The Patriots will not be permitted to use their own ball boys on the sidelines for Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1.
But it's not because of the continuing investigation into the why the Patriots used underinflated footballs in the first half of their 45-7 victory over the Colts in the AFC Championship Game last Sunday.
It's standard sideline protocol that the game attendants who handle the footballs in the Super Bowl are not from either team playing. They were hired well before anyone knew it would be the Patriots facing the Seahawks next Sunday. Thus, there is no chance that any representative from either the Patriots or Seahawks will have access to the footballs once they are approved by the in-game officials a little more than two hours before kickoff.
In all regular-season and playoff games leading up to the Super Bowl, teams use their own ball attendants. Patriots coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have denied any knowledge of why the footballs used in the first half last Sunday were underinflated.
"At this Super Bowl, the equipment manager of a team not competing in the game is in charge of the game balls and arranging for the ball attendant crews, which are hired before the Super Bowl teams are determined, a long-standing practice," NFL spokesman Michael Signora said. "The balls go through the standard testing and verification process with the game officials during the pregame time period, as happens for every game."
Bears equipment manager Tony Medlin will handle next week's game.
The NFL is continuing its investigation into whether the Patriots purposely used deflated footballs in the first half against the Colts.
The league said in a statement Friday that "the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs that were underinflated were used by the Patriots in the first half."
There is no timetable for when the investigation will conclude.
"The Super Bowl teams receive balls to work with during practice as per our policies," Signora said. "The balls are then returned to the league after practice on Friday, where they will remain in league possession until they are used in the Super Bowl."
•The Ravens will cut ties after the Super Bowl with defensive tackle Terrence Cody, who's under investigation for animal cruelty.The 26-year-old Cody is the subject of an ongoing probe launched by the Baltimore County State's Attorney's office. No charges have been filed. According to Cody's agent, Peter Schaffer, Cody took his dog to a veterinarian for treatment and the pet subsequently died.
•The Jets hired Kacy Rodgers as defensive coordinator and Bobby April Jr. as special teams coordinator. Chan Gailey was hired as the offensive coordinator earlier in the week.