The NFL initially addressed DeflateGate II with a perfunctory statement that seemed on the surface to dispute the notion that the Giants raised concerns about the air pressure in Steelers footballs when the two teams met in Pittsburgh on December 4. The NFL perhaps should have rested its case on the Giants filing “no formal complaint.”
On Wednesday, Commissioner Roger Goodell said just enough about the situation to make it clear that: (1) the Giants definitely raised a concern with the league about air pressure in the Pittsburgh footballs; and (2) the NFL definitely did nothing about it.
Before Goodell responded to media questions on the issue at the press conference held in connection with the Dallas ownership meetings, it was believed based on the initial report from FOX that the Giants had expressed their concerns after the game. Obviously, there’s nothing the NFL can do to investigate PSI suspicions after a game, because there’s no way to know what the pressure in all Steelers footballs was after the game.
As it turns out, the Giants made their concerns known before the game ended.
“The Giants had asked us about it during the game,” Goodell told reporters. “We went back. We checked that. They were properly followed. All of the league protocols were being properly followed and there’s no further follow up on that. The teams didn’t follow up and we didn’t follow up any further because we were comfortable that the protocols were followed.”
In January 2015, the Colts had similar concerns about footballs used by the Patriots. At that point, the league office mobilized on the spot to check the air pressure in each of the New England footballs and, supposedly given the constraints of halftime, only some of the Indianapolis footballs. In the Giants-Steelers situation, the league did nothing to check the air pressure in the footballs, despite the Giants’ beliefs that the balls were underinflated.
So why not take possession of the footballs used by both teams and test them immediately after the game ended? The official position as explained by the Commissioner is that there was no need to do anything because the pre-game protocols were followed.
“What you do is you test the balls before the game, and the officials always maintain of those footballs from that point on,” Goodell said. “We went back and we checked with the officials to make sure they checked the proper inflation. They did that. The balls were retained in their control from that point on. So the protocols were followed all the way.
If that’s a sufficient explanation, why then does the NFL conduct halftime PSI spot checks? If the pre-game protocols are followed and if the chain of custody is undisturbed based on changes made by the league after DeflateGate I, there’s no reason to ever check football PSI after the start of a given game.
Of course, in this case, it’s now clear that the Giants tested the PSI levels of two Pittsburgh footballs. It’s clear because Goodell necessarily admitted that the Giants tested the PSI levels when explaining why the measurements taken by the Giants weren’t taken seriously.
“That’s why you don’t rely on somebody else testing them,” Goodell said. “They are using a different device. Somebody else is testing them. They have to be tested by the officials who use the same device to make sure there is accuracy in that.”
And that, friends, is called a smoking gun.
The gun is emitting white puffs because DeflateGate I proceeded even though two different gauges were used by the officials before the game — and those gauges varied by roughly 0.4 PSI. To make matters worse, the experts with a reputation for massaging science to meet the needs of their clients discarded the best recollection of referee Walt Anderson regarding the use of the varying gauges, arguably in order to make the evidence fit neatly inside the “someone deflated the footballs” box.
As I’ve said many times in the past, Ted Wells should have concluded based on the varying gauges and the rest of the proof that the evidence was inconclusive as to whether anyone tampered with the footballs. Goodell’s comments regarding the unreliability of the Giants’ PSI gauge supports that view, conclusively.
The league apparently is willing to assume the risk that Patriots fans and agitators will once again wave the “Free Brady” flag in the aftermath of DeflateGate II. After all, the rants of people like me and Ben Affleck are predictable and relatively easy to ignore.
Besides, circling the wagons and denigrating the doubters presents a much better alternative to gathering up the footballs used by both teams in the Giants-Steelers game after the final gun sounded, measuring the air pressure in every football, and realizing given the Ideal Gas Law that ALL OF THE FOOTBALLS would have been under 12.5 PSI — and possibly in the exact same range as the footballs used by the Patriots in the 2014 AFC championship game.