The New England Patriots beat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl on Feb. 1, but there still remains questions that need to be answered about Deflategate that began with the Pats’ victory in the AFC Championship Game.
ESPN’s Outside The Lines reporter Kelly Naqi has provided an update to the controversy:
One source said that the attendant assigned to the officials’ locker room, identified as 48-year-old Jim McNally, has been interviewed by investigators for Ted Wells, the attorney the NFL hired last month to lead an investigation into allegations the Patriots intentionally used underinflated footballs on offensive plays in the first half of that game against the Indianapolis Colts, which New England won 45-7.
Three sources said that McNally has worked Patriots games for a decade, and has been in charge of the officials’ locker room at Gillette Stadium since at least 2008. In the first half of the AFC Championship Game, the sources said, McNally tried to give the unapproved football to an alternate official who was in charge of the special-teams footballs. Those footballs are known as “kicking balls” or “K balls.”
The “K balls,” which are inspected and measured by NFL officials in their locker room before the game, are used for special teams, and not by the offenses of either team.
The alternate official, Greg Yette, became suspicious when he noticed that the football McNally handed him did not have the proper markings on it, three sources said. One of those sources added that Yette found it surprising that the officials’ locker room attendant was on the field, trying to hand him a ball, because officials’ locker room attendants don’t typically have ballhandling responsibilities during NFL games. Once McNally tried to introduce the unapproved football into the game, the source said, Yette notified the NFL’s vice president of game operations, Mike Kensil, who was at the game in the press box.
It is stull unknown if McNally is the same locker room attendant who reportedly went into a bathroom with a bag of footballs for 90 seconds before taking them out to the field before the start of the AFC Championship Game.
A few days after the Jan. 18 AFC title game, the NFL brought on investigator Ted Wells to look into Deflategate. In late January he announced that the investigation would go on for at least several more weeks.