As the photo shows, it’s permissible to warm certain types of balls during NFL games. It’s not permissible, however, to warm footballs.
From time to time since #DeflateGate emerged, it’s been pointed out that a football-warming incident occurred in November, with far less significant consequences.
It happened in Minnesota, with the Panthers and Vikings both warned at halftime about not using sideline heaters to warm footballs on a 12-degree day. All other teams received a reminder the next day.
Reports at the time from NFL.com and ESPN.com strongly suggested that both teams were warned because both teams were doing it. The truth, per a league source with knowledge of the situation, is that the Vikings weren’t.
The confusion apparently came from accounts that it was happening on the Vikings sidelines, and from the fact that both teams were warned about it.
It’s not a big deal, as highlighted by the fact that no punishments were imposed. But it’s important to be accurate, and with the Panthers-Vikings situation getting more and more attention (especially in the wake of the Patriots’ response to the Ted Wells report), it’s only fair to set the record straight.