ESPN

Sources: 11 of 12 Pats footballs un...

Sources: 11 of 12 Pats footballs underinflated

Eleven of 12 footballs were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what's required by NFL regulations during the Pats' 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, according to sources.
Sources: Gordon fails another test,...

Sources: Gordon fails another test, faces ban

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon has failed another drug test and now will be subject to a one-year suspension, according to league sources.
Coach K gets 1,000th win; Duke tops...

Coach K gets 1,000th win; Duke tops St. John's

Mike Krzyzewski earned his 1,000th career win Sunday, making him the first NCAA Division I men's coach to reach the milestone, when No. 5 Duke surged past St. John's in the second half for a 77-68 victory at Madison Square Garden.
No. 2 UVa escapes Hokies to stay un...

No. 2 UVa escapes Hokies to stay unbeaten

No. 2 Virginia barely outlasts Virginia Tech, 50-47
Whiteside's 12 blocks help Heat bea...

Whiteside's 12 blocks help Heat beat Bulls

Dwyane Wade scored 26 points, Chris Bosh finished with 20 and Hassan Whiteside had an unconventional triple-double to help the Miami Heat beat the sluggish Chicago Bulls 96-84 Sunday.
Banks died after heart attack, fami...

Banks died after heart attack, family says

Ernie Banks' family has announced that the Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer died after suffering a heart attack.

MSNBC

Belichick on deflated balls: 'We tr...

Belichick on deflated balls: 'We try to do everything right'

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Saying his team "followed every rule to the letter," New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick described in detail how his team prepares its footballs on game day and defended his players from chatter that they made it to the Super Bowl by cheating.

"At no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to gain an advantage," Belichick said in an unscheduled availability on Saturday afternoon, eight days before the Patriots will play the Seattle Seahawks for the NFL championship.

"Quite the opposite: we feel like we followed the rules of the game to the letter," he said. "We try to do everything right. We err on the side of caution. It's been that way now for many years. Anything that's close, we stay as far away from the line as we can."

Speaking once again with authority on a topic he previously professed ignorance of, Belichick said the team conducted an internal study on the process of getting game balls ready.

Most of the steps are designed to make them tackier, which has a noticeable effect on how it feels, he said, but the process could also affect the pressure inside the ball, which is harder to tell by touch.

"I'm not a scientist. I'm not an expert in footballs; I'm not an expert in football measurements," Belichick said. "I'm just telling you what I know."

The Patriots reached the Super Bowl for the sixth time in Belichick's tenure when they beat the Colts 45-7 in the AFC championship game on Sunday. But later that night, Indianapolis TV station WTHR reported that some of the game balls provided by New England for the use of its offense weren't sufficiently inflated.

The NFL said its initial investigation confirmed that some of the footballs used in the first half of the conference title game were underinflated. On Thursday, Belichick deferred questions on the game balls to Brady; the quarterback also denied any impropriety.

Wide receiver Matthew Slater, who also serves as the team's union rep, said Saturday that the players had been instructed by the NFLPA not to comment on the situation.

But in the slow news off-days before Super Bowl week, the allegations received disproportionate attention - and Twitter hashtags such as "Deflategate" and "Ballghazi" - along with comparisons to the videotaping scandal of 2007, when the Patriots were hit with unprecedented penalties after Belichick was caught recording opposing coaches sending in signals from the sidelines.

Belichick denied that there is a pattern of rule-breaking, or even of pushing the rules to their limit.

"It was wrong. We were disciplined for it. That's it. We never did it again. We're never going to do it again," Belichick said of the scandal that came to be known as "Spygate." "And anything else that's close, we're not going to do either."

A football lifer who only seems happy on the sidelines, if at all, Belichick is known for an absolute attention to detail that prepares his team for every imaginable situation.

But instead of getting ready for the Super Bowl, he said he has spent far too much time the past week studying the science and learning about "bladders, air gauges, stitching, pressure, game day football preparation, rubdowns and so forth."

"I'm embarrassed to talk about the amount of time that I've put into this relative to the other important challenge in front of us," he said. "It sounds simple, and I'm not trying to say that we're trying to land a guy on the moon, but there are a lot of things here that are a little hard to get a handle on."

But Belichick seemed most emotional when he came to the defense of his team. Among the questions he and his players have been asked this week is whether they cheated to get to the Super Bowl.

Belichick praised his players, who went 12-4 in the regular season, won an 11th division title in 12 years, made a fourth straight trip - and ninth overall - to the conference championship game, and have a chance for a fourth NFL title in his tenure.

"They're a physically and mentally tough team that works hard, that trains hard, that prepares hard and have met every challenge that I put in front of them," he said.

"This team was the best team in the AFC in the regular season. ... The best team in the postseason, that's what this team is. I know that because I've been with them every day. And I'm proud of this team."

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Follow Jimmy Golen on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/jgolen .

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Weber's 108.5-mph blast gives him h...

Weber's 108.5-mph blast gives him hardest shot at NHL skills

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) Not that they did before, but it's official now: No one wants to get in front of Shea Weber's shot.

The Nashville Predators defenseman fired the hardest shot of 108.5 mph at the NHL All-Stars skills competition on Saturday night, taking advantage of five-time champion Zdeno Chara's absence.

"I knew I got it," Weber said. "But it's tough. You never know how hard it is until it registers on the gun. But it felt like I got pretty much all I could into it, and (you) just kind of hope for the best."

Fighting his nerves since he doesn't practice high-velocity shots, Weber missed the entire net on a 101.8-mph drive with his first attempt. That nullified that try.

Washington Capitals star Alexander Ovechkin - who stole the show at Friday night's draft by pleading to be picked last so he would win a new car - had led the competition with a pair of 101.4-mph drives.

But then Weber stepped into his final shot to win the event.

He said it felt strange with the 6-foot-9 Chara - who holds the record of 108.8 mph set in 2012 - not participating.

"Obviously, he's the guy to beat all the time," Weber said. "He's got the big shot. Honestly, I was nervous because there's some guys out there that can rip it."

The team captained by Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno defeated one led by Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, 25-19. The teams meet in the 60th All-Star game on Sunday.

A capacity crowd roared with laughter, booed former Columbus players such as New York Rangers star Rick Nash, and gave Weber a standing ovation.

"We had a blast," Foligno said. "The boys did awesome. I wasn't sure how it was going to go but we got off to a great start."

The other premier event at the skills competition featured Ryan Johansen of the hometown Blue Jackets winning the breakaway challenge.

Johansen pulled Blue Jackets trainer Mike Vogt's 7-year-old son, Cole, out of the stands to score a goal to the delight of the crowd. In addition, the center endeared himself to Ohio State fans by pulling off his Blue Jackets sweater to reveal a No. 5 Ohio State football jersey - similar to one worn by injured star quarterback Braxton Miller - on his first shot.

Johansen also employed a star-laden V-formation to the net on his third and final attempt.

"On the ice we're out there goofing around, having fun, making each other laugh while showing our moves and skills - things we don't normally do on the ice," Johansen said. "I've really enjoyed meeting these guys off the ice. It's amazing how similar we all are."

Moments after Johansen and Cole Vogt scored their tandem goal, Philadelphia's Jake Voracek did exactly what Johansen did - except instead of a little boy he grabbed diminutive Calgary rookie Johnny Gaudreau and guided him toward scoring a goal.

The breakaway event began with St. Louis goalie Brian Elliott turning his back on an opposing player - Blues teammate Vladimir Tarasenko - and then taking a selfie of the two as the puck went into the net. The crowd again roared with laughter.

Ovechkin, who won the first three of the five times the breakaway has been held, struck out on three baseball swings off high passes from Tarasenko. Patrick Kane, who won in 2012 after donning Clark Kent glasses and a red Superman cape, didn't compete in the breakaway but had the fastest time in accuracy shooting.

In the fastest skater event, in which players were paired off and raced around the perimeter of the rink against the clock, Team Foligno went 5-0 - winning all four races and pocketing an extra point for Tampa Bay's Jonathan Drouin posting the fastest time of 13.103 seconds.

Toronto's Phil Kessel, who was dealt by Team Toews for Tyler Seguin on Friday in a duplicate of a real 2009 deal between Boston and Toronto, surprised many by edging the Dallas Stars star in the first speed pairing of the event.

In a matchup of Blackhawks teammates, Kane beat Toews by breaking four plates at the corners of a net almost 3 seconds faster - in a time of 13.529 - to push Team Foligno to a 10-1 lead through three events.

The two close friends shared a laugh later when they met at mid-ice.

"We're always competitive with each other in all aspects of the game," Toews said. "Tonight, he got the best of me. I had the chance to take it from him, and it just slipped away. It happens."

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Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP

World Cup of Hockey tournament set ...

World Cup of Hockey tournament set for 2016

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) The World Cup of Hockey is making a long-awaited return in 2016.

And the NHL intends to host it every four years.

"We decided that bringing back the World Cup was vitally important," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Saturday during the league's All-Star game weekend festivities.

"We're going to let this evolve. We believe after giving the event such a good start that we're going to build off it."

To begin with, the 2016 tournament will feature eight teams with all games played in Toronto.

The tournament will start Sept. 17 and end with a best-of-three final series, with the last possible date set for Oct. 1.

The World Cup will overlap training camps, and push back the start of the regular season to the second week of October.

The players' union is on board as a full partner.

"We have an opportunity here to build this game, and build this culture and create something that everybody on both sides can be immensely proud of," NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr said. "We view this is a first step, although a very important one."

The league also announced the Bruins and Canadiens will play in the Winter Classic next year on Jan. 1 at Gillette Stadium, home of the NFL's New England Patriots.

The return of the World Cup was the highlight announcement.

It will feature a new wrinkle, with two of the teams made up of multinational players. One team will consist of North American-born players 23 and younger. Another will consist of European-born players whose countries aren't represented.

The other six teams will be Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic and Finland. Teams will be split in two divisions.

The World Cup and its predecessor, the Canada Cup, have been held seven times since 1976 through 2004.

Bettman foresees holding the World Cup every four years and adding more countries.

The timing of the 2016 World Cup comes two years before the Winter Olympics will be held in South Korea. The NHL has not yet determined whether it will allow its players to compete in the Pyeongchang Games because of concerns over travel and time differences.

Bettman said the World Cup announcement "has no bearing on whether we will return to the next Olympics."

Players are excited about the return of the World Cup.

Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane recalled watching the U.S. winning the tournament in 1996.

"We have a lot of pride in playing for our country," Kane said. "Being able to be part of something special as this, especially in a hockey hotbed like Toronto, I think it'll all come together and be a great tournament."

Canada has won five of the seven tournaments, with Russia winning in 1981.

The one caveat players had is they don't want the World Cup to be held at the expense of competing at the Olympics, which NHL players have done since the Nagano Games in 1998.

"Olympics are Olympics," Slovenian-born Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar said. "I don't know if that would be a good trade off."

The inclusion of two mixed national teams intrigued players.

Some wondered how Canadians and Americans can set aside their longstanding cross-border rivalry.

"It definitely would be a little bit uncomfortable," said Calgary Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau, who is from New Jersey. "But at the same time, it would be a great experience getting to play against guys who have been playing in the NHL for a long time."

There would be an even larger mix of nationalities on the European All-Star team, which has the potential to feature players from as many as nine countries.

Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons - the only Latvian currently in the NHL - was stumped by the question of which nation's anthem would be played before games.

"That is a good question. I didn't even think that far," Girgensons said. "Maybe flip a coin."

Each team will play three pre-tournament games, including the potential of some being played in Europe. There has also been discussion of having all eight teams play their final pre-tournament games in Buffalo, New York, a two-hour drive from Toronto.

Bettman provided updates on other topics:

- The NHL expects billionaire businessman Bill Foley to launch a season-ticket drive next month to determine whether there is enough interest to establish a franchise in Las Vegas.

- Seattle Mayor Ed Murray met with Bettman last week to discuss the possibility of establishing a team there. Bettman called it "a nice chat," but noted Seattle lacks a feasible facility for an NHL team.

- The falling Canadian dollar could put a dent into the NHL's salary cap projection of $73 million for next season. Should the loonie stay at its current level of about 80-cents U.S., the cap could drop to $71.7 million.

- The NHL's other outdoor games next year will feature Minnesota hosting Chicago at TCF Bank Stadium at the University of Minnesota on Feb. 21, and Colorado hosting Detroit at Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies, in Denver on Feb. 27.

Blazers' Aldridge puts thumb surger...

Blazers' Aldridge puts thumb surgery on hold, scores 26

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) In a span of just 48 hours, LaMarcus Aldridge resigned himself to thumb surgery, reversed himself and decided to play through the pain, then led the Portland Trail Blazers to victory over the Washington Wizards.

"He can't sit out. He doesn't want to sit out. He loves this game and figures if he's got something to give, he's going to give," teammate Wesley Matthews said.

The Blazers surprised many on Saturday when the team announced on Twitter that Aldridge had decided to put off surgery and would play that night against Washington.

He responded with a team-high 26 points and nine rebounds in a 103-96 win to snap a two-game losing streak.

He was sore after the game but said he was OK.

"I'll just play until it's intolerable. Tonight, I thought it was tolerable," he said. "It was hurting a little but it wasn't too much. I'll just keep going until I feel like I'm not playing as good as I can, or I can't take it."

The 6-foot-11 power forward leads Portland with averages of 23.3 points and 10.2 rebounds. He's one of just three NBA players averaging at least 23 points and 10 rebounds.

Aldridge had said on Thursday that he needed surgery to repair a ligament in his left thumb and was expected to miss from six to eight weeks.

He hurt his thumb when his hand came down on the knee of Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins in the second quarter of the Blazers' 98-95 victory on Monday night.

"You can't say enough," coach Terry Stotts said about Aldridge's return. "That was big time. Not only coming back and playing through the injury but then not favoring it, going hard, not shying away from contact, being aggressive on both ends of the court - I mean, that was big time."

The injury looked like a big blow to the Blazers, who were already dealing with a depleted front line. Center Robin Lopez is out with a fractured right hand and center Joel Freeland is sidelined with a strained right shoulder.

Starting small forward Nicolas Batum left Thursday night's 90-89 loss at home to the Boston Celtics after he aggravated a right wrist injury that had been bothering him. Batum did not play against Washington.

Going into Saturday's victory, Portland had lost five of six games.

Aldridge said the close loss to the Celtics impacted his decision, and that his doctors told him there was "no harm in giving it a shot." In the past two days he'd been able to move his thumb, which also factored into the decision.

"My idea now is to play the rest of the season," he said. "But if it gets too much where I can't handle it or I'm not playing at a very good level then I'll stop. But hopefully it goes well for us."

If he gets through the season, he'll have the surgery in the offseason, he said.

In his ninth NBA season, all with Portland, Aldridge recently moved into second on the franchise list for both points (11,782) and rebounds (5,095). He trails only Clyde Drexler with 18,050 points and 5,339 rebounds.

Blazers guard Damian Lillard said he greeted Aldridge with applause when he came into the locker room after his return was announced.

"I can't even sit here and tell you how big it is just for him to be out there," Lillard said. "Sixty percent, 70 percent LaMarcus Aldridge is better than no LaMarcus at all."

The Blazers embark on a four-game road trip that starts Monday against the Nets.

Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Ba...

Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks dies at 83

Even as the Chicago Cubs lost one game after another, Ernie Banks never lost hope.

That was the charm of "Mr. Cub."

Banks, the Hall of Fame slugger and two-time MVP who always maintained his boundless enthusiasm for baseball despite decades of playing on miserable teams, died Friday night. He was 83.

The Cubs announced Banks' death, but did not provide a cause.

Banks hit 512 home runs during his 19-year career and was fond of saying, "It's a great day for baseball. Let's play two." In fact, that sunny finish to his famous catchphrase adorns his statue outside Wrigley Field.

"His joyous outlook will never be forgotten by fans of the Cubs and all those who love baseball," Commissioner Bud Selig said in a statement.

And on a cold winter night Friday in Chicago, the ballpark marquee carried the sad news for the entire town to see: Ernie Banks. "Mr. Cub." 1931-2015.

"Words cannot express how important Ernie Banks will always be to the Chicago Cubs, the city of Chicago and Major League Baseball. He was one of the greatest players of all time," Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts said in a statement. "He was a pioneer in the major leagues. And more importantly, he was the warmest and most sincere person I've ever known."

"Approachable, ever optimistic and kind hearted, Ernie Banks is and always will be Mr. Cub. My family and I grieve the loss of such a great and good-hearted man, but we look forward to celebrating Ernie's life in the days ahead."

In a statement Saturday, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama expressed their condolences "to the family of Ernie Banks, and to every Chicagoan and baseball fan who loved him." The president said Banks became known as much for his optimism and love of the game as his home runs and back-to-back National League MVPs.

"As a Hall-of-Famer, Ernie was an incredible ambassador for baseball, and for the city of Chicago," President Obama said. "He was beloved by baseball fans everywhere, including Michelle, who, when she was a girl, used to sit with her dad and watch him play on TV. And in 2013, it was my honor to present Ernie with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

"Somewhere, the sun is shining, the air is fresh, his team's behind him, and Mr. Class - "Mr. Cub" - is ready to play two."

Though he was an 11-time All-Star from 1953-71, Banks never reached the postseason. The Cubs, who haven't won the World Series since 1908, finished below .500 in all but six of his seasons and remain without a pennant since 1945.

Still, he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977, the first year he was eligible, and was selected to baseball's All-Century team in 1999.

"After hitting his 500th home run, Ernie summed up his feelings by saying: `The riches of the game are in the thrills, not the money."' Hall of Fame president Jeff Idelson said in a statement. "That was the essence of Ernie Banks. There was no one who adored the Cubs and the city of Chicago more than Ernie."

Banks' infectious smile and non-stop good humor despite his team's dismal record endeared him to Chicago fans, who voted him the best player in franchise history. One famous admirer, actor Bill Murray, named his son Homer Banks Murray.

In 2013, Banks was presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom - by Obama, a noted White Sox fan,. The award is one of the nation's highest civilian honors.

"Ernie Banks was more than a baseball player. He was one of Chicago's greatest ambassadors. He loved this city as much as he loved - and lived for - the game of baseball," Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said. "This year, during every Cubs game, you can bet that No. 14 will be watching over his team. And if we're lucky, it'll be a beautiful day for not just one ballgame, but two."

Banks' No. 14 was the first number retired by the Cubs, and it hangs on a flag from the left-field foul pole at the old ballpark.

"I'd like to get to the last game of the World Series at Wrigley Field and hit three homers," he once said. "That was what I always wanted to do."

But even without an opportunity to play on the October stage, Banks left an indelible mark that still resonates with fans and athletes from all sports.

"Ernie Banks... We are going to all miss you. (hash)Legend," quarterback Russell Wilson tweeted as he and the Seattle Seahawks were getting ready to defend their Super Bowl title.

Banks was playing for the Kansas City Monarchs of the Negro Leagues when the Cubs discovered him in 1953, and purchased his contract for $10,000. He made his major league debut at shortstop on Sept. 17 that year, and three days later hit his first home run.

Tall and thin, Banks didn't look like a typical power hitter. He looked even less so as he stood at the plate, holding his bat high and wiggling it as he waited for pitches. But he had strong wrists and a smooth, quick stroke, and he made hitting balls out of the park look effortless.

When he switched to a lighter bat before the 1955 season, his power quickly became apparent. He hit 44 homers that season, including three against the Pittsburgh Pirates on Aug. 4. His five grand slams that year established a major league record that stood for more than 30 years before Don Mattingly hit six in 1987.

Banks' best season came in 1958, when he hit .313 with 47 homers and 129 RBIs. Though the Cubs went 72-82 and finished sixth in the National League, Banks edged Willie Mays and Hank Aaron for his first MVP award. He was the first player from a losing team to win the NL MVP.

Banks won the MVP again in 1959, becoming the first NL player to win it in consecutive years, even though the Cubs had another dismal year. Banks batted .304 with 45 homers and a league-leading 143 RBIs.

He led the NL in homers again in 1960 with 41, his fourth straight season with 40 or more. His 248 homers from 1955-60 were the most in the majors, topping even Aaron and Mays.

"Mr Cub. What you have done for the game of baseball the city of Chicago and everyone you have ever touched will never be forgotten. RIP," tweeted Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo.

Though Banks didn't break the 40-homer barrier again after 1960, he topped the 100-RBI mark three more times, including 1969, his last full season. Then 38, he hit .253 with 23 home runs and 106 RBIs, and was chosen an All-Star for an 11th time.

On May 12, 1970, he hit his 500th home run at Wrigley Field, becoming only the eighth player at the time to reach the plateau.

Banks retired after the 1971 season. He owned most of the Cubs' career slugging records, some of which still stand today.

Known mostly for his power at the plate, Banks was a solid fielder, too. He is best known as a shortstop, where he won a Gold Glove in 1960, but he switched to first base in 1962. He played 1,259 games at first and 1,125 games at shortstop.

Born and raised in Dallas, Banks would be bribed to play catch by his father, who always wanted him to be a baseball player. Banks grew to love the game and was a standout in high school, along with participating in football, basketball and track and field.

He joined a barnstorming Negro Leagues team at 17 and was spotted by Cool Papa Bell, who signed him to the Monarchs in 1950. Banks played one season before going into the Army. He returned to Kansas City after he was discharged, playing one more season before joining the Cubs.

"He was one of the great crossover baseball players of his day," the Rev. Jesse Jackson said. "His personality was a racial bridge builder. He treated all people with dignity and respect. He never stopped reaching out to bridge the racial chasms."

NFL says no conclusion yet on Pats'...

NFL says no conclusion yet on Pats' deflated footballs

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The NFL said Friday it has interviewed dozens of people and collected physical evidence but has no conclusions yet on how the New England Patriots used underinflated balls in their last game, offering no timetable for resolving the cheating accusations with the Super Bowl nine days away.

The league said evidence shows the Patriots used underinflated footballs during the first half of the AFC championship game Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts.

It issued a statement that the Patriots have pledged full cooperation and have given the league information it requested and made personnel available upon request. Quarterback Tom Brady said Thursday afternoon he had not been contacted at that point.

The NFL said it began its investigation Sunday night and expects cooperation from other clubs. It hired an investigatory company to help review electronic and video information.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft said investigators were in Foxborough for three days this week after he received a letter from the league Monday informing him of the probe.

"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," he said. "I very much support the league's desire to conduct a complete investigation."

The Patriots are preparing to meet the defending champion Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl on Feb. 1 in Glendale, Arizona.

The league said its conclusions will be quickly shared when reached.

"Over the past several days, nearly 40 interviews have been conducted, including of Patriots personnel, game officials, and third parties with relevant information and expertise," the statement said.

NFL Executive Vice President Jeff Pash and Ted Wells of the law firm of Paul Weiss are leading the probe.

Wells was the investigator in the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal. His report last February detailed widespread harassment in the team's locker room that extended beyond the two players at the center of the probe. It said guard John Jerry and center Mike Pouncey followed Richie Incognito's lead in harassing offensive lineman Jonathan Martin.

The NFL requires game balls to be inflated to between 12 1/2 and 13 1/2 pounds per square inch.

It wants to find out why footballs were underinflated during the first half and whether "deliberate action" caused it.

"We have not made any judgments on these points and will not do so until we have concluded our investigation and considered all of the relevant evidence," the league said.

The balls were properly inflated for the second half and remained properly inflated after the game, the statement said.

Colts general manager Ryan Grigson declined to comment.

"Everything, I'm sure is going to come out in the investigation," he said when asked if the Colts alerted the NFL to the underinflated balls. "It's in the league's hands."

A former NFL ball boy said it's easy to remove air from a ball discreetly with a small pin that fits in the palm of a hand.

"This isn't a big deal. Everyone does it because each quarterback likes a different grip," Nader Kawash, a Philadelphia Eagles ball boy from 1996-2000, told The AP. "I'm not saying a ball boy or equipment guy did anything on purpose to cheat. Sometimes the balls are overinflated so it's easy to take some air out on the sideline without the referees noticing. You can use a helmet pin. Players can stand around in a circle. Anybody can do it."

Brady and coach Bill Belichick said Thursday they had no explanations for how the footballs were underinflated.

"I didn't alter the ball in any way," said Brady, who said he likes footballs pumped to exactly 12 1/2 pounds per square inch, the lower limit. "I have no knowledge of anything, any wrongdoing."

Belichick said that before this week, he didn't give air pressure in footballs much thought.

Softer balls are generally considered easier to throw and catch, and quarterbacks, specialists and equipment managers are known to have very individualized preferences in how footballs are readied for games.

Under league rules, each team provides balls for use on offense. Referees approve the balls more than 2 hours before game time, then keep the balls until they're turned over to ball handlers provided by home teams just before kickoff.

"The playing rules are intended to protect the fairness and integrity of our games," the NFL said. "We take seriously claims that those rules have been violated and will fully investigate this matter without compromise or delay."

Patriots players said they believed Brady and wouldn't let the investigation disrupt their preparations for the Super Bowl.

"Tom is a big boy," defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. "He knows how to handle all situations, so he'll handle this with class, like he always does."

Safety Devin McCourty said the team trusts Brady.

"We've learned this year that it can be a lot going on outside of this building, but if everything's right inside of this building we give ourselves a chance to win," McCourty said.

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AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to this report.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Yahoo

Coach K gets 1,000th win as No. 5 D...

Coach K gets 1,000th win as No. 5 Duke tops St. John's 77-68 (Yahoo Sports)

Duke head coach Mike Krzyzewski gestures to his players in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against St. John's at Madison Square Garden in New York, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. Coach Krzyzewski is going for his 1,000th win. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Mike Krzyzewski earned his 1,000th career win Sunday, making him the first NCAA Division I men's coach to reach the milestone, when No. 5 Duke surged past St. John's in the second half for a 77-68 victory at Madison Square Garden. Tyus Jones scored 22 points and the Blue Devils (17-2) went on an 18-2 run down the stretch to put Krzyzewski in four figures on his first try. Jahlil Okafor had 17 points and 10 rebounds, combining with Jones and Quinn Cook (17 points) to fuel the decisive spurt after Duke trailed by 10 with 8 1/2 minutes remaining. When the final horn sounded, Blue Devils players engulfed Krzyzewski in front of their bench, and he received a bear hug from assistant Jeff Capel.

Kyrgios to meet Murray in in Austra...

Kyrgios to meet Murray in in Australian Open quarterfinals (Yahoo Sports)

Nick Kyrgios of Australia celebrates after defeating Andreas Seppi of Italy in their fourth round match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Rob Griffith)

He upset Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, and followed up Sunday by beating the guy who ousted Roger Federer at the Australian Open. Next up for Nick Kyrgios is a quarterfinal against Andy Murray at Melbourne Park. The 19-year-old Kyrgios came back from two sets down and saved a match point to beat Andreas Seppi 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 8-6, becoming the first Australian man to reach the last eight in the national championship since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005, and the first male teenager since Federer in 2001 to reach two Grand Slam quarterfinals. Feels so good.'' Murray, a two-time Grand Slam champion and three-time Australian Open finalist, overcame racket-smashing Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-5 to secure a quarterfinals spot at his 16th consecutive major.

No. 2 Virginia barely outlasts Virg...

No. 2 Virginia barely outlasts Virginia Tech, 50-47 (Yahoo Sports)

Virginia Tech's head coach Buzz Williams jumps after his team scored a 3-point basket against Virginia during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, in Blacksburg, Va. (AP Photo/Don Petersen)

Justin Anderson scored eight of his 12 points during a late 12-0 run and No. 2 Virginia barely escaped a sold-out Cassell Coliseum with a 50-47 victory against Virginia Tech. The Cavaliers (19-0, 7-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) trailed 43-33 after the Hokies outscored them 30-9 in a long stretch spanning the halves. It included a span of 9:14 between the Cavaliers' first basket of the second half and its next points, the latter pulling them within 43-36 with 10:20 remaining. After Christian Beyer's inside basket for the Hokies (8-11, 0-6), Anderson made a 3-pointer from the left corner.

Family attorney: Cubs great Ernie B...

Family attorney: Cubs great Ernie Banks died of heart attack (Yahoo Sports)

FILE - Int his Aug. 13, 2013, file photl, former Chicago Cubs infielder Ernie Banks waves to the crowd before the Cubs' baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Chicago. Banks, the two-time MVP who never lost his boundless enthusiasm for baseball despite years of playing on losing Cubs teams, died Friday night, Jan. 23, 2015. He was 83. The Cubs announced Banks' death, but did not provide a cause. (AP Photo/Jim Prisching, File)

Chicago Cubs great Ernie Banks died after a heart attack, an attorney representing the Hall of Famer's family said Sunday. With Banks' widow standing nearby at a news conference at a downtown hotel, Mark Bogen said Banks had the heart attack Friday in Chicago and died later that day. ''I want you to know that he was very beloved and he is going to be dearly missed by family, friends and all his fans,'' Liz Banks said. The Cubs and Mayor Rahm Emanuel's office announced that the statue of Banks that has stood outside Wrigley Field since 2008 will be placed in Chicago's Daley Plaza this week, remaining there from Wednesday morning through Saturday.

Belichick on deflated balls: 'We tr...

Belichick on deflated balls: 'We try to do everything right' (Yahoo Sports)

New England Patriots football head coach Bill Belichick speaks during an NFL football news conference at Gillette Stadium, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Foxborough, Mass., where he defended the way his team preps its game balls. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

Saying his team ''followed every rule to the letter,'' New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick described in detail how his team prepares its footballs on game day and defended his players from chatter that they made it to the Super Bowl by cheating. ''At no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to gain an advantage,'' Belichick said in an unscheduled availability on Saturday afternoon, eight days before the Patriots will play the Seattle Seahawks for the NFL championship. Anything that's close, we stay as far away from the line as we can.'' Speaking once again with authority on a topic he previously professed ignorance of, Belichick said the team conducted an internal study on the process of getting game balls ready. I'm not an expert in football measurements,'' Belichick said.

All-Pros-All-Pros Preview (Yahoo Sp...

All-Pros-All-Pros Preview (Yahoo Sports)

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten (82) reaches for a pass as he is defended by Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (52) during practice for the NFL Football Pro Bowl Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz. The game is scheduled to be played Sunday in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

After three days of light, make that very light, workouts, Team Irvin and Team Carter are ready for Sunday night's Pro Bowl. Tony Romo will start at quarterback for Team Irvin, Andrew Luck for Team Carter in the second year of a format concocted to bring some life to an event that had become a show of halfhearted effort, little defense and practically no blocking. Not that it was anything close to a regular NFL game, and not even in the same stratosphere as what will be happening on the same field a week later when Seattle and New England meet in the Super Bowl. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford joked that he could make a deal with Lions safety Glover Quin that Quinn would allow Stafford to throw a touchdown, and Stafford would throw Quinn an interception.

Fox Sports

Rosenthal: Tanaka to Yankees restor...

Rosenthal: Tanaka to Yankees restores natural order in baseball

Japanese ace Tanaka agrees to 7-yea...

Japanese ace Tanaka agrees to 7-year, $155 million deal with Yankees

The New York Yankees and prized Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka agreed Wednesday to a $155 million, seven-year contract.
Aussie Open: Federer ousts Murray, ...

Aussie Open: Federer ousts Murray, will face Nadal in semis

Roger Federer regained his dominance over Andy Murray in Grand Slam matches and advanced to his 11th consecutive Australian Open semifinal with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 win Wednesday.
Red-hot Durant scores 46, leads Thu...

Red-hot Durant scores 46, leads Thunder past Trail Blazers

Kevin Durant scored 11 of his 46 points in the final 3:23 to help the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the Portland Trail Blazers 105-97 on Tuesday night.
Browns to interview Bills' Pettine ...

Browns to interview Bills' Pettine with Broncos' Gase out of running

Adam Gase has told the Browns not to wait for him.
Players reportedly wanted A-Rod kic...

Players reportedly wanted A-Rod kicked out of MLBPA after lawsuit

Several angry major league players wanted Alex Rodriguez kicked out of their union after he sued it last week, but staff lawyers told them expulsion was not allowed.

Reuters

What scandals? It never rains on Su...

What scandals? It never rains on Super Bowl party

PHOENIX (Reuters) - From domestic violence to deflated footballs, scandal and controversy have hung over the National Football League this season but no matter how dark the clouds it never rains on the Super Bowl parade.
Hakuho leads march of new Mongolian...

Hakuho leads march of new Mongolian warriors

TOKYO (Reuters) - Hakuho returned to his corner for a third time to grab another fistful of salt, his face a picture of concentration, his eyes narrowed and focused as a packed Ryougoku Sumo Hall bristled with anticipation.
Masterful Murray pays back dangerou...

Masterful Murray pays back dangerous Dimitrov

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Andy Murray avenged his shock loss at last year's Wimbledon and battled his way into his 16th successive grand slam quarter-final with a 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3 7-5 victory over Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov at the Australian Open on Sunday.
Sweet revenge for Murray as old gua...

Sweet revenge for Murray as old guard hold firm

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Dressed in black and oozing menace, Andy Murray extracted sweet revenge by felling Wimbledon nemesis Grigor Dimitrov in a late-night thriller as the old guard stood firm to march into the Australian Open quarter-finals on Sunday.
Irrepressible Vonn adds 64th jewel ...

Irrepressible Vonn adds 64th jewel to crown

ST MORITZ, Switzerland (Reuters) - Lindsey Vonn added a 64th jewel to her World Cup crown when she won a Super-G in St Moritz on Sunday, her last race before the world championships at home in Beaver Creek next week.
Berdych crimps Australia's day at M...

Berdych crimps Australia's day at Melbourne Park

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Tomas Berdych ruined local hopes of a massive Australia Day celebration on Monday when he hammered Bernard Tomic to advance to his fifth successive quarter-final at the season-opening grand slam on Sunday.

SI.com

A few words with World Cup broadcas...

A few words with World Cup broadcaster Darke

The poet laureate of soccer in the United States is not an American. ESPN's Ian Darke was born on the south coast of England in the naval port town of Portsmouth and since he landed on American shores fulltime for the 2010 World Cup, his soccer calls have thrilled the American public with the most famous being his description of Landon Donovan's injury-time game-winner against Algeria during that tournament.
Colombia's Radamel Falcao out for W...

Colombia's Radamel Falcao out for World Cup, ACL recovery comes up short

Star Colombian striker Radamel Falcao will miss the World Cup after his ACL recovery falls short.
Colombia's Radamel Falcao out for W...

Colombia's Radamel Falcao out for World Cup

Seattle rises to No. 1

Seattle rises to No. 1

End of an era: Frank Lampard leaves...

End of an era: Frank Lampard leaves Chelsea

USA's first foe Ghana finalizes Wor...

USA's first foe Ghana finalizes World Cup roster

Sky Sports

Cuadrado wants Chelsea move

Cuadrado wants Chelsea move

Fiorentina winger Juan Cuadrado has made it clear he wants to join Chelsea, Sky sources understand.
Ligue 1: Zlatan hands PSG win

Ligue 1: Zlatan hands PSG win

PSG kept the pace up with leaders leaders Lyon after Zlatan Ibrahimovic's penalty gave them a 1-0 win at Saint Etienne.
Sam unsure over Fletcher deal

Sam unsure over Fletcher deal

Manager Sam Allardyce admits he is unsure whether Darren Fletcher will choose to join West Ham or another club.
Cavendish wins in Argentina

Cavendish wins in Argentina

Mark Cavendish sprinted to his first win of 2015 on the seventh and final stage of the Tour de San Luis in Argentina.
Drogba wants redemption

Drogba wants redemption

Chelsea forward Didier Drogba says the London side can put FA Cup embarrassment behind them if they set up a Wembley trip this week.
Farrell a doubt for Wales

Farrell a doubt for Wales

Owen Farrell is a major doubt for England’s opening Six Nations game with Wales after sustaining a knee injury in Saracens' Champions Cup loss to Clermont on Sunday.

abc News

Pete Carroll: The New England years

Pete Carroll: The New England years

Pete Carroll ushered in a radical new era when he arrived as head coach of the New England Patriots??on Feb. 3, 1997. Under predecessor Bill Parcells, players had to be five minutes early to a meeting, otherwise they were locked out and wouldn't dare interrupt. Abrupt. Demanding. Intolerant. Intimidating. Old-school North Jersey. That was Parcells, and for four years the Patriots and their fans ate it up. Until early 1997, when Parcells -- famously frustrated by not being allowed to "shop for the groceries" in compiling a roster -- finalized a divorce with the Patriots after taking them to the Super Bowl. He wanted control of the roster. Patriots owner Robert Kraft wasn't willing to give it to him. So in a deal brokered by then-NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, the New York Jets sent the Patriots four draft picks in exchange for Kraft releasing Parcells from his contract. Parcells became the Jets' head coach, and Kraft hired Pete...
The best of enemies

The best of enemies

A few days ago, Maria Sharapova was safely locked in the jaws of defeat. But she pried them open and jumped out, and it now appears that it will be very hard to stop her at the Australian Open. Someday, a bearded, wise man will wander in from some windblown desert and explain why a player who has survived a near-death experience in a tournament draw -- theoretically, a humbling experience, bad for one's sense of self-worth and all that -- so often goes on a winning rampage. Since she escaped two match points in her seesaw battle with No. 150-ranked Alexandra Panova in the second round, Sharapova has been bombarding opponents with tooth-jarring, inside-out forehands and drive volleys. She's lost a grand total of five games in her past two matches, the latest a 6-3, 6-0 pasting of No. 21 seed Peng Shuai. Sharapova's quarterfinal opponent will be No. 7 seed Eugenie Bouchard, who nearly wasted a seemingly overwhelming lead...
Stan Van Gundy: 'Major, major loss'

Stan Van Gundy: 'Major, major loss'

MILWAUKEE -- Detroit Pistons guard Brandon Jennings had to be helped to the locker room with an apparent lower left leg injury late in the third quarter of Saturday night's 101-86 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks. "It doesn't look good," coach Stan Van Gundy said. "It is a major, major loss." The Pistons did not announce anything regarding Jennings' injury on Sunday, but the guard took to Twitter and seemed to allude to the amount of time he will be sidelined for. Jennings fell to the floor after planting on his left leg while guarding an inbounds pass. He immediately clutched the leg above his sneakers while writhing on the floor in pain. Play was stopped after the Bucks scored on the other end of the court with 1:03 left in the quarter. Jennings left with 16 points against the team that drafted him in the first round in 2009. The Pistons said Jennings would undergo further evaluation after the guard needed help...
ESPNTopNews

ESPNTopNews

Coach K Gets 1,000th Win as No. 5 D...

Coach K Gets 1,000th Win as No. 5 Duke Tops St. John's 77-68

Coach 1K: Mike Krzyzewski gets 1,000th career win as No. 5 Duke rallies past St. John's 77-68
Kyrgios to Meet Murray in in Austra...

Kyrgios to Meet Murray in in Australian Open Quarterfinals

Kyrgios to meet Murray, Sharapova vs Bouchard in Australian Open quarterfinals

CBS Sports

Duke tops St. John's for Coach K's ...

Duke tops St. John's for Coach K's 1,000th W

Duke tops St. John's for Coach K's 1,000th W
Report: Gordon facing yearlong ban ...

Report: Gordon facing yearlong ban from NFL

Report: Gordon facing yearlong ban from NFL
Mariota might not throw at NFL Draf...

Mariota might not throw at NFL Draft Combine

Mariota might not throw at NFL Draft Combine
Packers CB Shields: Dez caught ball...

Packers CB Shields: Dez caught ball in playoffs

Packers CB Shields: Dez caught ball in playoffs
'Science Guy' says Bill Belichick's...

'Science Guy' says Bill Belichick's full of hot air

'Science Guy' says Bill Belichick's full of hot air
No. 2 Virginia barely outlasts Virg...

No. 2 Virginia barely outlasts Virginia Tech, 50-47

BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) Justin Anderson scored eight of his 12 points during a late 12-0 run and No. 2 Virginia barely escaped a sold-out Cassell Coliseum with a 50-47 victory against Virginia Tech.
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