In his annual State of the League address, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell emphasized that the investigation into Deflategate is moving forward until the truth is found by investigator Ted Wells.
"We take it very seriously about anything that affects the integrity of the game," the embattled Commissioner said.
The Patriots, who play in the Super Bowl on Sunday, are believed to be in the know about 11 footballs that were less than the required 12.5 lbs of PSI. Those 11 balls were detected by the Colts and the officials in the first half, and New England was told to inflate them at the half. However, in recent days Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino tried to put cold water on the situation, saying that the officials didn't log the weight of the balls before, during or after the AFC Championship. It has not been explained why 13 other Patriots footballs were at full inflated capacity, and why the Colts footballs were perfect.
It's been a wild week where the integrity of the sport has been questioned. The Patriots have been trying to stonewall the issue, with Belichick and Brady both acting like they didn't know anything, to Belichick acting like an astrophysicist last Saturday. The controversy hit it's tipping point when Patriots owner Robert Kraft ripped the NFL, saying the league should apologize for the investigation.
When asked about Kraft's remarks, Goodell had some strong words for the Patriots sly owner. "This is my job to protect the integrity of the game. I represent 32 teams. If we have information that is in violation, I have to pursue that, and we will pursue that vigorously," Goodell said.
Later in the press conference Goodell was pressed if he would hold Bill Belichick and the Patriots to the same standards he held Sean Payton and the Saints for Bountygate in 2012. However he tried to avoid the question citing that he had two years worth of information on the Saints, which was enough evidence for him to suspend Payton.
"These are individual cases. We don't know enough in this case to make a judgement. When we get more information from the Wells investigation, we will make the right decision for the integrity of the league," added Goodell, who emphasized that it is important for teams to follow the rules.
"We are a league of rules. Every fan expects us to follow those rules.
If there are rules about how the game is supposed to be played, we will
enforce those rules. Whether a competitive advantage was gained is
secondary in my mind."
When pressed about favoritism to Kraft, an allegation that Seahawks corner Richard Sherman made earlier in the week, Goodell said: "I was at the Kraft's residence with season ticket holders as part of an AFC Championship party. It's what we do. We were with our partners at CBS, taking questions. it's not unusual that I work closely with ownership. Robert Kraft works on several board committees. I think very highly of him on a personal level."
When pressured if he was embarrassed by the controversies that have hurt the NFL this year, Goodell only said it was a year of "humility and learning."