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Patriots told Wells that Colts and other teams tampered with footballs

As Ted Wells investigated Deflategate, the Patriots asked him to investigate whether other teams -- including the Colts, whose complaint to the league got the whole thing started -- had previously tampered with footballs.

The Patriots’ rebuttal to Wells’s report includes a letter describing the information the Patriots turned over to Wells and his staff. That letter references the Patriots’ contention that other teams may have tampered with footballs in violation of league rules.

“The Patriots also supplied information to Mr. Wells about a prior reported incident of actual ball tampering which took place during a Vikings-Panthers game in 2014. Evidence was also provided that Indianapolis ball boys, in a prior season, had been seen by Jacksonville personnel with ball needles hidden under their long sleeves,” the Patriots’ letter says.

The NFL has already acknowledged that both teams broke the rules on football preparation during the Vikings-Panthers game. In that case, the league let both teams off with a simple warning not to do it again. The Patriots are, understandably, upset that they were given such a harsh punishment while the Vikings and Panthers got away with no punishment at all.

But the accusation that Colts ball boys may have let air out of footballs is new. The Patriots’ statement doesn’t say when that happened or whether the league took any action about it. But it sure would be something if it turned out that the Colts were guilty of deflating footballs, too. That’s what the Patriots are suggesting.