NFL changes how it treats footballs on gameday


In response to the media circus that has become “deflategate,” the NFL has implemented some changes considering how they handle game balls, how they verify those balls and how referees report their findings to league officials.

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This all stems from one cold rainy night back in January when Tom Brady and the New England Patriots throttled the Indianapolis Colts in an AFC Championship game that was over before it started. However, referee Walt Anderson’s recollection of pressure gauge readings on game balls

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prior to kick off and a pit-stop at the stadium bathroom facilities made by former Patriot’s employee Jim McNally, while the game balls were in his possession, have prompted quite series of events.

Believe it or not, prior to this season referees were not required to take pressure readings of footballs prior to games. They were not required to number/verify the balls. None of the voluntary pregame checks were overseen by an NFL employee. And maybe most damning, the balls were not escorted to the field by an NFL representative. Even in cases where the game balls were checked prior to contests, they could easily be manipulated prior to reaching the field.

The NFL will now be using the following six guidelines to prevent future instances of ball tampering.

– Wilson Sporting Goods, the company that supplies the NFL with their official game ball, will certify all pressure gauges used for testing footballs. They will also supply each referee with a primary gauge and a backup gauge. The same gauge must be used for testing PSI levels prior to, during and after a specific contest.

– A member of NFL security will oversee two game officials recording PSI levels of all 24 balls, 12 primary and 12 backup, prepared by each team. This will be completed two hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff. Only balls that test between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI will be approved. Any ball that does not test in that range will be altered to 13.0 PSI.

– Once each ball has been successfully tested it will be numbered and stamped by an official.

– A kicking ball coordinator will assume possession of the balls until ten minutes before kickoff. The NFL, not the respective teams, will employ the kicking ball coordinator. At the appropriate time, the kicking ball coordinator, accompanied by a game official and NFL security will make their way to the replay stations. Security will then distribute 12 balls to each team.

– During randomly selected games, balls will be checked at half time for PSI discrepancies. At this time, the 12 back up balls, which are stored in the official’s locker room, will be utilized and escorted to the field by NFL security. PSI will once again be checked at the end of the game.

– The referee is required to submit all readings to the NFL by noon time the following day.

These precautions certainly seem like a better way to control the quality and consistency of the footballs used on game day, but shame on the NFL for not recognizing what some consider wide spread football manipulation of game balls. Better late than never.