The entire #DeflateGate controversy sprang from the provision in Rule 2 of the official NFL rule book regarding the mandate that the football be filled with enough air to create 12.5 to 13.5 PSI of internal pressure.
That’s been the standard for a very long time, according to NFL V.P. of officiating Dean Blandino.
“I have rule books going back to 1940 in my office, and that was in the 1940 rule book,” Blandino told reporters this week during a Super Bowl football operations press conference. “[NFL Senior Vice President of Player Personnel and Football Operations] Joel Bussert, who many of you know in the league office who’s kind of a historian, he’s got rule books that go back prior to that. It’s been in there even before 1940.”
So where does the range come from?
“[W]e really rely on the experts in the football world, [football manufacturer] Wilson, to give us that number,” Blandino said. “That’s where that spectrum comes from. I feel like we will review that with Wilson and the Competition Committee to look at if we need to have a range or what will that acceptable range be.”
On one hand, it’s surprising that a rule with so much current importance to the game carries an it-was-like-that-when-I-got-here vibe. But there’s never been a question regarding whether teams were tampering with footballs to take them beyond the long-accepted range.
If some quarterbacks like the air pressure lower than 12.5 PSI, it’s fair to ask whether all quarterbacks should have that discretion. Despite the importance of respecting the integrity of the game by demanding that teams not deviate from the accepted limits, this situation naturally leads to the question of whether changing the accepted limits would in any way undermine the integrity of the game.
Many believe that footballs should have as much or as little air in them as the quarterbacks want. In a league without enough good quarterbacks to go around, maybe all quarterbacks should be given the option to put whatever amount of air in the balls they desire.