Last season, the NFL opted not to develop a full database of PSI readings from every game played, deciding instead to test air pressure on a random, sporadic basis.
After the 2015 season ended, the NFL opted not to release publicly any of the PSI readings, deciding instead to declare generally that there were no violations.
During Thursday’s conference call regarding proposed changes to the NFL’s rulebook, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe asked about the football custody and testing procedures adopted for 2015. NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent said that there will be no changes for 2016.
“There is no need for us to change our pregame protocol that pertains to game balls,” Vincent said. “We had no violations of that process, we’ll continue to [handle footballs] in the manner we’ve set forth. . . . We focus on procedure, balls being brought to the stadium. There was no violation of game balls being checked in at the appropriate time. There was no violation of game balls being in the officials locker room, being brought to the field, back to the locker rooms at halftime, and then the balls being brought back to the locker room post game. So it’s the procedure of the balls themselves.”
Vincent didn’t address the question of whether any of the tested footballs were below 12.5 PSI, the minimum permissible inflation pressure. Which means that the public and the 32 franchises will continue not to know how a violation would be determined if/when the air pressure dips below the smallest allowable amount. Is there a minimum PSI reading under various weather conditions? Did the NFL re-enlist scientific assistance to confirm based on the weather conditions that any sub-12.5 PSI readings were consistent with the Ideal Gas Law?
The league undoubtedly wants to keep all PSI readings secret because some undoubtedly were below 12.5 PSI. And if the numbers were released, plenty of people would do the math to determine whether the actual in-game measurements confirm or debunk the notion that the Patriots deliberately removed air from the footballs used in the 2014 AFC championship game.