A three-month investigation by the National Football League has concluded that it is "more probable than not" that the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots broke the rules when it used under-inflated footballs during a January playoff game.
The report said Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady was probably aware of what was going on. Brady has denied breaking any rules.
Using an under-inflated football, especially during cold weather, may make it easier for the quarterback to throw the ball and the receiver to catch it.
The Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts in the American conference playoff game 45-7, and went on to defeat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.
The NFL probe said that more probably than not Patriots staff members Jim McNally and John Jastremski were part of a deliberate plot to break NFL rules by releasing air from the balls before handing them over to game officials.
The NFL investigation clears Patriots coach Bill Belichik of any wrongdoing and did not recommend any penalties at this time.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he is disappointed by the report. He said it does not include any hard evidence that anyone deliberately deflated the balls.