New York, NY (SportsNetwork.com) - Ted Wells has completed his investigation into deflated footballs used by the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game and concluded that team personnel deliberately tried to "circumvent the rules."
Wells, the NFL-appointed attorney who conducted the probe, submitted a 243- page report on Wednesday.
According to the report, quarterback Tom Brady was "generally aware" that two Patriots employees, locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski, "participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee."
The league investigators found no evidence that Patriots ownership, coach Bill Belichick or head equipment manager Dave Schoenfeld knew of the practice.
"To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship game, would be a gross understatement," Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said in a statement.
Kraft added, "We will accept the findings of the report and take the appropriate actions based on those findings as well as any discipline levied by the league."
The Patriots rolled to a 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game on January 18 at a rain-soaked Gillette Stadium. Reports began to surface in the hours after the contest that footballs were not correctly inflated, which would apparently allow for a better grip in inclement weather.
The Colts complained that several footballs were under inflated. As a result, at halftime, the league tested the air pressure of the balls being used by both teams.
The NFL requires balls to be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. All eleven of the Patriots' game balls tested measured below the minimum pressure level.
Belichick, Brady and Kraft all denied accusations that the team intentionally deflated its footballs.
The Patriots went on to beat the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in the Super Bowl.