— -- New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said this afternoon that his team will cooperate with the NFL's investigation into whether or not deflated balls were used in Sunday's game against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship.
"We'll cooperate fully with whatever the league wants us, whatever questions they ask us," Belichick said.
The Patriots coach said that he didn't know anything about the claims until he woke up -- well after his team won their place in the Super Bowl.
"I didn't know anything about it until this morning," he said in a conference call with reporters.
Deflated balls may be more difficult or easier to catch, depending on how much air is missing.
This morning, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady called the suggestion “ridiculous” during an interview on WEEI radio in Boston.
"I think I've heard it all at this point ... it's ridiculous," he said. "I don't even respond to stuff like this."
The NFL’s guidelines dictate that a ball must be inflated to about 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch and weigh between 14 and 15 ounces.
"Officials check balls as they go into the game, and if the ball doesn't feel perfect, they can throw it out," former NFL official Jim Daopolous told ESPN. "There is always the possibility that balls can lose air due to the conditions."
Former University of Southern California head coach Lane Kiffin was accused of deflating footballs for a game against the University of Oregon Ducks in 2012 before losing his job during that season.
The minimum disciplinary action for anyone, including the head coach or other club personnel, who is responsible for a non-approved football is a fine of $25,000, according to the NFL's game operations manual.
In 2007, NFL commissioner Robert Goodell fined Patriots coach Bill Belichick $500,000 and the team $250,000 for recording the New York Jets' defensive signals. The Patriots were also stripped of their first-round draft pick.
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