a pretty big difference with kickoff balls (which are OK to be a bit deflated) and regular, in-game balls.(GIF via The Cauldron)
Back in 2007, the Patriots suffered severe penalties after it was determined that they spied on Jets practices and filmed them. Belichick was fined $500,000, the organization was fined $250,000 and the team lost its first-round draft pick.