Folks, this is absolutely incredible.
Edit: The Referees Association wants to clarify that it wasn't a ref who was fired, but a league official.
ESPN's Adam Schefter is reporting that the NFL has fired an official from the AFC Championship Game for stealing one of the footballs and attempting to sell it. A second ref noticed this during the game.
Schefter also reports that Jim McNally, the attendant supposedly tagged for "trying to introduce an unapproved football", was provided the footballs by two league employees. One of these employees was fired.
Are you following this?
An official stole a game ball and the Patriots locker room attendant received a replacement football, that was incorrectly approved. This is likely the root of the nonsensical report from last night, and would explain why the attendant was trying to give the ball to an official- he was told to pass the ball along by another official.
Edit: Apparently the official who stole the football noticed that the officials knew he had taken the ball, and gave it back to McNally to recirculate.
The fired employee has apparently been selling footballs on the side. These footballs are typically destined for charity auctions. So an NFL employee was essentially stealing from charities.
This story is getting crazier and crazier. As I wrote last night:
Time and time again during this ordeal, bad information has spilled out, only to be refuted shortly after. There are zero indications that this report should be held with any more weight than the others that have been so readily discarded.
This is insane.