Last January, the NFL measured football air pressure at halftime for the first time in the 95-year history of the league. As the NFL embarks on its 96th season, with plenty of questions remaining regarding whether tampering occurred at the AFC Championship Game, the NFL will not be taking the time to measure the internal PSI of each and every football, during and after each and every game.
In a document published last month, the league explains that, at randomly-selected games, the primary footballs used by the two teams will be removed from service at halftime for testing.
“At designated games, selected at random, the game balls used in the first half will be collected by the [kicking ball coordinator] at halftime, and the League’s Security Representative will escort the KBC with the footballs to the Officials’ Locker room,” the item from the league states. “During halftime, each game ball for both teams will be inspected in the locker room by designated members of the officiating and security crews, and the PSI results will be measured and recorded. Once measured, those game balls will then be secured and removed from play.”
It’s an odd approach, given that there should be enough time to measure the PSI levels during halftime of a given game and to return the footballs to service. And it will force teams to have their 12 backup balls in every given game, because the 12 primary balls can be removed from play in any given game.
The better approach would be to have a system in place to measure the PSI of all footballs at halftime and at the end of every game. That would give the league plenty of evidence to assist in any future investigations regarding potential tampering with air pressure.
It also could help the league feel better about its conclusion that the Patriots tampered with the air pressure in footballs prior to the AFC title game. Then again, it could help the league feel worse about that conclusion, too.
Which perhaps explains why the league hasn’t decided to take full advantage of the opportunity to develop comprehensive date for 256 regular-season and 11 postseason games. That data ultimately could prove that the Patriots didn’t do what the league already has concluded they did.