And now: DeflateGate

of the 2015 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Contrary to what you may have heard, it’s tough being a New England Patriots fan, what with the constant claim by their detractors that the team cheats. It doesn’t help that the team cheats, either.

And now, we have “Deflategate.”

WTHR in Indianapolis is reporting that the NFL is investigating whether the Patriots deflated footballs during last night’s AFC championship game.

Deflated footballs make it easier to throw and carry, although — for the record — it won’t help a receiver shake a defender. As the reporter who broke the story correctly notes…

According to the Washington Post:

The NFL rule book states that game balls must be inflated with 12.5-13.5 pounds of air. Both teams at each game must provide a dozen balls each to be tested and approved 135 minutes before game time. The home team must also have 12 reserve balls available for testing, with the road team also having that option in outdoor games. The referee, the rules state, “shall be the sole judge as to whether all balls offered for play comply with these specifications. A pump is to be furnished by the home club, and the balls shall remain under the supervision of the referee until they are delivered to the ball attendant just prior to the start of the game.”

An underinflated or deflated ball would be easier to grip, which would have been advantageous in the pouring rain Sunday night. Tom Brady completed 23 of 35 passes for 226 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception, in the Patriots’ 45-7 crushing of the Colts and LeGarrette Blount had 30 carries for 148 yards and three touchdowns.

The league is in charge of the footballs. But during the game each team “manages” the balls used on offense.

Still unclear is how “weighing” a football has any relevance in a question about how much air is inside.

Related: Bostick's botched attempt to catch onside kick turns tide (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

  • Gary F
  • Guest

    Go Seattle!

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    Why Would the NFL not completely control its game balls, including keeping them in its custody at all times?

  • Gary F

    It was common practice years ago to keep the kicking ball in a Playmate style cooler to keep it warm.

    But recently…

  • “at one point the officials took a ball out of play and weighed it.”.

    Ummm…. huh?

    • Jack Ungerleider

      Science Time! The air in the ball has mass. Less air, less mass. The inflated football is supposed to have a specific volume and pressure. That combination should correspond to a particular mass of air. The mass of the air plus the mass of the football itself should place the weight of the football in a certain range. Adjustments are needed for temperature and barometric pressure, but it should be easy enough to create a chart that shows what the weight range should be based on current weather conditions. (Before they had the spiffy coin sorting machines, banks used to weigh coin rolls to see if the had the right number of coins in them.)

      • The increase is mass is made up of air, though, isn’t it (as opposed to a role of coins)? How much more should a ball with, say 3 psi increase weigh. I’m guessing it’s pretty negligible. A cubic foot of air is .0857 pounds and the ball and the variation of an NFL football is a full ounce, and the variation of air pressure is a full pound psi..

        Why would you weigh it as opposed to simply putting a pressure gauge on it, especially since an NFL referee tests the pressure with a guage before the game?

        • Jack Ungerleider

          I don’t know. It may be a question of accuracy of the measuring device. I suspect that a properly calibrated scale is more accurate than a pressure gauge.

        • kevinfromminneapolis

          You do see officials squeezing The Duke sometimes before marking the ball on its spot, I wonder if one of them did that yesterday and noticed something? As much as they rub them up to improve the grip (like a baseball) and since they were probably heavier from being wet, I imagine weighing it wouldn’t do that much good or that someone would go, “This feels 1.6 ounces off.”

        • David

          I can’t imagine they would weigh it to determine how much air was in it. As you mention, the variation in the weight of each ball dwarfs the difference in the weight of air gained/lost as pressure is changed by a few PSI.

          They might have weighed it if they initially suspected something else was wrong with it, but I suspect someone misspoke and they actually checked the pressure as opposed to weighing the ball.

  • Dave

    I’ll tell you what was deflating: watching the Packers lose the game after having a 16-0 lead at the half.

    • That one’s on me. I was rooting for Green Bay. Sorry.

      • boB from WA

        Thanks Bob!

  • boB from WA

    Sorry folks, non-story here. Even if the balls were under inflated, that doesn’t mean one team has the advantage, because both teams would be using the same balls. The only story here is that the Colts were run over by the Pats. (which makes me wonder, how did the Colts beat Denver?)

    • The Colts balls on offense come from the Colts sideline. They must’ve been underinflated too since Revis and Collins caught them rather easily. :*)

    • BJ

      Each team brings and uses their own balls. from my understanding….

      • kevinfromminneapolis

        Which is insane. I believe the home team is responsible for balls in baseball, but the homeplate umpire is able to inspect each one and there’s no inflation issue with a solid baseball. Why the NFL would let Dukes out of its custody when there are more variables at play is beyond me, but Dez Bryant didn’t making a jumping catch and reach for the end zone either. Shrugs.

  • David P.

    A slightly deflated ball is easier to grip and catch, but won’t maintain it’s velocity nor travel as far. Since Brady is more of a touch passer, this may seem like a good trade-off to the Pats. But, a slightly deflated ball won’t kick as far – Patriot punts would have been shorter than normal and their FG kicker’s range would have been shortened. All in all I’m not sure if deflating the ball a bit gave the Pats a net advantage.
    Kevin makes an excellent point – why wouldn’t the league have a game official be responsible for inflating and maintaining the balls?
    The offense being in control of the ball goes back to before the football was standardized with one manufacturer. Balls were made by Wilson, Spaulding, Rawlings, McGregor, Voit, and others. Back in the day, some had stripes on the ends, some not. Some had 8 cross laces, some had 9. Some were bigger around, some were slightly “pointier”. Some were more like a rugby ball. In the 60’s, the NFL and AFL had slightly different balls. Different schools had different balls. The custom was to allow the offense to use their “home” ball – teams would bring their game balls with them to games. This quaint custom continues, even though the balls are now standardized.

  • Josh

    Bill has something to say about this Belichick yourself before you wreck yourself