TAMPA (CBS Tampa/AP) — A former Super Bowl-winning quarterback admits he paid people off to alter the footballs before the big game in 2003.

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson told the Tampa Bay Times that he paid “some guys” $7,500 to tamper with the 100 footballs the NFL had prior to Super Bowl XXXVII. The Bucs ended up defeating the Oakland Raiders, 48-21.

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“I paid some guys off to get the balls right,” Johnson told the Times. “I went and got all 100 footballs, and they took care of all of them.”

Johnson wanted them altered to better grip the slick footballs.

According to Pro Football Talk, Gruden – who coached the Bucs in the Super Bowl – told ESPN Radio he knew Johnson was worried about gripping the footballs, but did not say if he knew that his quarterback got them altered.

Johnson’s admission comes as the NFL continues to investigate whether the New England Patriots used under-inflated footballs in the AFC championship game.

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An ESPN report cited anonymous league sources saying 11 of the Patriots’ 12 allotted game footballs were under-inflated by 2 pounds per square inch of air. ESPN did not say how that occurred.

The Patriots, who beat Indianapolis 45-7 for the AFC title, said they were cooperating with the league, and a Seattle Seahawks spokesman said the team would defer to the league on the matter.

The NFL began looking into the issue not only because doctoring the footballs could provide a competitive advantage, but because it would compromise the integrity of the game.

Deflating a football can change the way it’s gripped by a player or the way it travels through the air. Some quarterbacks and receivers prefer balls with less air or more air than the standard.

Under NFL rules, each team provides balls each game for use when its offense is on the field. The balls are inspected before the game by the officiating crew, then handled during the game by personnel provided by the home team.

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