PHOENIX -- The NFL is conducting a "serious" and "thorough" investigation into the deflation of footballs in the AFC Championship Game, commissioner Roger Goodell said Friday, but there have been "no judgments made" against the New England Patriots or any of their employees.
The league previously announced that 11 of the Patriots' 12 game footballs were found at halftime to be below the league's mandate of 12.5 psi. Ted Wells, the NFL's outside investigator, is attempting to determine why the balls were used in the first half and if it was "the result of deliberate action," Goodell said.
"We don't know enough in this case to know who is responsible or if there was an infraction," he added.
Whether the Patriots gained a competitive advantage is "secondary," Goodell said, to whether a rule was broken.
Speaking at his annual state of the league news conference prior to Super Bowl XLIX, Goodell faced a series of questions about his job performance and the league's controversial year. He said he has not considered resigning, even as the league has faced intense scrutiny for its handling of the Ray Rice domestic abuse case among other issues, and does not think he will be fired.
"It has been a tough year," Goodell said. "It's been a tough year on me personally. It's been a year of what I would say is humility and learning. We obviously as an organization have gone through adversity, but more importantly, adversity for me. It's an opportunity for us to get better. ... We've all done a lot of soul searching starting with yours truly."
Goodell, however, clearly plans no reconsideration of his admittedly close relationship with Patriots owner Robert Kraft. He attended a party at Kraft's house the night before the AFC Championship Game, and Kraft said earlier this week that he expected an apology if no wrongdoing by the Patriots was found.
In response, Goodell said: "This is my job. This is my responsibility to protect the integrity of the game. I represent 32 teams. All of us want to make sure the rules are being followed."
On his close relationship with Kraft, Goodell said: "I was at the Krafts' residence along with season-ticket holders, sponsors and media partners, the night before the AFC Championship. That's part of what we do. I was there to participate in the program with our partner, CBS. It's something I do on a regular basis. It's not unusual. It's also not unusual that I work closely with owners.
"Professionally I have a relationship, and I also admire, respect and think very highly of him on a personal level. There's no hiding from that point.
"Since he knows me so well and knows that I'm not going to do anything to compromise the integrity of the league, I think he has no doubt that I will do the right thing."
Neither Kraft nor Seahawks owner Paul Allen attended Goodell's news conference Friday. Kraft decided to stay back with the Patriots, who had a team meeting scheduled at that time Friday, according to ESPN's Mike Reiss. Kraft also went to practice after the team meeting.
Other Goodell news conference topics from Friday:
• Former White House press secretary Joe Lockhart told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio that he has been "working with the NFL for the past three to four months on public relations issues after the Ray Rice case surfaced." Lockhart was in Arizona and at Goodell's news conference to assess the commissioner's answers to questions and performance.
• The NFL plans to hire a chief medical officer to oversee all the league's health policies, Goodell said, in the near future. The executive will work with the league's medical committees, advisers and the NFL Players Association, Goodell announced at his news conference.
• The league will consider proposals to expand instant replay and rotate officiating crews to provide more consistency, Goodell said.
• Goodell said he spoke recently with New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, whose family is suing for control of the franchise. Goodell said he trusts Benson's mental acuity and believes he is in complete control of the organization.
• The league will again look into possibilities for making the extra point more entertaining. It experimented with moving the kick back to the 15-yard line in the preseason, and in the Pro Bowl it narrowed the goal posts.
• All three NFL games in London next season will start in the afternoon there, allowing the league to broadcast tripleheaders in the United States on those Sundays.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.