Its no secret that the New England Patriots push the envelope when it comes to running an organization and football team. An article by Julian Sonny on EliteDaily.com titled “6 Times The New England Patriots Allegedly Cheated In Big Games,” plus everyone remembers “Spygate,” and now “Deflate-gate” shows that the Patriots are no strangers to secrecy.
The Patriots have been accused of deflating 11 of 12 footballs that they supplied (per NFL Rulebook Rule 2 Section 2) and used during the AFC Championship Game on January 18th, on Thursday January 22nd Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick said “I was completely and totally unaware of any of this that we’re talking about the last couple of days until Monday morning.” at a press conference held on Thursday January 22nd. he went on to say “I don’t have any explanation for what happened.” Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady later that same day added “I didn’t alter the ball in any way,” then went on to say “I have no knowledge of any wrongdoing, I’m very comfortable saying that.”
A lot of questions still remain unanswered and we may never know the full truth, the NFL is investigating and NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent was on Tuesday’s Pro Football Talk (PFT) Live on NBC Sports Radio, he said “We’re hoping to wrap that up in the next two or three days.” On Friday January 23rd Owner of the New England Patriots Robert Kraft said in part “It is an ongoing process that the league and our team are taking very seriously.” You can read his entire statement here.
I had a few questions of my own about footballs and how altering the air pressure in them can affect a player and the game, I contacted former equipment manager for the Utah Blaze of the Net 10 Wireless Arena Football league from 2006 thru 2013, Rory Crouch and here is what he had to say:
Have any coaches or players asked you to doctor the balls that would be oustside of the rules?
Technically yes, anything you do to the ball out of the box is breaking the rules. In the Arena League the rules state 12lbs of pressure and I inflated them to 11.5 to 11.75 PSI. Out of the box we would deflate the ball to roll the leather which breaks the leather down to make the ball less slick and thus giving it a better grip. Players have come to me to request to alter the football and 90% of the time it was the Kicker. there were games where I over-inflated the game balls where the ball boy staff would set aside these balls and be put in play for the kicking game, 1 the ball has more spring to it so for therefore the kicker can get more distance and force on the ball.
How big of an advantage does deflating the ball give a QB?
Its an advantage for the entire offense not jus the QB, everyone can grip it better. An over inflated ball would be become a bouncy ball and with an under-inflated ball you’re less likely to lose the ball because you have more contact surface.
During play of the game, Could a player tell that the ball was under inflated?
Our balls were off no more than a half pound of pressure less than required therefore its doubtful that a player could tell during the play, when you get a ball off by 2 pounds of pressure a player would definitely be able to tell that the ball has been altered, even the QB.
IF Luck likes the balls where they’re at and Brady likes his at 2 PSI Less… Wouldn’t that be just leveling the playing field?
No, the defense is now playing against a football that is under-inflated and trying to punch that ball out for a fumble for incomplete pass. An advantage for the defense with the under-inflated ball being used by the offense would be in the event of a fumble. The ball wouldn’t bounce around like a regulation inflated football. An advantage for the offense is the secrecy, knowing that the defense isn’t practicing for an under-flated ball.
Should the rules be changed so that each QB can decide what PSI their balls are?
The players union wouldn’t allow it. what happens when you change a QB during the game? will you delay the game for 45 minutes so that the equipment manager can go back in the locker room to alter 12 balls for the new QB likings? how would you govern what balls are for what players? would you have 12 balls ready for each back up QB?
How many on the staff could actually doctor footballs to bend or break the rules after the officials have certified them?
At the NFL I’m not sure. At the AFL level, at any time I could walk up to the ball boy staff and ask for the ball. Who could alter the ball and have it not be seen? Nobody could. The official touches the ball as much as anyone on the team does so why didn’t he catch that the ball was under-inflated?
I want to thank Rory for his time and insight.
What do you think should happen to the Patriots:
Loss of a draft pick?
Loss of draft picks?
Loss of a draft pick and a fine?
Loss of draft picks and a fine?
Will any punishment stop them or any team from altering the football to gain an advantage again? in my opinion the NFL will give the New England Patriots a slap on the wrist by taking away a late round draft pick and a somewhat of a heavy fine, I also think that the decision will be made after the Super Bowl.
Photo Credit: Justin Dahl of Dahl Creative.