Bill Belichick has taken a defiant stance on claims the New England Patriots deflated balls during the AFC Championship Game.
New England Patritots head coach Bill Belichick has denied any knowledge of his staff allegedly deflating game balls during their AFC Championship game win over the Indianapolis Colts.
The Patriots set up a Super Bowl meeting with defending champions Seattle Seahawks by hammering the Colts 45-7 last Sunday.
However, the build-up to the NFL's season-ending showpiece has been marred by the claims of ball tampering on the part of New England, which are being investigated by the league.
Deflating a ball in cold and wet weather conditions like those at Gillette Stadium can aid a quarterback's grip. But the NFL's game operations manual states that no individual is permitted to alter the balls once they have left the locker room.
Quarterback Tom Brady has already branded the accusations, known now as 'deflate-gate', as "ridiculous". And now Belichick has weighed in to profess his innocence in the matter.
"When I came in Monday morning, I was shocked to learn of the news of the footballs," Belichick told a press conference on Friday.
"I was totally unaware of any of this until Monday morning. I had no knowledge of the various steps that go into preparing the footballs for a game, so I've learned a lot about that."
Each team is allowed to prepare the balls as they see fit, and Belichick claimed that the officials approved the balls the Patriots provided, which are said to have been about two pounds per square inch (PSI) below the league-mandated range.
But Belichick stated that New England will take steps to avoid such controversy in the future.
"I'm trying to coach the team and that's what I want to do. I think we know that quarterbacks and kickers have preferences on footballs," he added.
"They know a lot more about it than I do, they're a lot more sensitive to it than I am. I hear them comment on it from time to time. But they can tell you that there is never any sympathy from me.
"My entire coaching career, I have never talked to any player or staff member about football air pressure.