Deflategate reared its ugly head again Thursday, as ex-NFL linesman Mark Baltz said he was suspicious of Patriots locker-room attendant Jim McNally -- suspended by the league several months ago for allegedly participating in a ball-deflation "scheme" in January's American Football Conference championship game -- for some time, and actually reported his "odd" conduct to the National Football League "six or eight years ago."
But one of Baltz' former bosses, ex-NFL supervisor of officials Jim Daopoulos, defended McNally as "one of the really good guys who worked in the locker rooms in . . . the league" and added: "I really don't know what Mark's agenda is right here."
In interviews with Jessica Moran on Comcast SportsNet's SportsNet Central, and later with Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek on Arbella Early Edition, Daopoulos said he was "kind of confused why Mark is doing this."
"I think we're trying to bring up a lot of little situations . . . trying to stoke a coal here and get a fire going," he said later. "But I don't think there's anything that's going to come of this."
Baltz, who lives in Indianapolis, made his comments to Bob Kravitz, the Indianapolis reporter who broke the Deflategate story last January hours after the Patriots beat the Colts, 45-7, for the AFC title. Baltz was a league official for 25 years, and was fired by the NFL after the 2013 season.
Daopoulos -- a native of Marlborough, Mass. -- said he never received any complaints in the league office about McNally, whose work he strongly defended.
"In all my years working with locker-room attendants, Jim McNally, without a doubt, is probably one of the most professional of all the locker-room attendants in the National Football League," he said. "And that can be attested by all the officials working in the National Football League."
As to Baltz' complaints about McNally, Daopoulos explained:
"After the footballs are checked, they sit in the locker room and then it was the responsibility of the head linesman and the referee to bring the footballs out. Some officials let the locker-room attendant carry them out. As I said, it was never an issue. It's never been an issue in the past. So Jim just kind of did what he was supposed to do.
"There [were] questions (raised by Baltz) about [McNally] playing catch on the sideline with Tom Brady. Was that against the rules? No. There [were] no specific guidelines about what a locker-room attendant could or could not do. [McNally] had a sideline pass. He could go anywhere on the field."
McNally has been reinstated by the league, though he won't be allowed to return to his old job. Daopoulos feels he should resume his former duties.
"He was professional," said Daopoulos. "He took care of the officials' needs. He made sure the locker room was prepared for them before the games. He was there with anything, in case they needed anything. He was as good a locker-room attendant as there was in the league. It's not a very difficult job; you're there and you're basically a valet for the officials to help out [with] whatever you can.
"Some teams, you know, the locker-room attendant is there, sometimes he's not there. Jim was there all the time. Maybe he ran around a lot" -- another complaint raised by Baltz -- "because he had a lot of responsibility. It was a big locker room in New England. But he did a lot of things and he had a lot of little gifts for the officials, where he would have, you know, great food and have little razors, he'd have deodorant. He really took care of them. He'd have their names printed over all their lockers. He was really one of the good guys.
"And if you talk to some of the veteran officials in the National Football League, they will tell you the same thing."