For the past two days, the reigning controversy in the NFL has revolved around the New England Patriots and whether or not they used deflated footballs during their 45-7 victory over the Colts in the AFC Championship. Well, turns out they did. At least according to ESPN's Chris Mortensen who said through Twitter:

The league also declined to comment further, and the Patriots agreed to continue aiding their investigation.

Yesterday, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said that the Patriots would fully cooperate with any NFL inquiry, stating:

"I really don't know what to say or know anything about what we're talking about here. Whatever it is, we'll cooperate with them the best we can."

He also seemed to mirror commissioner Roger Goodell's competence by saying that it was the first he'd heard about it. Of course, with Belichick we know he is competent, which makes it all the more suspicious. Additionally, quarterback Tom Brady called the allegations "ridiculous" and said "[he] doesn't even respond to stuff like this."

All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski tweeted a meme last night to mock the controversy:

The Colts first became suspicious after a goal-line interception in the second quarter by Indianapolis linebacker D'Qwell Jackson.

In case you're wondering why anyone would deflate a ball (and why the league mandated weight is between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds) it is supposedly easier to grip and catch (as you can test in your backyard, or a park, or whatever). Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young (who allegedly knows a thing or two about throwing a football) said of the rainy weather in Foxboro on Sunday:

Now whether or not that advantage is worth 38 points (i.e. the margin of the game) is up to you.

So how does the NFL usually check for this?

The normal procedure leading up to each game dictates that league balls be inspected roughly two hours and 15 minutes before a contest, with officials marking each of a dozen balls per team to confirm that they meet league requirements. According to former ref Jim Daopoulos, if a ball doesn't "feel right it is thrown out."

After the balls are inspected, no one is allowed to tamper with them in any way, with potential disciplinary action including (but not limited to) a fine of at least $25,000 for the person responsible for letting the air out.

With that being said, we hope (for their sake) that the task wasn't delegated to some unpaid intern. 

[via Twitter/ESPN]

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