NFL referees allegedly never noticed the deflated footballs used by the New England Patriots, raising concerns that “Deflategate” involved more than just the team, especially considering the millions in bets surrounding the AFC championship game.

The NFL determined that 11 of the 12 game balls used by the Patriots during their Jan. 18 game against the Colts were underinflated, making it easier to throw and carry, but how did the referees, who handle footballs all the time, supposedly never notice?

“The Colts reportedly grew suspicious after linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted Tom Brady late in the second quarter,” Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reported. “A softer football is easier to throw and catch, especially in rainy conditions, as was the case Sunday night.”

If the balls were underinflated enough for the Colts to notice, you’d think the refs would have also noticed the balls felt different since their official inspection.

Did the Deflategate conspiracy involve others outside the Patriots organization, such as the referees? Millions of dollars in gambling profits are decided by the outcome of every game.

The NFL attracts more gamblers than any other sport and wagers on the Super Bowl alone have approached $100 million in years past, and who has extreme influence over the outcome of the game? NFL referees.

So it’s not unreasonable to suggest some refs are paid off.

For one thing, NFL rules are so messy nowadays that referees can make bad calls with plausible deniability.

“It’s all about money; that’s what the leagues put the games on for,” gambling expert Brian Tuohy said. “They put them on just for their own profit and for the television networks and statistically it’s shown the networks are surviving because of the NFL and of course the advertisers are profiting off of these leagues as well.”

“There’s a lot of entities involved in this and I cannot believe a business like the NFL would leave itself up for pure chance.”

He also pointed out it’s not illegal for a league to fix its own games.

“There’s no law that prevents this,” he said. “Your ticket promises you entry to see a game… it doesn’t mean certain rules have to be followed, it doesn’t mean certain players have to play, it doesn’t mean a team cannot cheat.”

The Patriots could have beaten the Colts without deflated footballs, but they may not have covered the gambling spread.

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