NFL referees have been given detailed instructions for closely inspecting footballs in response to Deflategate.
In what former NFL head of officiating Mike Pereira terms “an overreaction” to the controversy, the NFL told officials this weekend that they will have to change the way they go about getting footballs ready for play.
Under the new rules, the referee will designate two members of his staff to inspect every football submitted by each team to make sure they’re inflated to between 12.5 PSI and 13.5 PSI. Any footballs that fall outside the prescribed specifications will be inflated or deflated to 13.0 PSI. The officials will also number each football submitted and keep a log of the level of inflation of each football.
The league is also giving additional responsibilities to the kicking ball coordinator and an onsite league security representative to make sure no one tampers with the game balls. At some randomly selected games, the league will also test the PSI levels of footballs at halftime and after the game.
That last part is important: Some defenders of the Patriots and Tom Brady have suggested that footballs could become partially deflated over the course of a game, and that the Patriots’ footballs in the AFC Championship Game were measured at under 12.5 PSI not because the Patriots deflated them but because they were measured after they had already been used in the game. Now the NFL’s halftime and post-game testing will determine to what extend footballs lose their pressure over the course of an NFL game.
It would really be something if these new procedures reveal that footballs routinely lose some air pressure during games, and that the whole Deflategate “scandal” was the result of nothing more than footballs losing a little air because they were used in a game.