Gronkowski Mocks NFL Probe, Says His Spike Deflated Ball

As the National Football League probes whether the Patriots deflated balls in the win that sent them to the Super Bowl, New England tight end Rob Gronkowski offered an explanation on Twitter.

The two-time Pro Bowler posted a photo of himself spiking a ball in an earlier game with the headline: “WARNING -- GRONKING MAY CAUSE DEFLATION” accompanied by a message: “Whoops lol.”

Gronkowski, 25, who caught a five-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter of that 45-7 victory against the Indianapolis Colts in the American Football Conference championship game three days ago, is known for slamming the ball into the turf when he scores.

The Boston Globe, citing an NFL letter it says was shared with the newspaper, reported late last night that the NFL found 11 of the 12 footballs used by the Patriots in that game were not fully inflated.

Each NFL team provides 12 footballs per game that are used when its offense is on the field. Balls inflated to less than the required weight may be easier for a quarterback to throw and receivers to catch.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about the NFL investigation on a conference call with reporters yesterday and whether he had been contacted by league officials.

Belichick’s Response

“Any questions on that you should talk to them about,” Belichick said as his team continued preparations for the Feb. 1 Super Bowl against the defending champion Seattle Seahawks.

Newsday reported yesterday that the Colts first noticed the ball seemed not fully inflated after an interception by Indianapolis linebacker D’Qwell Jackson in the second quarter. Jackson handed the football to a member of his team’s equipment staff, who notified coach Chuck Pagano about the ball, Newsday said, quoting a person familiar with the situation.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson then contacted Mike Kensil, the NFL director of football operations, and Kensil at halftime notified the game officials, Newsday said.

NFL vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said in an interview with NBC’s Pro Football Talk yesterday that he expects the investigation to finish in the next two to three days.

“When you begin getting into things that affect the integrity of the game, every player, every coach, every owner, every general manager, the one thing you want is competitive balance, competitive equity, competitive integrity,” Vincent said. “For a fan, you want to know that everything’s equal.”

In 2007, the NFL fined the Patriots and Belichick a combined $750,000 and took away a first-round draft choice for videotaping teams’ signals in violation of league rules. The illegal practices were discovered after NFL security removed a Patriots employee with a video camera from the sideline during a victory against the New York Jets.

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