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Brad Johnson: I did tip the ball boys, but I did nothing wrong

Super Bowl XXXVII - Oakland Raiders vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 26: Brad Johnson #14 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers throws a pass during Super Bowl XXXVII against the Oakland Raiders on January 26, 2003 at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)

Sporting News via Getty Images

Former NFL quarterback Brad Johnson admits he paid ball boys who broke in the footballs before the Super Bowl in 2003, but he says that story is getting blown out of proportion.

Johnson said on PFT Live that he resents the stories that came out this morning suggesting that he bribed ball boys to tamper with footballs before the Super Bowl. Johnson told Mike Florio that he and the other quarterback in that Super Bowl, Oakland’s Rich Gannon, talked about it beforehand and both agreed that they didn’t want to play with the slick, brand-new balls that the NFL was using for the Super Bowl. Johnson said he didn’t personally tamper with the footballs, but he did pay the people who had the balls to break them in and make them easier to handle.

“Both Rich Gannon and I, we had played together in Minnesota, we both agreed,” Johnson said. “I never saw the footballs, Rich Gannon never saw the footballs. And we played, no one complained.”

Johnson said Gannon knows that the Raiders weren’t cheated in that Super Bowl.

“I talked to Rich Gannon this morning and he said, ‘This is way blown out of proportion,’” Johnson said.

Johnson admitted that he gave the ball boys a “tip” but he said he doesn’t remember if it was $7,500 and doesn’t remember who the ball boys were.

As for the accusation that the Patriots deflated footballs in violation of NFL rules before Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, Johnson said that’s not the same thing that he did before the Super Bowl.

“That doesn’t have anything to do with me,” Johnson said. “I don’t know anything about what they’re talking about, deflation of balls.”

What Johnson knows is that he did ask for the footballs in that Super Bowl to be prepared a certain way. Even if he doesn’t think there was anything untoward about that.