I know I should probably be focusing on a more NY-centric topic like the Knicks doing their best to sabotage their season by beating the Sixers last night, but football rules the news cycle always and this “deflategate” mess is the sports news of the moment.

Deflating the balls used in a game wouldn’t be hard. Once they are inspected, more than two hours before the game starts, they are placed in a zippered bag and given to the ball boy for each team. Each ball has been marked with a special mark by the referee crew to prevent illegal balls from being substituted in. (I suppose duplicating that mark wouldn’t be very difficult). To deflate a ball, you just need an inflation needle that you pop into the ball and let some air out.

Deflating a ball makes it easier to catch and hold. If you doubt this try it yourself. A fully-inflated football has some bounce to it. It is hard and doesn’t give.

Deflating a ball would make it harder to kick, but this doesn’t matter in the NFL because there are separate kicking balls used whenever there is a punt, PAT, or field goal.

This has happened before at the college level, and I think the results of that investigation are a good proxy for what may happen here. A student manager at USC was fired, and that was that.

The problem for the NFL and its investigators is going to be first proving that something was deliberately done, and then proving that it was done with orders from someone on the coaching staff.

Based on the reports we have heard so far, it seems like the NFL will have at least a circumstantial case that something was done. If 11-of-12 Patriot footballs were under-inflated, while all of the Colts balls were correctly inflated it would be impossible to argue that a freak occurrence had happened and the balls were not tampered with.

But then what? The NFL will investigate further (And we have seen how bad they are at investigating things) and interview the ball boys. Will one of them admit to deflating the ball? Probably not, but even if they do, will one of them admit to deflating a ball under the orders of a coach? I would say definitely not. And without at least one of those things happening, how would the league prove that someone tampered with the ball beyond the fact that when 11-of-12 balls for one team are under-inflated while the other teams balls are not, something was obviously done.

So this provides great fodder for the media, but I suspect it will end up with little being done.

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  • blmeanie  On January 24, 2015 at 8:06 am

    Glad to see your posts here, hadn’t been by here in a while, thought that deflate gate might get you to post.

    Anyway, while the average Patriot fan defends to the end I think it is sad if Brady truly gave the direction. Not from a changing the outcome perspective, entirely from his legacy perspective. The haters are equipped with ammo to say “what else over the years that we don’t know about” and his reputation outside of the fan base is soiled. Changes the GOAT conversation immensely.

    Now , as for the NFL. How incredibly idiotic that a company making BILLIONS has loopholes where this can be exploited. From the clock workers to the guys controlling the first down markers to controlling the footballs, all local hires and supposed to be neutral.

    Why even, are there separate balls by team? When did this start? Why? I can’t think of any good argument for having separate balls. Have a bag of balls, approved by the refs before the game, held by refs throughout by a traveling ref appointed employee and both teams share same balls on the field.

    Back to the issue. There are so many conflicting reports, plenty for the haters to grab onto and many for the blind supporters as well. As usual, the NFL is failing and will suffer in public opinion no matter what they do from here on out.

    My personal opinion on what happened? Whomever they have managing the footballs took some air out , possibly on a long standing “wish” from Brady , probably nothing recent, maybe the combination of carelessness and too much taken out and the weather impact (I believe those that say upwards of 1+ psi change could happen due to weather) made it worse than normal. I also believe the refs may have totally dropped the ball (no pun) on the pregame check. If a mundane part of your job never gets noticed or checked, couldn’t you imagine someone slacking off on that part of their job? Checked one or two and stamped all the balls? I do.

    Maybe the NFL will give in to the pressure and suspend Belichick for some portion on next season and a fine for him and the organization.

    I don’t think there is any proof or smoking gun so this is another blemish on the NFL and their overall image.

    Don’t even get me going on Ray Lewis…

  • nysportsfanatic  On January 24, 2015 at 3:18 pm

    I thought the press conference by Belichick the other day was fascinating. He basically threw Brady under the bus. As I watched it, I wondered if he was thinking more about his own legacy than anything else. After all, he has Spygate already attached to him, adding this would definitely damage what should be a no-brainer Hall of Fame case.

    And like you, I was amazed that the NFL had such lax rules and procedures.

  • blmeanie  On January 24, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    How much of an advantage can it be if the fine is only $25k? Hard to justify when they scored and played much better in second half after refs re-inflated balls too.

    • nysportsfanatic  On January 24, 2015 at 11:40 pm

      Well when was that fine put in? $25K doesn’t matter much to these owners, but years ago it would have stung a bit. My sense of most of these financial penalties is that they don’t update them that often. Wasn’t it this past year that Ron Washington was fined all of $200 for not leaving the dugout after being ejected?

      Totally agree that it didn’t make a difference in the actual game, but here’s the thing. If, as has been reported, 11-of-12 balls the Patriots were using were under inflated while all of the Colts ball weren’t, somebody deflated the Patriots balls. Somebody on that sideline thought deflating the balls would give some sort of advantage and that is worthy of punishment however trivial it ends up being.

  • blmeanie  On January 25, 2015 at 8:05 am

    Agree, but when they go to rewrite some of these rules over the offseason, how would you approach it?

    Me, I would get rid of separate balls by team first. Then truly study the benefits, if any, of lower inflated footballs. Obviously some want more pressure like Aaron Rodgers, but some like lower. Too bad. Create a standard and own it NFL.

    Think of the NBA, imagine someone like Dr. J in the day with those massive hands he had. Amount of the inflation of the game ball would have little impact on his palming ability but for others it would. Obviously the bounce and other factors would impact nba games but there could be schenanigans with nba balls over the years to help the local team. We know the Celtics (Red) were accused of many bending rules to gain an advantage (cold showers, dead spots on floor, air conditioning).

    Think of MLB, hey Yankees, send in the balls for your pitcher between innings. Don’t think many teams would play “games” with the balls to gain an edge?

    One set of balls, managed by the NFL, with certain scuffs and wear down standards, with an inflated standard.

    You know how the starters in an NBA game come out before the jump and all get a feel for the game ball? Starting next year, QB’s make sure they come out for coin flip and feel one of the game balls, spin it in their hands, toss to the other team’s QB to do the same. That is what I want.

    • nysportsfanatic  On January 25, 2015 at 9:46 am

      I think that is a good way to handle it. If baseball pitchers can all play with the same ball, why can’t NFL QB’s?

  • blmeanie  On January 25, 2015 at 9:52 am

    I really can’t imagine why it ever got to that point with separate balls? Who initiated it? Was that what I hear attributed to Peyton and Brady.

  • blmeanie  On January 29, 2015 at 6:30 am

    Great article on it, I understand it was written by a pro patriots writer but read through, interesting

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