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NFL investigating Patriots locker room attendant for DeflateGate

SB Nation logo SB Nation 1/26/2015 Jason Hirschhorn
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The New England Patriots have spent much of the past week answering questions from the league and media regarding whether they knew their football were illegally deflated during the AFC title game. Now it appears the NFL has honed in on a potential culprit, per a report by Fox Sports' Jay Glazer.

According to Glazer, the league has reason to believe a Patriots locker room attendant may have taken the footballs from the officials' locker room to a different area on the way to the field. The league has apparently already interviewed the assistant and may have video, though it is still deciphering whether any actual wrongdoing occurred. Still, the assistant is currently a "strong person of interest."

The NFL has not only specific rules for inflating footballs but also how those balls are handled before and during a game. The league's game operations manual states, "Once the balls have left the locker room, no one, including players, equipment managers, ball boys, and coaches, is allowed to alter the footballs in any way." Accordingly, a locker room attendant moving the footballs from the officials' locker room before the game raises red flags.

Head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have steadfast denied deflating the footballs below the prescribed limit. Belichick offered a possible scientific explanation for the deflated balls, though neither Bill Nye nor the manufacturers of the balls themselves buy it. Perhaps the NFL will find the correct answer from their targeted locker room assistant.

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