With the eyes of the sports world staring a hole through the New England Patriots as reports of “Deflategate” dominate the countdown to Super Bowl XLIX, the Ravens continue to come up in the conversation.
According to Jay Glazer of FOX Sports, the Ravens were the ones who tipped off Indianapolis about the possibility of the Patriots using footballs that weren’t properly inflated. ESPN reported Tuesday night that 11 of 12 balls used by New England were discovered at halftime of the AFC Championship to be underinflated by two pounds per square inch.
Given the Ravens’ strong relationship with former defensive coordinator and current Colts coach Chuck Pagano, it wouldn’t be surprising for someone to have tipped off Indianapolis if there were legitimate gripes.
Head coach John Harbaugh downplayed any concerns about the Patriots using illegal footballs during their 35-31 win that ended the Ravens’ season in the divisional round two weeks ago. A CBS Sports report earlier this week indicated some Ravens players believed kicking balls were underinflated during their playoff game in Foxborough.
“It’s really not something that’s in the forefront of our mind. I can tell you that,” Harbaugh said. “The NFL is doing an investigation. They did call some of our people about it, and as far as I know — I didn’t know exactly what the conversations were — they answered honestly.
“We did not notice anything. We never had a ball that they were using on offense, so we don’t know anything about that in our game. We didn’t have a chance to handle any of their offensive footballs. As far as the kicking balls, it was 20 degrees outside. The balls were softer. Our guys told us during the game, and I just chalked that up to the fact that it was cold. Both teams were kicking the same kicking balls, so I didn’t really think anything of it during the game. Other than that, it’s not something that I’ve really given any thought to at all.”
Harbaugh may have felt awkward commenting publicly about the investigation as he enjoys a solid relationship with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who endorsed the former Philadelphia Eagles special teams coach as an excellent candidate to coach the Ravens back in 2008. However, it’s possible that others in the organization expressed concerns and Harbaugh simply didn’t feel compelled to speak for anyone but himself on the matter.
Asked if the current allegations would cause the Ravens to wonder if similar shenanigans had taken place in the past, Harbaugh had no interest in discussing the hypothetical question.
“As far as in the past, I don’t really want to get into all that,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t have any comment on that.”
Ravens kicker Justin Tucker wrote on his Twitter account Wednesday afternoon that he hadn’t spoken to anyone with the “NFL, NFL Security, or media” about the footballs not being properly inflated in the game against New England.