INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Ryan Grigson is putting the ball squarely in the NFL’s court.
The Colts general manager has gone silent on the hottest topic in the NFL ahead of next week’s Super Bowl: whether the New England Patriots intentionally deflated footballs in Sunday’s 45-7 victory over Indianapolis that gave them the AFC championship and a trip to Arizona to face Seattle.
“Everything, I’m sure is going to come out in the investigation, guys. Like I said, it’s not appropriate for me to talk about. I can’t do that,” Grigson said Friday when asked if the Colts notified the league about a potential deflation problem. “It’s in the league’s hands. I’m sorry.”
Grigson spoke shortly before the NFL said that evidence shows the Patriots used underinflated footballs during the first half of the game. The league said it wants to find out whether “deliberate action” was to blame, but provided no timetable for doing so.
Underinflated balls in theory could provide an advantage because they would be easier to throw and catch. Under league rules, each team provides balls for use on offense. The balls used by the Patriots were properly inflated for the second half and remained properly inflated after the game, the NFL said.
There have been various reports as to how league officials became aware of the situation and whether Indianapolis tipped them off. Nobody in the Colts organization has confirmed those details.
Last week, Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano said he had spoken to the Ravens staff and NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino about the unusual formation New England used during a divisional-round win over Baltimore. Pagano had worked on John Harbaugh’s staff in Baltimore before taking the Colts’ job early in 2012.
On Monday, Pagano also acknowledged he had spoken with the refs before kickoff against New England, though he did not say whether the air pressure in the footballs came up during the discussion.
New England coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have said they didn’t know what happened and that they were waiting for the league to complete its investigation. Apparently, so is everyone else.
Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson told reporters Thursday at the Pro Bowl that he gave the ball he intercepted to an equipment manager and that he noticed no difference than other game balls. Jackson said he still hasn’t gotten the ball back.
And Grigson wanted nothing to do with the story.
“Before we get started, let me cut you off at the pass. It’s obviously, like I’ve told all you guys, it’s in the league’s hands,” he said as he began the annual postseason news conference. “That’s where we’re at right now.”
Grigson did shed some light on other topics, though.
He confirmed that running back Trent Richardson, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft, had been suspended two games for personal reasons. Richardson was inactive for the divisional-round win at Denver and last weekend’s loss against the Patriots. Grigson did not provide further details.
As for possible retirements, Grigson said the Colts are not pushing receiver Reggie Wayne or defensive end Cory Redding to make quick decisions and suggested both could still be valuable players next season if they come back.
Grigson also said that while the Colts do intend to offer a new contract to Andrew Luck, re-signing the Pro Bowl quarterback is not the top priority this offseason. Luck’s original deal runs through 2015, and it’s a foregone conclusion that the Colts will exercise the fifth-year option to keep him in Indy through at least 2016.
So what is Indy’s biggest offseason priority?
Finding a way to get past their biggest nemesis, the Patriots. New England has not only beaten Luck four straight times and eliminated the Colts each of the past two seasons, they’ve also rushed for 657 yards and 13 touchdowns in the last three games.
“I think the (Chicago) Bulls were at that point one time before they started their run. You know, they had to learn to beat the Pistons, the Bad Boys,” Grigson said. “I think that’s where we’re at. I think we have to figure out, be able to pinpoint those areas because sometimes it’s not just what you think. It’s more than meets the eye.”
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