Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson wants DeflateGate ball as souvenir

Linebacker caught the football for an interception in January's AFC title game, and it became evidence in the DeflateGate investigation.

D'Qwell Jackson realizes it’s probably not going to happen.

But the Indianapolis Colts inside linebacker wants the football he caught for a second-quarter interception in January’s AFC Championship Game at New England.

Problem is, it’s not just any football. It’s a DeflateGate ball.

“It was something that I wanted as a souvenir,” Jackson said Friday. “Right now, to my understand, the NFL has it. I’m just trying to get my hands on it somehow, some way, through my agency, however I can, just to get it back.

“Right now, it’s not looking too good, but we’re still going to try.”

That the Colts lost the game, 45-7, didn’t dissuade the 10th-year pro from wanting what became a famous football.

When Jackson reached the Gillette Stadium sideline in Foxborough, Mass., he gave the ball to an equipment manager. The ball was then weighed and found to be under the league-mandated PSI level.

“Yeah, it just happened so fast,” he said. “I don’t remember who I actually threw it to, but I know it was probably one of the equipment guys. That’s usually what happens. You run off (after) you score a touchdown against Washington last year (on) a fumble, flipped it to those guys and you have it in your locker the next day and you have a souvenir.”

Everybody knows what’s happened since. The referees were advised. All the footballs were weighed and properly inflated for the second half.

DeflateGate became the most controversial offseason headline as the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady were investigated for the use of deflated footballs. Brady professed his innocence, an NFL investigation resulted in his four-game suspension, but a federal judge recently overturned that punishment. Jackson’s interception is mentioned in the judge’s 40-page ruling.

The NFL is appealing the decision. Jackson, 31, chooses to be hopeful, although admittedly not overly optimistic.

“For what’s going on around it and the storyline around it, I just want my souvenir,” he said. “That’s about it.

“It’s something to tell the kids, and in the future the grandkids whenever I have ‘em, whenever I have kids and grandkids when I get older. It will be an interesting story to tell and that obviously would be the proof of it.”

One of the many in-game routines, players hang onto footballs from key plays as keepsakes. Those footballs are given special commemorative treatment with a white strip and lettering of the accomplishment added. Former Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison used to keep every football caught for a touchdown pass.

It’s not the same thing to have a replacement football.

“Nah, I want the actual ball,” Jackson said. “That’s what a lot of guys do defensively, if you get a turnover or interception in a big game. To my point, it was the biggest game of my career and I was able to make a play and I just want the souvenir from it. I have a ton of other souvenirs at the house so that’s just one more piece to add to the mantle.”

Maybe some day that will happen, if DeflateGate ever ends.

“Right now, the jury is still out on that ball,” Jackson said.

Phillip B. Wilson also can be found on Facebook and Google+.

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