Transcript for Deflate-Gate, the Latest Scandal to Plague NFL
Did they or didn't they? It's the alleged cheating scandal launching a thousand headlines. Deflategate. Tonight the new England patriots are fighting back against accusations of unsportsmanlike conduct. Did they deflate footballs during their championship game to gain a strategic advantage? With their coach coming under fire again, here's ABC's Ryan smith. Reporter: It's the latest NFL scandal and it's dominating the airwaves. Deflategate. Deflategate. Deflategate. Reporter: From morning shows to talk radio, instead of talking about the super bowl, all eyes are on the ball. This ball. And the claim that the patriots used underinflated footballs last weekend to help them win a crucial game. We're going to begin with that breaking news overnight. The so-called deflategate. NFL sources revealing to ESPN that the patriots did use underinflated footballs. Reporter: Sources telling our sister network ESPN, this is the play that led to the discovery of what is being dubbed deflategate. This second-quarter play has led to many questioning the integrity of the afc champs. D'qwell Jackson, a linebacker for the colts, intercepted a pass by Tom Brady and allegedly felt the ball was lighter than Normal. But it turned out it wasn't just one ball in question. They probably don't know how they became underinflated but the fact that they were 11 out of the 12 balls discovered to be underinflated was certainly a big disappointment. Reporter: NFL sources telling our sister network ESPN, 11 of the 12 balls the team used to beat the Indianapolis colts were inflated significantly below league requirements. And at the start of the third quarter, referees had the patriots' game balls reinflated to regulation size. But if they were in fact affecting the game, was it too late? By this time the patriots were already winning by 10 points. The patriots were going to win that football game. They had the colts' number. And were the better football team. I don't believe the conditions of the footballs affected the outcome of that game whatsoever. Reporter: But former NFL quarterback mark Brunell says there are significant advantages to using a deflated ball. It really comes down to the grip of the football. With a deflated football, it's easier to dig your fingers into the football. It's easier to dig your hand into the football and simply hold on to it. Reporter: Sources revealing to ESPN the balls were underinflated two pounds per square inch less than league standards, making them easier to grasp and catch. So what about the colts player who says, I caught this during an interception, I ran with it, and I noticed something was wrong with the ball? I think it would be hard to do. Maybe someone with that much strength and grip on the ball there's a possibility. But the difference is minimal. I would find it hard to believe that the officials in measuring the footballs measured them incorrectly. Reporter: Scott green, a recently retired NFL referee, explains to us the process before the game. Each team will bring 12 balls and the home team is to provide some additional balls in case of bad weather. All of those balls are checked in the locker room ten minutes before the game. The ball boys pick them up. But during the game, there is no one monitoring the balls. Reporter: Once the balls are handed off to the ball boys, which are hired by the teams, not the league, that's where some say the problem allegedly began. How the ball boys could manipulate the balls, you know, they're pretty busy too, but presumably something in this situation did occur. Reporter: But whoever did this, for Scott, this was a first in his 23 years. I can't recall any time in my career where we had the balls brought into the locker ram and rechecked all the balls. Reporter: Both Brady and belichick responding to the allegations on local radio shows. I think I've heard it all at this point. It's ridiculous. Obviously whatever we need to do to cooperate with them we'll do. So you're not deflating footballs? Can't imagine. Reporter: In 2007, the NFL fined him for videotaping the jets' sideline defensive signals during a game so that they could have an advantage. While the patriots were fined $250,000 for spying, belichick was ordered to pay $500,000 for his role in the scandal. It's over. And we're moving on. It's in the past. We're done with it. Reporter: Turns out they are far from done with controversy. The patriots are back again under scrutiny. And this time the public and their peers are divided. Ex-49ers quarterback, now football analyst, Steve young, doesn't feel this is a big deal. This is one of those dumb things that really doesn't matter. Bill belichick obviously looks for every angle. He does it from game to game. He does a great job finding out weaknesses and exploiting them. Reporter: Many feel belichick isn't playing fair. High school coaches across the country will now have to explain to their players why a team that many feel have cheated will get a chance to play in the super bowl. Whoever made the decision to do that, it's taking away from what they did on the field and it's kind of become a distraction. Reporter: Just yesterday the NFL posted this picture on their instagram, a bunch of deflated super bowl footballs. What some critics are saying is symbolic of deflated expectations of an entire nation. For "Nightline," I'm Ryan smith in foxborough, Massachusetts.
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