The Patriots find themselves in the middle of another scandal. And while this time it's not quite at the level of Spygate, the so-called "Deflategate" further tarnishes what Bill Belichick has accomplished in New England.
During Sunday's Colts-Patriots AFC Championship Game, the Colts notified the league that the game ball used by the Patriots' offense seemed under-inflated.
This is an issue because under-inflated balls are easier to throw and catch. Also, each team provides officials with 12 balls prior to the game, the official inspects the balls to make sure they meet league weight requirements, and then each team provides the game boys with those balls for use during the game.
Put another way: Just because the Patriots' offense allegedly benefit-ted from deflated footballs, the Colts' offense wouldn't see that same benefit.
On Monday, Belichick said the team would cooperate with any league investigation, and added that he had know knowledge of deflated footballs. Quarterback Tom Brady called the allegations "ridiculous," while safety Devin McCourty said he didn't care.
For the most part, fans and media teetered between skeptical and apathetic, even with the Patriots' again cast as the villain. But by Tuesday night, ESPN's Chris Mortensen was told by a league source that 11 of the 12 Patriots' footballs were "were inflated significantly less than the NFL requires."
One source told Mortensen that the league was "disappointed ... angry ... distraught."
There's also this: Officials handle the ball before and after every snap. How did no one notice until a member of the Colts brought it to the league's attention?
For now, we wait.
"We have been in complete cooperation with the league and will continue to do so," Patriots spokesman Stacey James said.
The league could have a ruling by the end of the week, though it's not clear what the punishment might be.
Here's Patriots special teams captain Matthew Slater on Tuesday: "(We) try to do things the right way. We work hard at our jobs, our professions, to be successful and it's unfortunate that things like this come up, but that's life, that's the world we live in."