The National Football League on Friday said that a preliminary investigation found that the New England Patriots used underinflated footballs during the first half of their AFC Championship victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.
"While the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs that were underinflated were used by the Patriots in the first half, the footballs were properly inflated for the second half and confirmed at the conclusion of the game to have remained properly inflated," the league said in a news release, its first on Deflategate.
The NFL also said the investigation is being led by NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash and attorney Ted Wells of the law firm of Paul Weiss. Wells was brought on to offer an independent perspective, according to the release.
As part of the investigation, the NFL has already conducted 40 interviews, including Patriots personnel and game officials. The NFL has also hired Renaissance Associates, an investigatory firm with forensic expertise, to review electronic information obtained during the probe.
The statement did not provide a timeline for when the investigation will conclude.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft issued a statement shortly after the NFL released the results of their initial investigation:
On Monday, I received a letter from the league office informing me that they would be conducting an investigation into the air pressure of the game balls. Immediately after receiving the letter, I instructed our staff to be completely cooperative and transparent with the league's investigators. During the three days they were here, we provided access to every full- and part-time employee the league's representatives requested to speak with and produced every communication device that they requested to search. It is an ongoing process that the league and our team are taking very seriously. I very much support the league's desire to conduct a complete investigation and welcome the appointment of Ted Wells to lead the process. Competitive balance and the integrity of the game are the foundation of what makes our league so special and I have the utmost respect for those principles. Our organization will continue to cooperate throughout the league's investigation. Meanwhile, our players, coaches and staff will continue to focus on our preparations for Super Bowl XLIX and the many challenges we face as we prepare for the Seattle Seahawks.