Sep 17, 2015 7:28 PM by John Breech | CBSSports.com
When Patriots locker-room attendant Jim McNally was investigated for the part he played in Deflategate earlier this year, it wasn't the first time that someone suspected McNally of altering footballs before a game.
Former NFL official Mark Baltz, who served as a head linesman from 1989 to 2013, told WTHR.com this week that he's always been suspicious of McNally, the man who referred to himself as "The Deflator" in a text that showed up in the Wells Report.
"He always asked for the footballs way, way before he was supposed to get them," Baltz said. "If he could get them 10 or 15 minutes before he was supposed to get them, instead of the usual two minutes before the game -- and there were some crews that let him do that -- he would do it. I wouldn't let him take them early, and I think he eventually figured that out because he stopped asking after a while. I probably did 10 to 15 games up there and those first few times, he'd always ask. I always thought it was very suspicious. He certainly acted in a suspicious manner."
Baltz grew so weary of McNally that he eventually reported him to the league office.
"(McNally) was always worried about the footballs. Always," Baltz said. "It was very odd. I reported him to the league, but never got any reaction from them. I don't think they thought it was a big deal at the time. But (McNally) did things that 31 other locker room attendants don't do."
Baltz didn't recall exactly when he reported McNally, but said it happened at least "six to eight years" ago.
Eventually, McNally caught on to the fact that Baltz wasn't ever going to give him the footballs early.
"I think McNally did his homework and knew which crews he was dealing with and which crews he could get over on," Baltz said. "'Are the footballs ready yet? Are the footballs ready.' I'd tell him, 'Yeah, they're ready, but when we got out on the field, you can have them.' Obviously, there were a lot of times when he's gotten them early and had the time to let some air out of the ball, or whatever he was doing with them."
Baltz never saw McNally deflate any footballs, but he was definitely suspicious of the Patriots former locker-room attendant
"All I know is, when he got (the footballs), he would run. He would take off," Baltz said. "Whether he was going somewhere and letting air out, I'm definitely suspicious, but I don't know for sure."
After serving a four-month suspension for Deflategate, McNally was reinstated on Wednesday. Although McNally is expected to return to the Patriots, he won't be allowed serve as locker room attendant or handle equipment.
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