We all had our fun making jokes about #DeflateGate and #BallGhazi the other day when the NFL announced that it was launching an investigation into whether the New England Patriots used under-inflated footballs during Sunday night’s game, but it might not be so funny anymore.
According to ESPN senior NFL analyst Chris Mortensen, the NFL found that 11 of the 12 balls used by the Patriots game during the AFC Championship game were under-inflated.
NFL regulations state that the balls used in a game need to be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch and weigh between 14 and 15 ounces. The balls used in the game were found to be 2 pounds per square inch under, according to sources familiar with the investigation.
“We are not commenting at this time,” Greg Aiello, NFL’s senior vice president of communications, told ESPN.
Teams are usually responsible for their own footballs, which are all inspected prior to the game. The balls used on Sunday were approved by referee Walt Anderson around two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff and then returned to a ball attendant. The NFL is trying to determine how the balls became under-inflated between that check and kickoff.
The Patriots came under investigation after Indianapolis Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted the ball from Tom Brady in the second quarter. He informed the Colts’ equipment staff about the ball, who then told head coach Chuck Pagano and general manager Ryan Grigson.
The Patriots are in “complete cooperation with the league and will continue to do so,” according to Patriots spokesman Stacey James.
Now, the Colts aren’t the only ones crying foul against the Patriots. The Baltimore Ravens, whom the Patriots beat 35-31 on Jan. 10, believe that some of the kicking balls used were used slightly under-inflated; unlike the Colts game, which the Patriots won in a blowout, this outcome was much closer. An NFL spokesman told CBS Sports that he had no knowledge of a Ravens complaint.
It’s not the first time a ball has been altered for the game. Former Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson admitted to paying someone $7,500 to allow him to alter the footballs prior to Super Bowl XXXVII, which the Buccaneers won. Although it was against NFL regulations for away team quarterbacks to touch the ball before the game back then, the rules changed in 2006 to allow all quarterbacks to scuff the balls to their liking. Johnson confessed to his scheme years ago, but it’s picking up steam again in the aftermath of the accusations against the Patriots.
If the NFL finds that the Patriots deflated their footballs, the team could be fined $25,000 and lose a first-round draft pick. Fans are wondering if that’s enough punishment, and it’s leaving them even more frustrated with the NFL in a season full of frustration and anger.
Hard to determine the effect of #Deflategate. Is it a serious abuse? Or like a batter in baseball using too much pine tar?— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) January 21, 2015
Correction: An early version of this article misstated the proper inflated weight for regulation footballs. They should be between 14 and 15 ounces.