Because the NFL investigation is taking its sweet time (they haven't spoken to Tom Brady yet), and because it'll never reveal anything useful anyway, we're forced to piece together the details and the timeline of how the Patriots' deflated-ball scandal played out. This interview helps immensely: it's an interview with D'Qwell Jackson, the first Colts player to touch one of Brady's alleged soft balls.
We'd already learned that the Colts grew suspicious of the Patriots' footballs during their game back in November, and had alerted the NFL to their concerns. But two pieces of information revealed by Jackson in a conference call yesterday shed more light on how things went down in the AFC Championship: 1) Jackson did not personally notice anything wrong with the ball he intercepted, and 2) Officials took the Patriots' balls out of play in the first half, much earlier than had been previously reported.
Jackson, who claimed he didn't even know there was a controversy until the team flew back to Indianapolis late that night, said he doesn't handle footballs often enough to tell the difference between, say one with 12.5 psi and one with 10.5 psi. "I definitely wouldn't be able to tell if one ball had less pressure than another," he said.
This doesn't necessarily conflict with what was first reported. Newsday's Bob Glauber, who was the first to discover the NFL's investigation, wrote on Monday morning that it wasn't Jackson who first noticed something wrong with the ball, but rather the Colts equipment manager he gave it to after his interception. And sure enough, Jackson said yesterday he handed the ball off because he "wanted that ball as a souvenir."
Much more interesting is Jackson's statement that the Patriots' balls were taken out of play in the first half. Previously, we'd only known that they were formally inspected at halftime.
Jackson does, however, recall one interesting moment during the first half that has something to do with the latest controversy. He recalls, during a television timeout, there was an especially long delay that prompted him to approach an official.
The game official mentioned something about their efforts to locate a usable football. Shortly after, Jackson noticed that the Patriots were using the Colts' footballs late in the first half. Jackson said it was odd to him that New England couldn't find a football to use, especially in the AFC Championship Game.
Interesting! (All of this qualifies as "interesting." Not "nefarious," not "criminal," certainly not "suspendable." It's still a lot of fun to follow, and I am excited to see what comes out next. It's a scandal in every sense of the word, but no one ought to be scandalized.)
Jackson, saying what everyone's been saying (and then been shouted down for saying), declared that ball pressure wasn't why the Colts got mollywhopped.
"It wouldn't have changed the outcome of the game," Jackson said. "They outplayed us. We didn't match their intensity. I don't feel slighted at all personally. They created turnovers, they ran the ball on us. They won that game because of their intensity — not the pressure of a football."
And so ends the Ballghazi controversy. I trust no one will ever talk about it again.