During a visit from Bob Glauber of Newsday to Tuesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, Glauber and I had a little fun with the potential reaction of former Colts G.M. Bill Polian to the #deflategate controversy if he were still the current G.M. of the team that alerted the league to the possibility that the Patriots were letting air out of footballs to enhance the grip.
Coincidentally (or not), Glauber thereafter spoke to Polian about the situation. And Polian offered up a simple idea for eliminating the issue in the future.
“Just treat the footballs exactly like the [kicking] balls,” Polian said. “Keep them in the officials’ custody until right before the game, and once they’ve been inspected, give them to a neutral person to handle them during the game on the sidelines.”
The procedure for the kicking balls, known also as “K” balls, was adopted amid concerns that teams were doing things with the balls in order to enhance their flight. Given the existence of concerns that teams may be taking air out of (or adding air to) footballs, the next logical step is to keep the balls under the supervision of league personnel throughout the game.
As NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent explained on Tuesday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio, the ball attendants aren’t employees of the league.
“Those are team employees,” Vincent said. “Each team gives our office the footballs after their Friday practice. So those 12 balls, each team turns those in.”
Eventually, the balls are given to team employees. Changing that procedure should be enough to remove the occasion for foul play.
“I don’t want to say is much ado about nothing, and it certainly didn’t affect the outcome of the game,” Polian said. “But why would you want this issue even surfacing?”
He’s right. Making that adjustment eliminates the opportunity for a team employee either to go rogue — or to implement orders received from others with the understanding that, if the issue comes to light, the story will be that the team employee went rogue.