Deflate-Gate: Investigation Closing in on Locker Room Attendant

Amidst all the denials by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, amidst all the bluster and anger Belichick displayed in his impromptu press conference on Saturday afternoon, and amidst his slew of science experiments that he allegedly performed privately to prove that indeed it was merely the Patriots' normal process that sucked the air out of those footballs in the AFC Title Game (as opposed to some sort of underhanded, deliberate, illegal scheme to deflate the balls), it doesn't really change the fact that most of America believes one thing:

The Patriots deployed an underhanded, deliberate, probably illegal scheme to deflate the balls used in the AFC Title Game. This is the bed Belichick has made for himself. His credibility when it comes to bending or breaking the rules is virtually nil.

Amazingly, in a comedy sketch to open Saturday Night Live this past weekend, the latest real-life twist in Deflate-Gate may have been impersonated by art. SNL put the blame at the feet of a locker room attendant named "Dougie Spoons"...

48 hours later, Jay Glazer of Foxsports.com reported the following:

FOX Sports has learned that the NFL has zeroed in on a New England Patriots locker-room attendant in connection with the scandal of improperly inflated footballs used in the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

The person of interest was already interviewed by the league. The NFL is trying to determine whether any wrongdoing by this individual occurred, sources tell FOX Sports.

Apparently, according to Glazer, there is surveillance video of this person in question taking the footballs from the officials' locker room into another room in Gillette Stadium before delivering them to the field. This automatically makes this piece of video footage the most sought after piece of NFL-scandal related video since Ray Rice knocked out his fiancee in that Atlantic City elevator.

(I'm setting the over/under at "4.5 days" before TMZ has this video in hand and posted on their website.)

Meanwhile, Ted Wells, the investigator hired by the NFL, said Monday that he expects his investigation to last at least several more weeks.

"We are following customary investigative procedures and no one should draw any conclusions about the sequence of interviews or any other steps, all of which are part of the process of doing a thorough and fair investigation," Wells said in a statement.

The NFL on Friday released a statement regarding their investigation, saying they had conducted nearly 40 interviews up to that point. Patriots wide receiver Matthew Slater said Saturday that the NFL Players Association has advised Patriots players not to discuss the ongoing investigation, which is probably a good idea considering the most important game of the season is on the horizon.

Also, on Monday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft, upon arrival in Phoenix, took up for his head coach and quarterback, saying the following:

"Given the events of the last week, I want to take a minute to address the air pressure matter before we kickoff this week's media availabilities. I have spoken with Coach (Bill) Belichick. I have spoken with Tom Brady. I have taken the time to understand to the best of my abilities what goes on in the preparation of gameday footballs. And I want to make it clear that I believe, unconditionally, that the New England Patriots have done nothing inappropriate in this process or in violation of NFL rules.

"Tom, Bill, and I have been together for 15 years. They are my guys, they are part of my family. And Bill, Tom, and I have had many difficult discussions over the years, and I have never known them to lie to me. That is why I am confident in saying what I just said. And it bothers me greatly that their reputations and integrity, and by association that of our team, has been called into question this past week.

"As I said on Friday in my prepared statement, we welcome the League's investigation and the involvement of Attorney (Ted) Wells. I am confident that this investigation will uncover whatever the facts were that took place last Sunday and the science of how game balls react to changes in the environment. This would be in direct contrast to the public discourse, which has been driven by media leaks as opposed to actual data and facts. Because of this, many jumped to conclusions and made scarring accusations against our coach, quarterback and staff questioning the integrity of all involved.

"If the Wells' investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope that the League would apologize to our entire team and in particular, Coach Belichick and Tom Brady for what they have had to endure this past week. I am disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and reported upon. We expect hard facts as opposed to circumstantial leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation."

So the Patriots are now fully invested in this from the top down. Ultimately, the person taking the fall for this could be a person getting an hourly wage whose most important non-ball deflation task involves towels or Icy Hot. And this person will either be found in pieces off of Martha's Vineyard or in a new 10,000 square foot mansion on the Cape.

I'd say file this under "Stuff you can't make up," but Saturday Night Live already did make it up past weekend.

Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanCablinasian.


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