The 243-page report generated by investigator/prosecutor Ted Wells places no blame on the NFL or any of its employees or officials for the existing procedures for handling footballs and/or ensuring that the footballs at all times remain within the supposedly mandatory range of 12.5 to 13.5 PSI. The absence of even the slightest criticism of the league’s protocols flies in the face of scientific evidence confirming that, if football are inflated by game officials to 12.5 PSI at the outset of a cold-weather game (or 13.5 PSI prior to kickoff of a hot-weather game), the footballs quickly will fall out of compliance with the mandatory language of Rule 2.
Still, the report said enough without placing blame to prompt the NFL to discuss issues relating to the pregame handling and chain of custody for game balls. Owners will address that issue on Wednesday, via Ian Rapoport of NFL Media.
Rule 2 requires footballs to at all times remain under the supervision of the referee. It’s clear from the AFC title game that this doesn’t happen. Which has created plenty of opportunities for teams to either add air to footballs or remove it.
Rapoport also points out that the PSI range won’t change. While it would be impossible for the NFL to allow teams to go under 12.5 after making a big deal about #DeflateGate, the league needs to implement procedures aimed at ensuring that footballs are at all times within the permissible range. Otherwise, the league needs to revise Rule 2 to expressly state that the PSI range applies only at kickoff, regardless of how hot or cold it gets from the start of the game through its conclusion, even if another Ice Bowl at Lambeau Field lingers into triple overtime and the football eventually resembles a week-old helium balloon.