NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday the NFL has not made a determination of whether the New England Patriots intentionally deflated footballs in the AFC championship game against Indianapolis, and declined to “engage in speculation” that might compromise the ongoing investigation.
“We take seriously anything that potentially impacts the integrity of the game,” said Goodell, who did not have an answer as to whether, prior to the game in question, the league had ever tested the air pressure in footballs during a game.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft did not attend the news conference, although he typically does. At the start of the week, he requested an apology from the league if it could not definitively prove the Patriots tampered with the footballs in the AFC title game.
Asked about that apology request, Goodell said: “This is my job. This is my responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. I represent 32 teams. All of us want to make sure the rules are being followed, and if we had any information where the potential is that those rules were violated, I have to pursue that, and I have to pursue that aggressively.”
The so-called "Deflategate" controversy comes at the end of the most turbulent season in NFL history, largely because of the league’s handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence situation. Goodell admitted that he and others in the NFL did not fully understand the issues of domestic violence when Rice’s original two-game suspension was levied.
“It has been a tough year on me personally,” Goodell said. “It has been a year of humility and learning. We have all done a lot of soul searching [this year], starting with yours truly. We didn’t fully understand those issues. We have experts now, they’re in our office, they’re helping us understand these issues.”
Asked if he has envisioned what might lead to his resignation or firing, he said: “No, I can’t. Does that surprise you?”