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Ex-NFL official says he was suspicious of Patriots’ McNally

An Indianapolis-based former NFL head linesman said he reported his suspicions about Patriots locker room attendant Jim McNally to league officials "six or eight years ago," according to WTHR columnist Bob Kravitz.

However, the accuracy of that report, by the same reporter who broke the original Deflategate story, is already being questioned.

Mark Baltz was an NFL official from 1989 to 2013.

"He always asked for the footballs way, way before he was supposed to get them,'' Baltz told Kravitz. "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 (in Foxborough) and those first few times, he'd always ask. I always thought it was very suspicious. He certainly acted in a suspicious manner.''

According to Pro-Football-Reference, Baltz has been assigned to officiate in six Patriots home games since 1999. Quarterback Tom Brady was not drafted until 2000, and missed the game on Dec. 21, 2008 with a knee injury. According to reports, McNally has been the locker room attendant since 2008, meaning Baltz would have interacted with McNally four times.

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Also, Baltz's claim of reporting his suspicions six to eight years ago would mean his initial observations were within the 2007 to 2009 time frame.

The report comes just one day after the NFL allowed the Patriots to reinstate McNally and assistant equipment manager John Jastremski since they were suspended May 6.

Baltz did not say he saw McNally tamper with footballs.

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"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 said. "All I know is, when he got them [the footballs], he would run. He would take off. Whether he was going somewhere and letting air out, I'm definitely suspicious, but I don't know for sure."


Andrew Mahoney can be reached at andrew.mahoney@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter@GlobeMahoney.