TAMPA, Fla. -- As the fallout continued from the New England Patriots allegedly deflating footballs in the AFC Championship Game, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson admitted he played a role in altering footballs before Super Bowl XXXVII.
“There was no wrongdoing on my part," Johnson told The Tampa Tribune on Wednesday. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I thought I was doing what was right for everybody involved in the game.”
Johnson admitted he paid two ball boys $7,500 to scuff up the balls to make them easier to throw. The opposing quarterback in that game, Rich Gannon with the Oakland Raiders, said he and Johnson discussed the balls while filming a television commercial before the game. Gannon said the condition of the footballs did not impact the game, which was won by the Bucs.
“And Brad’s a lot like me, a lot like just about every other quarterback in the league," Gannon said Wednesday on SiriusXM NFL Radio, "nobody wants to play with a ball that’s fresh out of the box and has been rubbed down a couple of times with a brush. And, quite frankly, shame on Brad for having to reach into his pocket to pay $7,500, because I wouldn’t have paid $7,500. Five hundred maybe, or a thousand maybe, but $7,500 to doctor the balls?
“And again, ‘doctored the balls’ makes it sound like you’re cheating, but all you’re trying to do is make sure they’re not slick. I think it’s a non-story, quite frankly. And it’s not the reason we lost."