Like all great soap operas, it’s easy to lose track of where all the drama began. Here, thanks to the massive amount of paper filed by the NFL player’s union in federal court, is a piece of Ballghazi’s birth, first pointed out by the Boston Globe’s Ben Volin. It’s Jan. 17, 2015, and Indianapolis Colts equipment manager Sean Sullivan sent this email to Colts general manager Ryan Grigson—passing along some information about the Patriots’ reputation, as well as some insight given by a Ravens coordinator.

Grigson sent this email about that on Jan. 17. The emails don’t show to whom this was sent.

But a few hours later came this reply from the NFL’s senior vice president of football operations.


Grigson appreciated that response.


There’s no more activity on the email chain until Feb. 20, when Grigson forwards the emails to the team’s vice president and general counsel. It was three days after ESPN’s Outside the Lines reported that a Patriots locker room attendant had tried to introduce an “unapproved” football into the the AFC Championship.

The emails, as filed with the court, are below.

Image via Associated Press