Deflating the ball

Full disclosure, I am a Patriots fan.

This ain’t looking good. 11 of 12 balls supplied by the Patriots were significantly underinflated when the NFL examined the balls.

Citing sources, Mortensen reports that of the 12 footballs weighed by officials before Sunday’s AFC Championship game, 11 of them came in under-inflated by two pounds of air (PSI) when weighed either after or during the Patriots’ 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

In soccer, balls are supposed to be inflated to between 8.5 PSI to 14 PSI. Typically, the higher the level of play, the harder the ball. One of the little tricks referees use to control games between teams that don’t like each other is to pump the balls to be rock solid. The objective in that case is to make the ball move more as a heavily inflated ball requires far more skill to properly control on the first touch. Tough control on the first touch means the ball is moving into space more often, the ball moving into space more often means players are less likely to be at each others’ feet, and players less likely to be at each others’ feet means fewer chances for fouls and escalation.

During a course of a soccer game, a well made ball that is fresh out of the box will lose some weight. At high level competition, the home team will supply between five and seven balls that the referees inspected and approved. Each ball will be kicked at least one hundred times during the course of play including a couple of rockets and a few punts. A good ball in good conditions between two teams that are playing hard will often drop a pound of PSI after ninety minutes of play.

Football’s offensive game balls are not subject to kicking (the K-balls are seperate) and there are only on average 120 to 140 non special teams plays per game. Each ball is only getting used for ten to fifteen plays. There are three sets of forces that could put pressure on the ball. The first is gripping and squeezing force from the running back and ball carrier. The next is snatching force by the receiver in the act of the catch, and the final is drop to the ground force on an incompletion. The first two sets of forces on the ball are fairly violent but not extreme. Ten to fifteen incidences of these forces should not deflate most balls that are used in a professional or college game.

No way in hell did eleven of twelve balls all naturally deflate during the course of play. I could see one or two losing a pound or two of pressure, and then another couple balls getting a few ounces light, and most of the balls hanging out at the bottom end of permissible if this was a random event, but not eleven out of twelve balls consistently being underweight.

Did it decide the course of a 45-7 game? Hell no, but it was a small tilting of the odds in favor the Patriots where it might have mattered in a 13-7 game.






266 replies
  1. 1
    JPL says:

    It doesn’t look good. Is it possible that the scale was tampered with? I would assume with so many cameras, it would be difficult to deflate the balls after game time.

  2. 2
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    I’m confused about a couple of things here:

    [1] Each team gets its own balls, which they can under inflate to heart’s content? Why wouldn’t the NFL (or whatever the governing body is) supply all the balls used in a game — especially a game with so much riding on the outcome?

    B. In any case, shouldn’t there be some kind of pre-game inspection?

    (Completely obvious, superfluous, and unnecessary disclaimer: I know nothing about football.)

  3. 3
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @JPL: What did the Colts’ balls weigh? My bet is that they were legal with mild deflation due to game use… but nothing too extreme.

    And realistically, it would not be too hard to deflate. If I was a ball boy, I can palm a needle into the hole fairly easily and let out a splurt of air at a time. And as a referee, I can easily feel the difference between an 11 pound Wilson versus a 12 pound Wilson and a 13 pound Wilson… so the ballboy whose main job is holding balls should be able tell the difference when they get to the sweet spot.

  4. 4
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Each team supplies balls that they used in practice during the week. The goal is to get the new ball feel off the balls. They’re too slick out of the box.

    135 minutes before kick-off, the teams give the balls to the referees. The refs measure and check inflation. If they meet criteria for weight, pressure and condition, the ball gets marked as approved. At this point, the balls’ conditions should be “frozen”

    Teams can then use their approved and frozen game balls for warm-ups etc.

  5. 5
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    Of the forces, you left out “crushed under player when tackled”

  6. 6
    geg6 says:

    Well, it’s not it’s the first time the Pats have cheated. And it won’t the be last. At least, not as long as Belichick is coaching.

  7. 7
    c u n d gulag says:

    I’m pretty sure that Bill B’s not the only Head Coach who cheats.

    But he’s the only one who get’s caught.

    This was Bill B’s “Watergate” moment.
    He cheated to win that which he was about to win easily.
    Numbnuts…

  8. 8
    c u n d gulag says:

    I’m pretty sure that Bill B’s not the only Head Coach who cheats.

    But he’s the only one who get’s caught.

    This was Bill B’s “Watergate” moment.
    He cheated to win that which he was about to win easily.
    Numbnuts…

  9. 9
    Gavin says:

    Officials inspected the balls 2.25 hours before the game and verified the balls passed the test. Did they perform the tests indoors or out? 70 degrees vs 20 does matter for PSI — think about how the external temp affects your car tires.

    Is it specified that they should weigh the balls after the game? Where? What’s the acceptable change during a game where weather is more prevalent? Why is the defined measurement 2.25 hours prior to the game?

    If they inflate the balls inside with warm air, or test inside near the warm air – after playing outside in 20 degree weather – that PSI is decreasing.

    The next step after the current inflation measurement concerns the security of those balls once inflated and confirmed – eg, during the 2.25 hours prior to the game. Current state is: Nothing happens. Whose control are they under? The referee?

    I heard somewhere that they’re re-measured 15 minutes before the game, but I can’t find this anywhere posted, so I can’t verify that as fact.

    Do the referees have control of them until they’re on the sidelines?

    If so [and only if BOTH the 15-minute re-measurement actually happens, AND the refs have control] then this could only have happened in-game, as was reported initially.

  10. 10
    dedc79 says:

    So 11 of 12 were deflated. Meaning one wasn’t. I know there’s a guy who checks (or is supposed to check) the balls a few hours before game time. Makes me wonder if he just checks one and if they gave him the one they knew wasn’t deflated. Other possibilities are that (1) he doesn’t actually check them and the Pats knew that, or (2) he checked them and the Pats waited until afterwards to deflate them and missed one.

  11. 11
    cokane says:

    im not sure how deflated game balls give the patriots an edge though? unless they were practicing with deflated balls all week, which it seems to me, would be a hard conspiracy to keep under wraps.

    i’m not trying to defend the pats at all. you are right that what they did was most certainly tampering and against the rules. i just don’t see how it necessarily tilts the competitive advantage in their favor.

  12. 12
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @cokane: A slightly deflated ball is easier to grip

  13. 13
    indycat32 says:

    Colts fan here. No, it didn’t affect the outcome of the game, but that’s not the point.The point is Belichick cheats. This time he got caught. How many times didn’t he get caught? Brady has said he prefers an underinflated ball.

    ETA: During spygate Belichick’s defense was that it didn’t help. And yet he had been doing it for years. What’s that definition of insanity again?

  14. 14
    Buffalo Rude says:

    @dedc79: The 12th ball was probably the ball used for kicking, which anyone would want fully inflated.

  15. 15
    Shakezula says:

    I’m fascinated by the logic here. “OK, we know it will take a direct act of God for us to lose this game, but let’s cheat a bit, just to make sure.”

  16. 16
    jharp says:

    “Did it decide the course of a 45-7 game?”

    No way to tell.

    It might have been a different game if they go in tied at the half.

  17. 17
    Gavin says:

    @Gavin:

    There is no 15 minute check by the referee.. only the 135-minute check.

  18. 18
    JPL says:

    @Gavin: I wonder if the Colts b.alls were tested after the game.

  19. 19
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @Steve in the ATL: slightly more difficult to throw, slightly easier to catch.

  20. 20
    Steve in the ATL says:

    @Buffalo Rude: There are special balls used for kicking which are separate from the regular game balls

    Note: I am not defending Bellichek!

  21. 21
    HRA says:

    Brady said he likes the softer balls in an interview after the first news about the balls being too soft. During the game an official switched a ball before the Pats kickoff. In addition there is another issue floating out there about a time clock, too.

    Of course, the above is what I have read online. I don’t watch any Pat’s game unless they are playing against the Bills.

    Go Seahawks!

  22. 22
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @cokane: My best guess is that the Patriots looked at the weather forecast for Sunday (cool, windy, wet) and made a series of equipment adjustments for the game including:

    *long cleats versus short cleats
    *extra jackets for the sidelines
    *hand towels for the QB

    and potentially slightly lighter balls. My guess is that it was a “weather adjustment” that went into play early in the week… and honestly, much like swimmers not shaving until the night before a big meet, I would imagine that the Patriots and other teams want to practice in slightly worse conditions than they play, so the conspiracy of silence would be minimal.

  23. 23
    daveNYC says:

    @Buffalo Rude: Kicking balls are a separate batch.

    The game was a blowout, so in hindsight cheating looks moronic, but that’s all hindsight.

  24. 24
    srv says:

    I find all this argominutiae about football very draining.

    We should talk about more important things, like the SOTU that is coming next month:

    WASHINGTON (AP) — Rebuffing President Barack Obama on Iran, House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday he had invited Israel’s prime minister to address a joint meeting of Congress next month about the threats from Tehran and radical Islam.

  25. 25
    rb says:

    Obviously it’s extremely hard to sketch a scenario where this could possibly have change the outcome of the game.

    But the week before (Baltimore)? Something like this could actually be decisive. I haven’t heard of any allegations coming out of that game, but it does make you wonder.

    I assume all teams bend the rules, but Pats seem to do it more than most (or at least are more up front about it.) Probably a simple cost/benefit analysis: there’s some trivial chance this could win us a game, and a similarly trivial chance it could cost us a late round draft pick. The latter having almost no definitive value, cheat away.

    Disappointing as this is, it’s probably a good corrective to all the “integrity of the game” and “protect the shield” nonsense that is constantly strewn about. Teams will do what they need to win – the incentives are just too overwhelming – and the more audacious, creative game callers are probably the more audacious, creative cheaters too.

  26. 26
    kbuttle says:

    The Pats are so sketchy.

    But hell, from an unscrupulous coaching/ownership perspective the incentives seem all to cheat: how much will their fine be for being found guilty relative to the revenue they pull in for playing in an extra game? That extra game being the Super Bowl…

  27. 27
    Amir Khalid says:

    If the Patriots are found to have deliberately tampered with the match balls, I would expect them to be automatically disqualified from the Super Bowel match, even if the tampering wouldn’t have made a difference in a match they won by a rout. Cheating is that serious. Losing a draft pick seems a slap on the wrist by comparison.

  28. 28
    A Ghost To Most says:

    The New England Cheatriots vs the Seattle SmackTalks – ugh!

    Guess I’ll go up in the mountains that day

  29. 29
    dedc79 says:

    @Buffalo Rude: Ah that makes even more sense.

  30. 30

    Psi? Is this a joke? Even the British don’t use the foot-pound system anymore. When are we going to junk this arcane system of units?

  31. 31
    rlrr says:

    “It’s all Obama’s fault.”
    — Fox “News”

  32. 32
    marduk says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    I’m pretty sure that Bill B’s not the only Head Coach who cheats.

    But he’s the only one who get’s caught.

    Aaron Rogers confessed to and was quoted on a national television broadcast that Green Bay frequently overinflates their footballs and tries to sneak them past the refs. Universal reaction- Oh that lovable scamp, football gamesmanship is so funny. Patriots get accused of using underinflated footballs. Universal reaction- DEATH TO THE PATRIOTS!!!

  33. 33
    kbuttle says:

    @Amir Khalid:
    Your expectation is going to be disappointed. All news coverage has suggested that if found guilty, “the team could face a fine.”

  34. 34
    Amir Khalid says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    Incidentally, what is 12 to 13.5psi in Newtons per square metre?

  35. 35

    Psi? Is this a joke? Even the British don’t use the foot-pound system anymore. When are we going to junk this arcane system of units?

  36. 36
    Edmund Dantes says:

    Look no one cares when other teams cheat.

    Aaron Rodgers likes to overinflate and get it past the officials.

    The Vikings were shown on the sidelines heating balls illegally this year.

    I’ll take the same punishment the Vikings received.

    Take a guess as to what it was?

  37. 37
    c u n d gulag says:

    @rlrr:
    Well, in all fairness, Obama deflated a lot of conservatives balls last night.

  38. 38
    Tommy says:

    I just don’t get it.

    Let me start off by saying I can’t stand the Pats. You know why, they are both a solid, top-notch organization and they just win, win, and win some more. And by top-notch I mean they have a system in place, a system that works. You cause problems you get cut. Fumble the ball, you drop from first string to third string. You are a “star” and you want so much money it will hurt the team’s ability to keep the core in place, “goodbye” we will just reload with some fifth rounder and make him a stud.

    As a fan and former ticket holder of a team it isn’t even PC to say their name anymore, I am so jealous of the Patriots. I wish my team’s ownership and front office was half the organization the Pats are.

    That is why I can’t for the life of me get why they would do something like this or back a few years “Spygate.” It just seems so dare petty. Oh and I guess hindsight is 20/20, but I think Brady could have been throwing a bowling ball and they would have still won Sunday.

  39. 39
    Amber says:

    Isn’t this a ref problem!? If the balls were intentionally deflated, how did not one ref notice? Why, if it was noticed, did those balls continue to be used? Another commentator already brought up the drastic change it weather. Were the Colt’s ball weighed as a control group? What was the difference?

    Why would the Patriots do this? People love conspiracy theories, but there has to be some benefit to make it work. Every single person is saying it wouldn’t have mattered and quite frankly with the crazy weather, it would have been a risky move and just as likely to hurt as help them. People who hate Belichick just say he cheats to cheat. Please. Want a real conspiracy theory? Someone on the Colt’s side did this to the balls to discredit the Patriots. Bam, you heard it here first! Go forth and conspiracy theorize now!

    And please, “spygate”. You mean the thing each team did for YEARS, but the rules changed for the 2007 season and the Patriots did it and got slapped with a fine? Yeah, not a huge conspiracy or cheating “plan”. The other claims that the media payed so much attention to, well those were investigated and found to be false. Yet somehow that never gets brought up by the haters….hmmmm.

    As a Pats fan, I am concerned that they were found to be deflated. However, rather than jump into a conspiracy bandwagon, I’ll wait to see what is found out. Namely, how did it happen and by whom!

  40. 40
    c u n d gulag says:

    @marduk:
    Good point.

    Over the last decade, plus, the NE Patriots are looked upon as the NY Yankees of football – easy to hate, whether they win a title, or not.

  41. 41
    kbuttle says:

    @marduk:
    Unless the Packers are out there with bicycle pumps hidden in their warmups, you’re a bit off topic. The Pats aren’t being accused of trying to sneak under-inflated balls past the refs, but submitting regulation balls and then tampering during game time.

  42. 42

    @geg6:

    Well, it’s not it’s the first time the Pats have cheated. And it won’t the be last. At least, not as long as Belichick is coaching.

    This. Belichick is constantly looking for that last little edge, and he’s never let the rules get in his way. I’m sure that other teams engage in minor cheats once in a while, but it sure seems as if the Patriots get caught for it significantly more than anyone else.

  43. 43

    @Amir Khalid: 1 Pascal = 6900 psi according to Google.

  44. 44
    Jager says:

    From what I’ve read so far, the refs were informed by the Colts before half-time and checked the balls during half time. The score was 17-7 at the half so the game wasn’t a blow out at that point.. Did they re-inflate the balls to spec or did the officials just let the Pats use the under-inflated balls for the rest of the game?

  45. 45
    Violet says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    the Super Bowel match

    I think that’s the July 4th hotdog eating contest.

  46. 46
    bobbyk says:

    Um, the score of the game is beside the point. The patriots cheated and this game could just as easily have been a 3 point game-then what? Also I’m wondering about that Ravens game. If they did this during that game, that absolutely would have influenced the outcome.

    BTW, they were cheating during 3 Super Bowls they won by 3 points each. Is anyone going to argue the cheating didn’t help the patriots win these games?

  47. 47

    @Amir Khalid:

    Incidentally, what is 12 to 13.5psi in Newtons per square metre?

    Well, one atmosphere is 14.7 psi or 101.5 kPa, so 12-13.5 psi should translate to approximately 80-90 kPa.

  48. 48
    marduk says:

    @kbuttle:

    The Pats aren’t being accused of trying to sneak under-inflated balls past the refs, but submitting regulation balls and then tampering during game time.

    Who is accusing them of this? If they wanted to use underinflated balls they could have just inflated them before the initial inspection with hot air. There’s been no evidence of actual gametime tampering presented or alleged.

  49. 49
    Amir Khalid says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    Convert-me.com tells me it’s 82,740 to 93,080 Pascals.

  50. 50
    RareSanity says:

    @cokane:

    The underinflated balls are easier for the quarterback to grip (and therefore throw), especially in the rain. In what was most assuredly a coincidence, heavy rain was predicted, and occurred, during the game.

    Whether or not the balls had an effect on the game’s outcome in irrelevant…the only thing that matters is that the Patriots are cheaters. This is the second time they’ve been caught cheating, so who knows how much cheating they actually do.

    We’re not talking about a little tap of the golf ball when nobody’s looking, to give yourself a better angle on a shot. We’re talking about pre-planned, coordinated, acts of cheating.

    Every coach or player will try to pus ht limits of what they can get away with, to try and gain an advantage. But that is usually during gameplay, like flopping to draw foul calls, or holding when the ref isn’t looking.

    The Patriots, however, wake up in the morning intending to cheat. They plan their cheating…it’s a part of who they are.

    The really ridiculous thing is that Belichick deserves all the comparisons to Nixon he’s getting. He’s a brilliant coach, with a Hall of Fame quarterback, but he’s so obsessed with winning, he can’t even trust his own abilities…so he cheats anyway.

    Pathetic.

  51. 51
    Couldn't Stand the Weather says:

    This kind of shit goes on in big time sports way too much. I am getting kind of numb to it.

    Years ago, I read about a NBA game where the home team deflated the basketballs, as the Patriots apparently did last week. This was done to slow down the visiting team’s fast break, as I recall.

    The NBA has plenty of the usual sports baggage. Owners like Sterling, a dirty referee (and those who think there was only one bad ref, I got a bridge and several national parks to sell you), players toking and juicing, and playoffs that are too lengthy. The NFL is actually worse, with all of the bad PR of the last 12 months.

    The Pats will keep Belichick. Goodell and the rest of the NFL will give the Pats a slap on the wrist, if that.

    Move along people, nothing to see here. Somewhere, Pete Rose and the members of the 1919 White Sox are laughing. Integrity of the game, indeed.

  52. 52
    Randy Khan says:

    I find it remarkable that the NFL lets the teams supply the balls (and even more remarkable that each team supplies its own balls to be used when it’s on offense). The rules, in fact, specifically allow a certain amount of doctoring of the balls by each team, which I find even more remarkable.

    None of this excuses cheating, but it’s a system that just begs for people to try for advantages -even lets them do it legally within certain boundaries – rather than setting a level playing field.

  53. 53

    @schrodinger’s cat:
    That’s backward. 1 psi should be about 6900 Pa, not the other way around.

  54. 54

    @Roger Moore: You must be a chemist, I had a flash back to my physical chemistry class, atmospheres, gas constant and what not. In physics one hardly plugs any numbers beyond the freshman level.
    @Roger Moore: You are right of course. That’s what I had meant to write, got it backwards. I has no kittehs here to blame it on either.

  55. 55
    dylan says:

    @Gavin: A tire loses 1lb of pressure for every 20 F degree drop in air temp. Is the NFL the only league in which the teams supply the balls. Teams don’t supply the puck in hockey or balls in baseball. I can’t understand why the league doesn’t supply the balls period. If they are too slick, then have some designated mechanism for scuffing them beforehand. I don’t cheer for the Pats but this is out of proportion Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning have both said that they prep balls a certain way that they like (over-inflated) so I am sure most teams are doing it.

  56. 56
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Violet:
    I considered fixing the typo. Then I said to myself, “Nah, leave it …”

  57. 57
    Morzer says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    If the Patriots are found to have deliberately tampered with the match balls, I would expect them to be automatically disqualified

    By the NFL? That’s so charmingly naive. I want to hug it and take it home and tuck it up with a teddybear.

    Put it this way: there’s a very pragmatic reason why Kraft has been such an obsequious Goodell loyalist over the past few years.

  58. 58
    vtr says:

    I wouldn’t question any fact or assumption about this, but I wonder. Don’t both teams use the same footballs? Who’s in charge of watching the footballs between the initial inspection before the game and the end of the game? If it’s considered a serious infraction of stated rules, might the League scrape together a few of its remaining dollars and have all the balls kept in a container supervised by an official to make sure they’re not tampered with? Especially in playoff games? I’m not questioning the possibility that Bill B., or whether Tom Landry or Vince Lombardi or Al Davis cheated, but the possibility of cheating in this case would be easy to prevent.

  59. 59

    @Roger Moore: You must be a chemist, I had a flash back to my physical chemistry class, atmospheres, gas constant and what not. In physics one hardly plugs any numbers beyond the freshman level.
    @Roger Moore: You are right of course. That’s what I had meant to write, got it backwards. I has no kittehs here to blame it on either.

  60. 60
    gene108 says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Psi? Is this a joke? Even the British don’t use the foot-pound system anymore. When are we going to junk this arcane system of units?

    Only way it happens is if America’s economy tanks so much the rest of the world can say, “we are no longer going to make stuff to sell in you market in none metric units, therefore get with the programme (yeah, add the extra ‘me’ back to get in line with the rest of the English speaking world, TYVM).”

    As it is America’s economy is large enough that the it is worth the effort to make things unique for America.

    Secondly, there’s a large contingent of people in this country who will feel America is caving into to some strange international conspiracy by using the sissy-French-Metric-System of weights and measures and will fight it tooth and nail.

  61. 61
    Violet says:

    @Amir Khalid: It’s an apt description of the upcoming NFL match.

  62. 62
    kbuttle says:

    @marduk:
    Hot air: fair point. I forgot my physics, and blog subtitle apparently. We’ll see what shakes out of the investigation.

  63. 63
    qwerty42 says:

    All over on Deadspin
    http://deadspin.com/report-11-.....1680811735
    but a commenter added:

    Is this taking into account temperature differences? Because a pretty straightforward back-of-the-envelope calculation shows that if a ball was inflated to 12.5 psi at 70 F (a perfectly reasonable inside temperature) and is allowed to cool to 30 F (the ambient temperature around the time of Brady’s INT), the difference comes out to just about 2 psi. I’m happy to show my work if anyone wants to see it.

    I believe a few here have made the same observation.

  64. 64
    rlrr says:

    @gene108:

    Secondly, there’s a large contingent of people in this country who will feel America is caving into to some strange international conspiracy by using the sissy-French-Metric-System of weights and measures and will fight it tooth and nail.

    That large contingent people are known as conservatives…

  65. 65

    Are the Sea Hawks expecting to lose? Is that why they have started these rumors about the Pats?

  66. 66
    RareSanity says:

    @marduk:

    Wrong.

    He admitted that he liked his football to be, “on the high-end of the acceptable scale”, and didn’t like the fact that the ones in the game were usually closer to the lower end.

    Secondly, an over-inflated ball would actually be seen as a disadvantage to the offense using them, because it would be harder to grip, and harder to catch. So even if he did “admit” to over-inflating footballs, no one says anything because that’s a disadvantage, not an advantage…i.e. not cheating.

    He ended that interview by saying that while he thought there should be a lower limit, there was no good reason to have an upper limit…which is true.

    @Amber:

    Isn’t this a ref problem!?

    It is also a ref problem, in the regard that they didn’t catch it during the game. However, it is still a Patriot problem because, not being caught during the game, doesn’t erase the fact that they still cheated, and were caught by someone.

    Someone tipped the NFL off to check those balls after the game, even if it wasn’t one of the game officials.

    You can bet that there will be an edict handed down to the referees, that after this embarrassment, they sure as hell better be paying closer attention to the inflation of the balls during the game.

  67. 67
    Violet says:

    @Richard Mayhew:

    If I was a ball boy, I can palm a needle into the hole fairly easily and let out a splurt of air at a time.

    Does the NFL have ball boys? Who is in charge of handing the balls to the officials or players if a new ball is needed?

  68. 68

    @Randy Khan:

    The rules, in fact, specifically allow a certain amount of doctoring of the balls by each team, which I find even more remarkable.

    That doesn’t seem so outrageous to me. There’s always a balance between personal preference and uniformity in equipment. And the ball in American football is different from the ball in basketball or soccer, where the same ball is shared by both teams. Each team is able to maintain possession of the ball for an extended stretch, so it makes sense that they’d be given some leeway in customizing the ball to their preference.

  69. 69
    Morzer says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    By cunningly forcing the Patriots to cheat on multiple acknowledged occasions – and, for that matter, to stand up in front of the owners’ meeting and publicly apologize for doing so? How did the Seahawks manage that? It’s hard to say, at this point, that any team has done more to damage the NFL over the last 20 years than the Patriots.

  70. 70
    BGinCHI says:

    WE INTERRUPT YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED PROGRAMMING

    to announce

    FUCK Bob Menendez:

    http://talkingpointsmemo.com/l.....ing-points

  71. 71
    RareSanity says:

    @Randy Khan:

    There is good reason for this.

    When new, footballs have a kinda of slick “sheen” to them. So the balls are used by the teams in practices to “break them in”. They are all the same model of ball, but different teams/players may do different things to the balls to get the to feel how they want it to. Some put them through several cycles in a dryer, some like to rub them around in sand, etc.

    As long as the ball meets the NFL standards, then they are fine to use in the game. It’s all fair, because each team gets to use their own balls during the game.

    That is something that is true at all levels of football…teams use their own balls when they are on offense.

  72. 72
    marduk says:

    @RareSanity: You said I was wrong and then went on to not disagree with anything I wrote. Weird. He said he liked to play with balls that were overinflated and often tried to sneak them past the refs. The allegation is that the Pats like balls that are underinflated and snuck them past the refs. It’s a perfect 1:1 correspondence in behavior.

  73. 73

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    You must be a chemist

    Yep. I have to know this stuff because my lab has a mixture of American and European equipment. American equipment tends to measure high pressures in psi and vacuum in Torr, while European equipment tends to measure both in bar. Then there are international companies with both American and European branches, where different components measure using different units. Not to mention the joy of needing to keep complete sets of inch and metric tools.

  74. 74
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Roger Moore:
    But a change of possession during play, while rare in the gridiron sport, is still always a possibility, isn’t it? And then the defending team must attack with a ball tweaked to their opponents’ liking.

  75. 75
    RareSanity says:

    @Violet:

    Does the NFL have ball boys?

    Not as a league, but each team has their own ball boy. Which is why it would be possible to deflate balls during the game.

    Who is in charge of handing the balls to the officials or players if a new ball is needed?

    The team’s ball boy. But that ball boy, is supposed to be handing the ref one of the balls that were inspected and approved before the game…unaltered from when they were inspected.

  76. 76

    @Morzer: Consider yourself trolled. I don’t care much about football anyway.

  77. 77
    MomSense says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    Over the last decade, plus, the NE Patriots are looked upon as the NY Yankees of football

    Ok that made me throw up in my mouth a little bit. Would rather watch a McConnell press conference than consider that comparison and I loathe McConnell.

  78. 78
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    @BGinCHI: and John Boehner has invited BiBi Netanyahu to address the a joint session of Congress on the imminent threat from Iran.

  79. 79
    gene108 says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    And then the defending team must attack with a ball tweaked to their opponents’ liking

    The defending teams attack will either result in a score for the defending team or a change in possession, where the offensive unit will then come on and use their own ball.

  80. 80

    @Roger Moore: Oh you poor thing. That sounds confusing and tough. If it were me, I would be breaking equipment. The only experiments I found more excruciating than the physical chemistry lab were anything to do with optics, involving optical benches and/or spectroscopes.

  81. 81
    Morzer says:

    @MomSense:

    It is rather unfair to the Yankees, loathsome though they are.

  82. 82

    @RareSanity:

    there was no good reason to have an upper limit…which is true.

    There is a need for an upper limit for kicking balls, which the kicking team wants to be as hard as possible both to help the kicker and to hinder the receiver. There’s also presumably a physical upper limit to what the balls can take, and they need to be kept well short of that to eliminate the risk of rupturing when they’re subject to abuse.

  83. 83
    RareSanity says:

    @marduk:

    He said he liked to play with balls that were overinflated and often tried to sneak them past the refs.

    He DID NOT say that he liked to play with “over-inflated” balls. He said he liked is balls, “on the high-end of the acceptable scale”…that’s NOT over-inflated.

    Over-inflated would be over the top-end of the acceptable scale.

    He also never said that he tried to “sneak” any balls passed the officials. The only way to do that, would be to try and get them pass the pre-game inspection, and that’s not really “sneaking”. He never used the words “sneak” or “sneaking” in the radio interview you are referring to.

    I listened to it.

  84. 84
    catclub says:

    @srv: State of the Unhinged?

  85. 85
    BGinCHI says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: I saw that. It’s why we can’t have nice things. Corruption and stupidity.

    Although if I was Bibi and the Israelis, I’d be careful about getting courted by Boehner and his idiot caucus. That’s a good way to get marginalized.

  86. 86
    raven says:

    @RareSanity: What’s cookin? Long time. The Jackets turned out to ben quite good this year!

  87. 87
    Gavin says:

    Pats didn’t cheat – they found a hole big enough for LeGarrette Blount in the definition of a measurement system. I’m not a Pats fan, I’m an industrial engineer.. and that measurement system is atrocious.

    ALL the balls passed ALL the tests.

    Will the measurement system be tightened after the season? Probably.

  88. 88

    @Amir Khalid:
    Yes, if there’s a turnover then the previously defending team will have to play for a short time with the other team’s ball. But that’s for a strictly limited time. The ball will be substituted at the next stoppage of play, which happens after at most a few seconds. It’s such a minor point that it’s barely worth considering.

  89. 89
    JPL says:

    Why aren’t all the balls tested after the game? It seems that minor rule change would solve the problem, if there is one.

  90. 90
    Violet says:

    @RareSanity: So the ball boy theoretically could, as Richard said, deflate the ball before handing it to the official.

  91. 91
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Roger Moore:
    Ah, I see.

  92. 92
    catclub says:

    @Roger Moore:

    so it makes sense that they’d be given some leeway in customizing the ball to their preference.

    does not make much sense to me. Both teams should use the same balls, supplied by the refs.
    Should pitchers be allowed to customize the ball to their preference? Or batters?

  93. 93
    RareSanity says:

    @raven:

    What’s up Raven?

    Haven’t seen ya in a month of Sundays.

    @Gavin:

    Pats didn’t cheat – they found a hole big enough for LeGarrette Blount in the definition of a measurement system.

    Yes, they did.

    ALL the balls passed ALL the tests.

    Because they were tampered with during the game. The NFL has said that the balls were inspected before the game, and that they were found to be under the acceptable inflation pressure, after the game.

    That’s why this is such a big deal. Do you actually think people would be making such a big deal of this if the Patriots had just found a loophole in a rule?

    They cheated. They decreased the pressure in the balls they used on offense after the officials inspected and approved them.

  94. 94
    SRW1 says:

    @Roger Moore:

    But how many meters of water column is that? That’s the only unit of pressure that ever seemed to have any real meaning to me.

  95. 95

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    That sounds confusing and tough.

    Not really. The pressures I deal with are more about the health and well being of the instruments than the actual measurements we’re making, and because of that they’re instrument specific. After a while, you get to know what the tolerable limits are for each piece of equipment in the units it presents you and that’s that. On the rare occasions when you need to convert, you can get away with a fairly rough and ready conversion, e.g. 15 psi = 1 bar and 3 millitor = 4E-3 millibar.

  96. 96
    RareSanity says:

    @Violet:

    Absolutely.

    The ball boy will only be carrying 3 or 4 balls at a time. Each team is required to submit a total of 12, so the other 8-9 balls are just in a bag on the team’s bench.

    So it could have been someone on the bench deflating them, then cycling out the deflated balls with the ball boy.

    It wouldn’t necessarily have been the ball boy himself…but it could have been, definitely. Keep an inflation needle in the palm of his hand, and let out a little bit of air from each ball that he’s holding.

  97. 97
    D58826 says:

    @cokane: dUMB question – but wouldn’t the Colts be using the same deflated balls?

  98. 98
    Cacti says:

    @c u n d gulag:

    I’m pretty sure that Bill B’s not the only Head Coach who cheats.

    But he’s the only one who get’s caught.

    This was Bill B’s “Watergate” moment.
    He cheated to win that which he was about to win easily.
    Numbnuts…

    That’s what I was thinking.

    Andrew Luck has never played well against New England, and all signs pointed to a game that the Patriots were going to win handily.

    So, why cheat?

  99. 99
    brantl says:

    There could be substantial force when falling on the ball, Richard, and more when multiple people fall on the ball.

  100. 100
    Cacti says:

    @D58826:

    dUMB question – but wouldn’t the Colts be using the same deflated balls?

    No, each team supplies 12 game balls for when they’re on offense. 8 kicking balls are supplied by the League.

  101. 101
    D58826 says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Maybe I missed it but when did we elect Bibi to anything that qualifies him to speak before the Congress to dictate US policy?????

  102. 102
    raven says:

    @RareSanity: Not much, we’re in the middle of the major sewer relocation on out block and the joint is trashed! I caught one of your posts just after the GA-GA Tech game and shot you a congrats!

  103. 103

    @SRW1:

    But how many meters of water column is that?

    Fresh water or salt water? How salty? More seriously, that would be somewhere around 8-9 meters of water. My rough and ready conversion is that 1 bar = 10 meters = 15 psi.

  104. 104
    RareSanity says:

    @D58826:

    dUMB question – but wouldn’t the Colts be using the same deflated balls?

    No. Each team uses their own ball when they are on offense.

    This was discovered initially, because after a Colts player intercepted a pass from Tom Brady, he brought the ball over to the sideline and told his coaches, “This ball doesn’t feel right.”

    So even though each team uses their own balls on offense, this came up because the Colts actually got hold of one of the Patriots balls, because of an interception.

  105. 105
    D58826 says:

    @Cacti: Ah live and learn. Simple solution either the league supplies all of the balls or they put the team balls in a bag, shake it up and pick them at random.

  106. 106
    RareSanity says:

    @raven:

    Yeah I remember those threads, we kept missing each other…haha

    Anything that requires digging up the street or yards always sucks.

  107. 107
    Calouste says:

    @gene108: Metrification is steadily creeping along in the United States. Nutritional information on food for example is almost all in grams, just the portion size might be in ounces, but even then it will have the amount in grams next to it. Total size of the product is always both in grams and ounces. Bottles for water and soft drinks in half liters, liters and 2 liters are common. Medicine is all metric as well.

  108. 108
    Violet says:

    @RareSanity:

    Each team uses their own ball when they are on offense.

    I prefer rugby where players have to play offense and defense because the ball changes hands and the game doesn’t stop to put on a different set of players. That’s the way American football used to be played.

  109. 109
    Cermet says:

    One point about this issue that some don’t appear to understand and that may or may not have been addressed already: if a ball is weighed rather than pressure tested, then outside air temperature means absolutely nothing. That is one reason I would think is why the NFL weighs the ball and does not pressure check it each time. Outside air temperature will change the inside pressure of the ball but not the total quantity of air (which is what creates the standard once the ball is first inflated to proper pressure regardless of current air temperature.) The other being that repeated direct gauge pressure checks would deflate a ball. Weighing corrects both these issues (by the way, air (liquid) is heavier than water and more importantly, this applies to both these substances when vapors; hence, moist air is LESS dense than dry air.)

  110. 110
    Gavin says:

    @RareSanity:

    This isn’t emotional.

    The rules define when the ball is to be measured. Breaking the rules is the definition of cheating. The balls passed the defined test – therefore the Pats didn’t cheat. Black and white.

    They may very well have broken an UNWRITTEN rule… but the lack of specificity is the fault of the competition committee.

  111. 111
    Eric U. says:

    @Morzer: ya, the NFL isn’t going to stop PED use among their players until they are forced. Because outlandish physical prowess translates directly into ticket sales. In that atmosphere, arguing over some underinflated footballs seems a little silly.

    @Cermet: I’m too lazy to do the calcs, but 2 psi of air in the volume of a football weighs nearly nothing. You would need a scale that costs quite a bit to do that

  112. 112
    David in NY says:

    @A Ghost To Most:

    Guess I’ll go up in the mountains that day

    Always a great day to be in the mountains — the only other people you meet are also avoiding Superbowl parties.

  113. 113
    gratuitous says:

    It will be interesting to me to see what the League does about it. I think the public perception is that this sort of rigging puts the integrity of the game at some risk. Maybe not on a level with pro wrestling, but certainly in line with gymnastics or figure skating. A fine is pretty meaningless, as is the loss of a draft pick (New England isn’t going to be in a position to get Jameis Winston or Marcus Mariota, for example). Suspensions? Outright bans? New England’s past record certainly augurs for a more stringent penalty, and Belichek’s “I mis-interpreted the rules” excuse really shouldn’t have been heard the first time.

    So, what’s it going to be, Commissioner Goodell? You’re in charge here, make a decision. Or do we start calling you Lou (obscure reference to a popular movie)?

  114. 114
    The Ancient Randonneur says:

    What does Giselle say about Tom’s underinflated balls?

  115. 115
    Suffern ACE says:

    @srv: I’ll skip that again, thanks. The grovelling before Bibi will be enough to make me want to puke.

  116. 116
    SRW1 says:

    @Roger Moore:

    My rough and ready conversion is that 1 bar = 10 meters = 15 psi.

    l kind of suspected that the 10 meters were part of your conversion vocabulary. It’s a unit of pressure that figures in introductory physics courses but doesn’t seem to have much practical use otherwise any more. Except presumably for divers.

  117. 117
    JPL says:

    @gratuitous: I’m not sure what the guidelines for punishment are. I’m a Pats fan and if Belichick knew the balls were intentionally deflated, he needs to go. That would be up to the owner,though.

  118. 118
    Amir Khalid says:

    @gratuitous:
    My understanding of “pro wrestlng” is that it’s not an actual sport, but a form of scripted entertainment dressed up as sport for an audience that is well aware of the difference.

  119. 119
    RareSanity says:

    @Violet:

    There are pros and cons to it.

    With American football, you have more “specialized” athletes, which makes for greater displays of skill and athleticism…and the breaks in the action place a higher emphasis, and greater complexity, to the strategy used during the game.

    When you have time between plays to actually consider and/or adjust to want your opponent is doing, you end up with a much more complex “move-counter move” competition.

    Although I do like college football for many reasons, I am more partial to pro football, because the physical and talent differences are so small, that it places such a premium on the strategies used by the teams. In college, usually the team with the better players win.

    Which is what is so pathetic about the Patriots cheating. Their coach, Bill Belichick, may be one of the most brilliant football coaches ever. But, he’s so obsessive, so insecure with his own brilliance, that he still resorts to cheating. He doesn’t need to cheat to win, but he does it anyway.

  120. 120
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @gene108:

    Secondly, there’s a large contingent of people in this country who will feel America is caving into to some strange international conspiracy by using the sissy-French-Metric-System of weights and measures and will fight it tooth and nail.

    Again and again the Venn diagram has an amazing overlap of the people you describe with teatards, racists, and our good friends the 27%.

    My proposal for dealing with this is to gather all these people in one place, that place being where it is predicted that the meteor will impact.

  121. 121

    @D58826:
    I think the main solution is to do away with the idea that each team gets to play with its own balls that are managed by its own ball boy. That’s ripe for this kind of abuse.

    @catclub:

    Should pitchers be allowed to customize the ball to their preference?

    They are allowed to within certain prescribed limits. The pitcher is allowed to rub the ball between his hands to get whatever change in feel he can achieve, and he’s allowed to ask for a new ball if he doesn’t like the feel of the one he has. And the home team actually provides the balls to the umpires, though they’re required to buy a specific model from a single source provider (Rawlings, the last time I checked) and in their original packaging.

    That said, the league fairly recently started requiring teams to store the balls under specified conditions to help ensure uniformity. For most of baseball history, teams just kept the balls wherever, and there were stories about some teams keeping them in cool, damp places because that was supposed to deaden the ball. The Colorado Rockies were quite open about storing their balls in a humidor because they thought the dry air in Colorado caused them to shrink and harden, making Colorado an even more favorable hitting environment than low air pressure alone. I think, though I can’t find a reference, that MLB actually decided that was a good idea and at least recommended that all teams store the balls under defined conditions.

  122. 122
    Paul in KY says:

    The Patriots are cheating scum. Also, they are cheap. Did you see how their cheap uniform colors ran during the rain?

    They were the better team that day, but are just a bunch of sleazoid cheaters.

  123. 123
    Sherparick says:

    It is amazing the arrogance that Belichek and Brady had to think they would get away with this little stunt. Obviously a great coach, but with really dark streak that he apparently can’t say “no” to.

  124. 124
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Amir Khalid: In Washington State the “pro wrestling” organizations actually lobbied to be exempted from the usual regulations applied to other professional sports activities for precisely that reason. That they’re not really a sport at all.

  125. 125
    RareSanity says:

    @Gavin:

    The balls passed the defined test – therefore the Pats didn’t cheat. Black and white.

    You’re right, it’s black and white.

    The rules state that after the balls are inspected and approved by the officials, they ARE NOT supposed to be altered in any way during the course of the game. After the inspection, the balls are supposed to be “frozen” in their post inspection state.

    The Patriots altered the balls from their post inspection state, therefore breaking a written rule…and they did it knowingly, which makes it cheating.

    You can try to rationalize it all you want to, The rules say don’t alter the balls after they have been inspected and approved by the officials. The Patriots did and got caught.

    They cheated, it’s plain and simple…not emotional.

  126. 126
    raven says:

    @RareSanity: But this is really good for us so there is that!

  127. 127
    NonyNony says:

    @Gavin:

    The rules define when the ball is to be measured. Breaking the rules is the definition of cheating. The balls passed the defined test – therefore the Pats didn’t cheat. Black and white.

    Wrong you little cheater. The rules clearly state: “The ball shall be made up of an inflated (12 1/2 to 13 1/2 pounds) urethane bladder”. It does not say “when the measurements are taken”. It says “the ball shall be”.

    If the pressure in the ball falls below 12.5 pounds, then the ball is not a regulation ball.

    If a player or someone else intentionally reduces the pressure of the ball below that 12.5 pound mark, they are turning the ball into a non-regulation ball.

    Intentionally turning a regulation ball into a non-regulation ball is cheating. Period.

    If you’re using weasel words about the rules of measurement to justify altering the ball outside of regulation you are a cheater. Cheater.

  128. 128
    Morzer says:

    @Gavin:

    Clearly the balls in question DIDN’T meet the required standard throughout the game, so to argue that they were fine an hour before it is simply irrelevant. Nor is this a case of one isolated ball – but 11 out of 12. Not much room for coincidence/accidents/freak meteorological conditions there.

  129. 129
    Paul in KY says:

    @RareSanity: Could they have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, if the refs had determined it was done deliberately?

  130. 130
    RareSanity says:

    @raven:

    I have taken to trying to be a bit less cynical for 2015…so I will join you for a glass of the lemonade you have made from life’s lemons. :-)

    Let us go enjoy it on the porch, and watch people as they go by.

  131. 131
    Paul in KY says:

    @Amir Khalid: They swap out the ball as soon as the interception or fumble recovery play is dead.

  132. 132
    Morzer says:

    Apparently some of the Ravens’ players think that balls were under-inflated for their game against the Patriots. I doubt this will end well.

    http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/w.....s-patriots

  133. 133
    Paul in KY says:

    @Amir Khalid: You are certainly correct on pro wrestling.

  134. 134
    Morzer says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I imagine people would pay money to hear the chief zebra announce “Unsportsmanlike conduct. Shrinking one’s own balls.” Heaven knows what the penalty would be though.

  135. 135
    Brutusettu says:

    Can cheating from the start to gain an advantage make things snowball? Hell yeah.

  136. 136
    RareSanity says:

    @Paul in KY:

    I don’t think it would have been an “in-game” penalty.

    The ref would have just thrown out any balls that weren’t in compliance, and force the Patriots to use ones that were. Offenses like this are much too significant to subject to a mere unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

    The refs would want to continue play, and the incident would be reported to the league office for processing.

    If proven, the league will hit the Patriots with far more than a 15 yard penalty. They will definitely be fined heavily, their draft picks will be at risk of being taken away, as well as possible other sanctions…like reducing their salary cap for a number of years, hampering their ability to sign many good (read: expensive) players.

    The last time they got caught cheating (filming another team’s practice) they were fined a six figure amount, and had their first round draft pick taken away.

    They are definitely getting something harsher than a 15 yarder.

  137. 137
    NonyNony says:

    @Morzer:

    But the Ravens are complaining about the kicking balls, which I thought had to be 1) new and 2) not handled by the other team at all. This would be an allegation that the refs who were responsible for the kicking balls had done something to them – or that the Patriots snuck over and tampered with the balls at some point. Neither of which would be similar to the cheating alleged this weekend.

  138. 138
    mak says:

    @RareSanity: from NBC Sports:

    “‘I like to push the limit to how much air we can put in the football, even go over what they allow you to do and see if the officials take air out of it,‘” Simms said Rodgers told them before the game.

  139. 139
    RareSanity says:

    @NonyNony:

    You’re right about the K-balls (the kicking balls have a ‘K’ on them), but if the team’s ball boy is still responsible for throwing a K-ball to the ref, then there is still opportunity for it to be deflated during the game.

    I’m honestly not sure if there is a separate person that handles the K-balls during the game. If there is, the Ravens are howling at the moon. If there isn’t, with what’s some to light about the Pats, they may have something that needs to be looked into.

  140. 140
    Morzer says:

    @NonyNony:

    I don’t see any way for the NFL to come out ahead here. If they let the Patriots off with a slap on the wrist, fans will complain that they can’t know whether they are watching an honest game or not. If they bring the hammer down, well, what happens about the Superbowl? Do the Patriots get to play? Are they disqualified? Is Belichick suspended….

    Some pretty ugly possibilities either way.

  141. 141
    Morzer says:

    Drew Magary, for one, is not going to come quietly:

    http://deadspin.com/the-ballgh.....1680877948

    You knew they were coming, America. The second the Patriots got busted for doctoring footballs, you knew the TAKENAMI would rush in. And VERILY IT HAS COME TO PASS. Oh, people. Oh, this is my Christmas. These takes are so pure in their stridency, so firm in their conviction that ROGER GOODELL MUST ACT… I feel like someone just handed me a bag of pharmaceutical cocaine. This is the uncut shit… straight from the take factory. All these guys saw a hot take sitting right in the middle of a bear trap and wandered directly into it. My nipples are rock hard just looking at all the open browser tabs. Where do we even start? Has Mitch Albom written to his children about this yet? OOOOH, let’s go with Bob Kravitz, who wastes no time in calling for Bill Belichick to be fired…

  142. 142
    Joel says:

    @Morzer: Magary is hilarious. His takedown of CNN’s John Berman is the best part of that piece:

    By the way, somehow Pats fans are handling this even worse. We go now to CNN, because CNN is the official entry point for national stupidity:

    In fact, at this point in my life, I essentially do only three things: 1) Anchor at CNN, 2) help raise twin 7-year-old boys and 3) root for Boston sports teams. And if I am being honest, the one I am best at is No. 3. I am a really good Boston sports fan. There are few better.

    OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE. Even now, Boston fans can’t help but tell you how good they are at being Boston fans. What is wrong with you people?

  143. 143
    RareSanity says:

    @Morzer:

    There will be fines and maybe draft picks taken away, but they would still play in the Super Bowl, and no one would be suspended…at least not until next season, at the earliest.

    The smart thing to do, would be for the NFL to not complete their “investigation” until after the Super Bowl. But with their being 2 weeks instead of one between the games, they may not be able to wait that long. There’s nothing else to talk about in the world of football, for the next week and a half, but the Super Bowl and the Patriots cheating.

    BTW, “Ballghazi” is way better than “Ball-gate”, kudos to Mr. Magary.

  144. 144
    marduk says:

    @RareSanity: Simms specifically quoted him as saying he tried to sneak OVERinflated balls past the refs. And that’s the exact same thing the Patriots are accused of.

  145. 145
    Tree With Water says:

    @schrodinger’s cat: When? When another nuclear engineer is elected president again.

  146. 146
    Joel says:

    @RareSanity:

    like reducing their salary cap for a number of years

    Ironic, given the username.

    That penalty is dumb for a number of reasons, not the least of which would be a violation of the CBA. The most likely punishment is something similar to the Patriots’ last brush with the NFL regulations. A more serious penalty would be something akin to what the Saints faced for putting bounties on opposing players.

    In the latter case, the Saints had the (relative) misfortune of having these shenanigans brought to light during the league’s highly public legal proceedings re: player concussions. Honestly, the bounty stuff was pretty widely practiced throughout the NFL and is often brought up in fond remembrances of times gone by.

  147. 147
    Paul in KY says:

    @Morzer: That would be an epic explanation!

  148. 148
    Heliopause says:

    Did it decide the course of a 45-7 game? Hell no,

    Well, actually, if an unfair advantage allows you to seize a lead — let’s say, for argument’s sake, 17-7 halfway through the game — such that the other team is forced to take more chances, causing a snowball effect…

    But having said that, I’m skeptical that underinflated balls confer a measurable competitive advantage, until somebody crunches some numbers showing this.

    But having said that, If it’s shown that this was deliberate then the punishment will have to be substantial. It would show a fairly stunning disregard for the rules.

  149. 149
    Paul in KY says:

    @RareSanity: I would expect them to get the post-game stuff. Was just wondering if they could also be hit with an in-game penalty as well. A 15 yarder is never good (especially if the game is still close).

  150. 150
    marduk says:

    @RareSanity: There’s no evidence whatsoever that the patriots tampered with the balls during the game. It may turn out that they did, but nobody in the NFL has made that accusation.

  151. 151
    catclub says:

    If the ball is measured at 300K at the start, but then cools to 273k that changes 12.5 psi to 11.37 psi
    by the gas law. If it the same temp both times, then nevermind.

    Also note that Richard Mayhew does say that balls lose air due to being kicked and squashed.

    Countercase- Indianapolis’ balls still (presumably) within spec.

  152. 152
    Comrade Luke says:

    Seahawks fan here. Couple of things.

    Yes, I’m sure everyone cheats. But the Patriots sure seem to get caught more than most. Also, Patriots fans – Bill Simmons in particular – were quick to label us the SeAdderalls after one of our players was found to be using PEDs. It was not the first time he’d been caught, and after this offense he was released by the Seahawks.

    Who was he? Brandon Browner, currently starting for your AFC Champion New England Patriots. Weird that i haven’t heard fuck-all about the Cheathawks from Simmons this year.

    Also, I think Bellichick is a great coach. Top tier. But can we stop referring him to has the second coming of Vince Lombardi?

    Again, as a Seahawks fan, we were relentlessly mocked as we started to get better and win the division, because the division at the time was a joke. How come we never hear about the fact that New England gets to play Buffalo, the Jets, and the Dolphins six times a year, and is therefore halfway to a first-round bye on opening day? The only competition they’ve ever had in their division was the Colts, and when there was a realignment a few years ago, which was the one team that changed divisions? Oh, the Colts – how weird! It’s almost like they wanted Manning & Brady in different divisions so they could be in the playoffs every year.

    Can was all just enjoy watching our teams, while still acknowledging that it’s all a crock of shit?

  153. 153
    catclub says:

    @marduk:

    Also note that Richard Mayhew does say that balls lose air due to being kicked and squashed.
    Is it tampering if they tell the guys to make an effort to beat up the ball in the two hours before the game, cause Brady likes it a little softer?

  154. 154
    Paul in KY says:

    @Joel: I think a suspension of Darth Cheatius would be in order. At least as long as Payton got. Also a whopping fine for the owner.

  155. 155
    Cervantes says:

    @BGinCHI:

    Although if I was Bibi and the Israelis, I’d be careful about getting courted by Boehner and his idiot caucus. That’s a good way to get marginalized.

    Netanyahu is facing an election. This stunt, like his appearance in Paris the other day, should be seen in that context.

    What the Republicans get out of the arrangement is, I think, similarly clear.

  156. 156
    different-church-lady says:

    @Paul in KY:

    The Patriots are cheating scum. Also, they are cheap. Did you see how their cheap uniform colors ran during the rain?

    That was from the paint on the field, not the dye running.

    It’s weird how when something bad happens, there’s always a bunch of people saying things even more stupid about it.

    Personally I feel like I’ve been kicked in the teeth by my own team.

  157. 157
    Violet says:

    @RareSanity: Bellichick is a thug. He wears a hoodie. With the hood up.

  158. 158
    brantl says:

    @catclub: Pitchers do, before every pitch, though there are limits; still you couldn’t have gotten Gaylord Perry to believe that.

  159. 159
    jl says:

    As a few commenters have mentioned, the idea of football people arguing about the hardness of their balls is amusing.

    All I care about right now is, another excuse to root against the Patriots. But I will watch for further news, in case this most recent excuse does not pan out. I have plenty of others.

  160. 160

    As an F1 fan, its pretty clear that ‘cheating’ and ‘taking advantage of oversights in the rules’ are precisely the same thing, word choice only chosen depending on whether you’re looking for an excuse to slam the team or not. Whether creative interpretation of the rules is historically viewed as innovative (who said you could jump over the bar backwards?!) or cheating is a matter of politics more than anything else.

    In the end this seems like serious oversight in the rules. While the balls need to be made available for inspection an hour before the game, is there anything in the rules preventing the Patriots from having Marcus Cannon sit on them for an hour after inspection and before the game, and whatever leaks out under 350lbs of pressure is just normal wear-and-tear? Or perhaps Gronk uses them for spiking practice for that hour?

  161. 161
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    Sorry this is OT but one of my writer friends just got a call from her agent. Egmont USA (the US arm of a British publisher) is folding. All books cancelled. Publishing is a hell hole.

  162. 162
    trollhattan says:

    There are myriad ways to fvck with the visiting team, from shitty locker rooms and showers with no hot water to where the bus parks to the fans themselves to…one’s imagination is the limit. This may have been one more such thing but if it was and is contra league rules, then there could be sanctions. My guess in a Ray Rice world a wrist slap is the most that could be meted out. In any case it will be hard to prove.

    Could it make a difference on a snotty, rainy day? Ask Jermaine Kearse. Could it favor one team over the other? Possibly, if QB A favors less and QB B favors more air pressure, or especially if the balls are somehow scripted WRT when the underinflated ones are on the field (hard to imagine, that last).

    My kid’s soccer coach two seasons ago is some kind of Yoda who can tell a ball’s inflation from the sound it makes when kicked, and has (successfully) asked refs to change out the ball during matches. I gu-ran-tee the center can tell a football’s hand-egg’s pressure at the time of the snap.

  163. 163

    Nothing will happen.

    The Cheatriots bring in way too much money. You guys forgot about that profit-sharing thing with the owners, didn’t you?

  164. 164
    RareSanity says:

    @Joel:

    Ironic, given the username.

    Why don’t you make your point without the personal insults, asshole.

    @marduk:

    Oh bloody hell…really?

    They are investigating it…they have already leaked (through Chris Mortensen) that their investigation is showing that they did it.

    Where exactly do you think Mortensen got the information that he reported? If nothing was going on, were is the “league source” that is saying that the investigation is not showing any evidence of cheating?

    The league leaked the information to Mortensen, so they can gauge what the public’s reaction is going to be to it. Then they can start developing their crisis management plan.

  165. 165
  166. 166
    Tree With Water says:

    @Amber: Agreed. Tempest in a doggone t-cup. The entire trivial episode could have been avoided if “The Shield” (ha-ha) hired one ref per game to control all game day footballs. Which incidentally goes to show how vital other teams consider such control- they don’t, and never have, because it’s no big deal. Why Goodell hasn’t casually said as much, and then announce the creation of one ball ref per game (making crystal clear it’s strictly for propriety’s sake, and not in reaction to nefarious behavior by any team or individuals) — is beyond me.

    The NFL ownerships may have grown fantastically wealthy as a result of mass communication in the newly born digital age, but it appears they’ve never reflected that’s a two edged sword insofar as uninvited scrutiny is concerned.

  167. 167
    Paul in KY says:

    @different-church-lady: OK…I take back the ‘cheap uniforms’ gig.

  168. 168
    Paul in KY says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: Very sorry to hear that. Your friend must be heartbroken. Hopefully someone else can pick up the book?

  169. 169

    @CONGRATULATIONS!: That’ll be the penalty – Patriots are fined their official cut from the playoff game. I think that’s at least $2.5M.

  170. 170
    EthylEster says:

    Late to the thread so maybe this was already covered in the first 160+ comments.

    Ummm, they don’t actually weigh the balls, do they?
    Isn’t it a pressure check?

    PSI is a pressure unit, not a weight.
    I’m confused.
    Somebody, please enlighten me!

    And why isn’t this completely under the control of referees?
    Why is the home team involved in any way?

  171. 171
    different-church-lady says:

    @RareSanity: Look, I think the chances that it was an accident or coincidence are next to none. But what is so hard about saying that rumors are rumors, or that unconfirmed reports are unconfirmed reports?

    If you say, “According to Mortensen’s reporting…” then it doesn’t give anyone the opportunity to pick things apart factually, because you didn’t state it as a fact to begin with. It’s not going to change my view that the odds are overwhelming it was deliberate on the part of the Patriots.

  172. 172
    Iowa Old Lady says:

    @Paul in KY: I hope so. Her agent subbed it a number other places before Egmont bought it, so her options are limited. She had four other books in print, so she’s in better shape than debut authors are. She could self-publish. Still it’s disheartening.

  173. 173
    Mart says:

    @Roger Moore: Little late here. Years ago walking around a steel mill’s rolling mill construction site I noticed some giant ass plates on the base of the mill stands. I ask what the hell is that? The answer – the Siemens rolling mills are German and sized in metric, we kind of screwed up the math…

    Also too, St. Belichick has a player currently on trial for murder. Being from STL, ain’t got much respect for Belichick. A cheating thug in a hoodie. We know the type here.

  174. 174
    marduk says:

    @RareSanity: The fact that the balls were underinflated does not mean or imply that the Patriots tampered with the balls during the game. Nobody has reported that the patriots tampered with the ball during the game. You may want to believe that they did, and it’s possible that they did, but nobody is making that accusation.

  175. 175
    different-church-lady says:

    @Mart:

    Also too, St. Belichick has a player currently on trial for murder.

    Had. He was cut the day he was arrested, IIRC.

  176. 176
    RareSanity says:

    @different-church-lady:

    I understand what you’re saying, I’m just expressing my perspective on it…which is basically the same as yours.

    There’s nothing wrong with calling rumors rumors. It is just my own personal opinion that what Mortensen is reporting, isn’t a rumor…it’s a leak from the NFL.

    That’s all. Other than that extrapolation on my part, we have the exact same view of the subject.

    Mortentsen isn’t just some “sports writer”, he along with Peter King are two of the most well respected NFL writers in the country. Knowing this, it is not a stretch to think that he has actual sources in the league offices, and that if the league wanted to leak something, they would use him or King to do it.

    Because of their credibility, it would be like the league saying it themselves, without them actually saying it.

  177. 177
    Phoebe says:

    The ESPN article has a sidebar link to a podcast talking about the inspection process, and while I haven’t listened to the thing, the blurb for it references an inspection of the game balls during halftime. And I’ve seen similar references elsewhere. Does anyone know whether there was any such halftime inspection? Because if there was, I’m completely baffled. Did the officials check the balls, find them underinflated, but let the game continue with those balls in play? If so, isn’t there an implicit endorsement of in-game deflation by the officiating refs themselves, which would be a clear signal that this is normal and no one considers it cheating?

    All of which suggests to me that there was no such halftime check, but in that case, why the various references to it? Wouldn’t there normally have been a clarification by now?

  178. 178
    trollhattan says:

    @EthylEster:
    Found an article that ‘splains the rules and procedures. Seems the home and visiting team use separate, self-provided ball sets on offense, so there’s a clear delineation between the balls the Patriots and Colts played with.

    Wouldn’t the deflated balls help the Colts too?

    No, because each team has their own balls for use when its offense is on the field.

    Per NFL rules, each team has 12 balls they use on offense. The home team is also required to provide 12 more balls for backup, and visitors can bring 12 backup balls of their own if they so choose. In addition to those balls, Wilson, the company that manufactures NFL footballs, ships eight new balls directly to the officials for a game. Those are the kicking balls used by both teams, and they’re kept under the control of the referees.

  179. 179
    Paul in KY says:

    @Iowa Old Lady: Best of luck to her & all the other authors out there. Especially any BJers!

  180. 180
    Paul in KY says:

    @marduk: I am making that accusation. 11 of 12, and given their track record: J’accuse!

  181. 181
    different-church-lady says:

    @RareSanity:

    There’s nothing wrong with calling rumors rumors. It is just my own personal opinion that what Mortensen is reporting, isn’t a rumor…it’s a leak from the NFL.

    So just say it like that from the get-go and we avoid all the tedious stuff.

    I might be alone in this, but one of the things I always try to be careful about in my day-to-day conversations is to be clear about where I have gotten my information from and how reliable it is. “It’s going to rain” is a different statement from “I’ve got a feeling it’s going to rain,” which is a different statement from “The weather report I saw an hour ago said rain” which is a different statement from “My friend Mary said it’s going to rain.”

    One of the reasons I do this is because in my professional life I know that other people will make decisions and jump to conclusions based on things I say — sometimes even the smallest things. But outside of work I’ve also found that simply framing things with more precision helps avoid frictions and misunderstandings.

    I think the way I’m especially alone in this nowadays is that I like to avoid frictions and misunderstandings. I’m just old fashioned, I guess…

  182. 182
    marduk says:

    @RareSanity:

    Mortentsen isn’t just some “sports writer”, he along with Peter King are two of the most well respected NFL writers in the country.

    I don’t really know Mortentsen but Peter King is not one of the most respected NFL writers in the country. He’s a straight up no-integrity mouthpiece for Goodell and a joke as an analyst to boot.

  183. 183
    RareSanity says:

    @marduk:

    The fact that the balls were underinflated does not mean or imply that the Patriots tampered with the balls during the game.

    This is were you and I differ, I believe that it absolutely was meant to imply that the Patriots tampered with the balls during the game. We can agree to disagree, that’s fine.

    Why?

    Because there is no other logical explanation. They were playing in the Patriots home stadium, so the “home team messed with our balls” angle is gone. The only other possible explanation is that someone (no one knows who), unaffiliated with the Patriots, deliberately let the air out of the Patriots balls, completely unbeknownst to them, because…

    What?

    Why would someone unaffiliated with the organization, but with access to the balls in question, do that? In order for the Patriots to be free of any culpability, the person would have to be completely unaffiliated. If it was an employee, than the “organization” did it, even if they try and sell the “lone wolf” argument.

    How did that unaffiliated person do this, to 11 balls, without being seen by anyone? Don’t you think that someone from the Patriots would think it a bit strange that some unknown person was messing with their balls? Knowing that the balls can’t be tampered with after they have been inspected?

    …and again, what motivation does that person have to do it in the first place?

  184. 184
    RareSanity says:

    @different-church-lady:

    So just say it like that from the get-go and we avoid all the tedious stuff.

    But I did…

    They are investigating it…they have already leaked (through Chris Mortensen) that their investigation is showing that they did it.

  185. 185

    @EthylEster: They do both. Weight of ball and pressure of ball.

    Quick ideal gas equation suggests that the ball would have lost about half a pound of pressure just from going from room temperature to field temperature at start of game and nearly a full pound by end of game. Had it been below freezing it would lose roughly 2 pounds. I’m guessing under-inflated balls on the field are extremely common given how the rules are set up. Look at it this way – if you inflated a ball to maximum allowable pressure indoors, had the officials verify the pressure, and then took it out onto a 10 degree field, you’d be over a pound under-inflated on the field. It’d be impossible to deliver a properly inflated ball on the field under the current rules.

  186. 186
    Richard Mayhew says:

    @catclub: Definately, they lose some air.

    Let’s assume the following scenario.
    Team 1 likes their balls low. They submit 12 balls at the minimal acceptable pressure. No interference at all from acceptance/approval to the start of play. They play their half of offense and the balls consistently lose pressure by a small and minimally variant amount.

    Team 2 likes their balls hard. They submit 12 balls at maximum acceptable pressure. No interference at all from acceptance/approval to the start of play. They play their half of offense and the balls consistently lose pressure by a small and minimally variant amount.

    Under this scenario, I would expect at half time or end of the game for all 12 balls by Team 1 to be under the limits by a small and minimally varying amount while Team 2 would have most if not all of their balls still qualify.

    The questionable thing is the 1 Patriot ball still qualified PLUS the 11 balls being 2 PSI under the limit… once is a coincidence, twice is suspicious, 11 is intent.

  187. 187
    different-church-lady says:

    @RareSanity: No, you connected some dots — dots that are quite logical and reasonable to connect (and that I agree you are connecting correctly). But you attributed the conclusion of that dot connecting to the NFL, rather than your own opinion.

  188. 188
    RareSanity says:

    @marduk:

    Peter King is not one of the most respected NFL writers in the country.

    That’s a ridiculous statement. You may not like him, but that doesn’t translate to him not being respected. You cannot find me any other respected NFL writer (or respected sports writer in general), that shares your opinion of Peter King.

    He’s a straight up no-integrity mouthpiece for Goodell

    Which makes him and Mortensen the exact type of people they would go to if they wanted to leak information. You’re just proving my point.

  189. 189
    Jim, Foolish Literalist says:

    as a true political junkie: Will Willard be in Kraft’s box for the Superbowl? if not, would he have been otherwise? Does anyone think Willard could tell you with certainty if a safety plays offense or defense?

    “I thoroughly enjoy a great match of football of course, and of course Tom Brady is my favorite quartered back. I’m looking forward to seeing him commit many scores and sacks today against the… the… the Ospreys! And those cheerleaders. Hey hey. Don’t tell Ann. Ha ha ha. I’m now going to ask Shagg to help me prepare a platter of nacho chips to enjoy this great tournament with, like all the Joe Nachos around.. all the Joe and Jane Nachos all around this great land today. And of course our great troops, too many of whom are watching this game at home today. Tally ho, Patriots!”

  190. 190
    marduk says:

    @RareSanity: But of course that isn’t the only other explanation. The set of other explanations is well neigh infinite. The Patriots could have inflated the balls for the initial inspection with hot air, or kept the balls very cold before inflating. Play could have caused the balls to deflate. Weather conditions could have caused the pressure to drop if the balls were inflated indoors. The refs could have failed to perform the initial inspection properly. Or maybe the refs and the patriots colluded together! Conspiracy! Space aliens could have beamed some of the air out of the balls with transporter technology!

    Were the colt’s balls checked? Did they match the Pats balls or were they different?

    You have no idea, you’re just leaping to conclusions.

  191. 191
    marduk says:

    @RareSanity: http://deadspin.com/the-defere.....-867071583
    http://awfulannouncing.com/201.....-king.html
    http://deadspin.com/5763588/on.....nt-stooges

    But he’s great if you just preface every one of his columns with “Here’s what Roger Goodell’s PR folk want me to tell you this week:”

  192. 192
    Paul in KY says:

    @Jim, Foolish Literalist: Did you hack his notepad?

  193. 193
    Larv says:

    @marduk:

    The Patriots could have inflated the balls for the initial inspection with hot air, or kept the balls very cold before inflating.

    Anyone got a link to the exact procedure for checking the pressure, both before and after the game? I can’t remember where, but I thought I read that the procedure was to do a pressure check pre-game, and then to weigh the ball. Post-game check is then of the weight of the ball. If so, the temperature fluctuations would be irrelevant. The pressure would change, but not the weight. The only way to lose weight is to lose air. Or am I missing something?

  194. 194

    @🚸 Martin:

    Quick ideal gas equation suggests that the ball would have lost about half a pound of pressure just from going from room temperature to field temperature at start of game and nearly a full pound by end of game.

    Only if you assume constant volume. The bladder inside the ball actually expands a bit when you pressurize it, which reduces the change in pressure with temperature. That’s also part of the reason an underinflated ball is easier to grip. It also assumes that teams aren’t using ball warmers, which as far as I can tell they normally do.

  195. 195
    trollhattan says:

    @Larv:
    My hunch on the weigh-in is to check for manufacturing variation, removing any ball that is outside the allowable weight. Weight of the contained air is pretty negligible. As to opportunity to alter the pressure during the game, the standard procedures definitely leave the door open. Only the kicking balls remain in control of the refs at all time.

  196. 196
    RareSanity says:

    @marduk:

    The set of other explanations is well neigh infinite.

    I said logical explanation. If we want to just make up stories, then what’s the point of even attempting to have a rational discussion?

    The Patriots could have inflated the balls for the initial inspection with hot air

    Then all they would need to do is produce this “hot-air inflation machine, then demonstrate that using it, combine with the sustained temperatures of the first half, would cause 11 or 12 balls to lose between 1 and 2lbs of pressure…easy peasy.

    or kept the balls very cold before inflating.

    Well, see then they would have to explain why they kept the balls so cold, for any other reason, than them being under-inflated when they warmed up after inflation. Because if they kept them cold specifically because they knew it would result in a under-inflated ball, that still a rule violation and cheating. They are conspiring to change the state of the ball after it has been inspected and approved. The method used is irrelevant.

    Were the colt’s balls checked? Did they match the Pats balls or were they different?

    I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that the Colts reported the issue before halftime, and at the very least, the Patriots balls where checked then. I can only assume that once they discover that 11 of 12 of the Patriots balls were under-inflated, that they then asked to check the Colts balls as well.

    If you think that may be a stretch, I ‘ll give you this one…if I’m the Patriots and this is discovered…I’m demanding that the Colts balls also be checked, if they hadn’t already. That is, unless I know that their balls are going to check out, then I don’t want them checked, because it makes me look more guilty.

    The point is that it is reported (for you church-lady *smile*) that 11 of the Patriots balls where 1-2lbs under-inflated. That is a violation of the rule.

    You have no idea, you’re just leaping to conclusions.

    And you are using misdirection and nonsense to attempt to introduce the proverbial “shadow of doubt” into the situation.

    You are free to believe whatever it is that you want to.

  197. 197
    danielx says:

    Semi-serious Colts fan, but….Patriots could have used footballs made of concrete and the Colts still would have gotten their asses handed to them. The Patriots were a (lot) better team on Sunday evening and although Andrew Luck is going to be a great quarterback, he’s not one yet, nor does he have a supporting cast like Brady’s.

    That being said, Belichek’s rule has always been to do whatever it takes to gain even the slightest edge, and to do it for as long a he can get away with it. If he thought there were going to be any serious repercussions from this, he wouldn’t have done it – cheating sonofabitch he may be, but he’s a long way from stupid. The NFL is not going to reverse the results of the game or keep the Pats out of the Super Bowl nor will Belichek be suspended for the Super Bowl, or so would be my guess, no matter how much howling is emitted by Colts fans or sportwriters. At worst, once the season is over, Belichek may have to pay a fine and/or get rid of an underling, followed by writing “I won’t do that again” a hundred times on a chalkboard, none of which is going to cause him to lose any sleep. If he has to cough up a half mil fine like he did after the 2007 season, I’m sure Kraft will find some way to assuage his grief and loss…”Bill, ol’ buddy, don’t do that again. Now, I’ve got a set of keys here for this new Ferrari F12 Berlinetta round back of the building, why don’t you do see how it drives?”

  198. 198
    marduk says:

    @RareSanity: Unlike you, I’m waiting to see what the league actually alleges instead of making up one interpretation and sticking with it come hell or high water. I don’t know why you bothered addressing my hypotheticals since they have no more evidentiary basis than your own, but here’s some more: The Pats use a dull and rusty needle when inflating the balls during the practice period so the seal will be weaker and the ball will lose pressure during the game. The Pats’ ball boy is morbidly obese and they have him sit on the balls when they aren’t in play. The balls let out a sigh every time Tom Terrific caresses them with his dreamy hands.

  199. 199
    danielx says:

    And yup, I spelled Belichick’s name wrong throughout that rant. Woe is me.

  200. 200
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @marduk:

    Were the colt’s balls checked? Did they match the Pats balls or were they different?

    This is the $24,000 question. If the Colts’ balls were checked after the game and they did not show significant changes in pressure from the pre-game check, then the tampering charges would have some weight. If the Colts’ balls were checked and showed similar changes in pressure as the Pats’ balls, then it could be explained by changes in temperature and game play. If the Colts’ balls weren’t checked at all, then there’s no basis for making a claim one way or another.

    Sure, you could always try to replicate the conditions yourself – get several balls, inflate them to spec, subject them to the same temperature and play conditions for a couple of hours, check pressure afterwards. Then you could at least say “these changes could or could not happen during regular play”. Still won’t say boo to the specific charge, but you’d at least have some data to compare against.

  201. 201
    Goblue72 says:

    Presumably as the deflated balls were found before halftime, the balls in the second half were fully inflated. Score before halftime – 17-7. Scoring after the half – 28-0.

    Colts shoulda left the balls deflated.

  202. 202
    RareSanity says:

    @marduk:

    You can act like you don’t have an opinion one way or the other right now, but you do. You choosing not to share it, doesn’t equate to you not having one.

    By the same token, me choosing to share mine, doesn’t make me any more partial than you.

    I don’t have a problem admitting that an opinion I had today was wrong, based on information learned tomorrow…if the new information warrants it.

  203. 203
    RareSanity says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey:

    I have a hard time believing that once the NFL officials discovered so many of the Patriots balls were under-inflated, that they didn’t immediately also check the Colts balls.

    Especially since the Colts are the ones that brought it issue to their attention.

  204. 204
    Randy Khan says:

    @RareSanity: @Roger Moore:

    The possibility that the balls may need some treatment before they’re usable doesn’t really affect the question of whether the teams should do it or not or the question of whether they should supply the balls to the officials. In MLB, for many years, one of the pre-game rituals for the umpires was rubbing the clean, unused balls with mud (mud from a very specific place, shipped to the ballparks for just that purpose); nowadays, apparently, it’s done by the umpire’s room attendants, but in any event the umpires check the balls before they’re used (and, as anyone who’s watched a game knows, they check them constantly during play, too). MLB also requires balls to be in their original packaging before they’re rubbed with the mud, and in recent years has adopted specific requirements for how they’re supposed to be stored.

    As for the point about customizing equipment, it’s certainly common to customize an individual player’s equipment – a glove, a bat, a hockey stick – but I can’t think of another sport where the teams are permitted to customize something that’s used by all players in the game. (And lest we forget, defenses are as interested in the ball as offenses – count the number of times in a game when a defensive player tries to knock the ball out of the offensive player’s hands.) I don’t think that pitchers rubbing the ball during the game really counts for much, particularly since balls are changed out constantly. In truth, the cover of the ball probably is much harder than the pitcher’s skin, so the likely impact of rubbing it likely is psychological, not physical.

  205. 205
    marduk says:

    @RareSanity: I don’t have an opinion one way or the other about whether the pats altered the balls during the game because I HAVE NO IDEA if they did or not.

    If they did alter the balls during the game I think they should be fined.

    If they did something legal but tricky to make the balls have lower pressure I think they should be lauded.

    If nobody knows why the balls have lower pressure I think we’re all wasting a lot of time over nothing.

  206. 206
    Nied says:

    I really like that Deadspin started calling this “Ballghazi” because it’s about the perfect metaphor for a lot of the accusations that start flying around. It’s all WE KNOW THEY WERE CHEATING BECAUSE SPYGATE (which most people don’t realize was less about taping signals than where they were taped from, had Belichick used a telephoto lens to tape from the review booth he’d be totally kosher). AND THE TIME THEY TAPED THE RAMS PRACTICE (except they didn’t, the original paper that reported this had to retract their story, and the NFL investigated the issue and cleared the Pats as well) AND ALSO THE TUCK RULE (which while I admit was vexing was properly called according to the rules at the time). Most of the stuff I mentioned in the parenthesis doesn’t get reported to 90% of the country because sports reporting (especially local sports reporting) is filled with so much self-reinforcing boosterism that it’d make Fox news blush. So you end up with everyone in the country in 32 different little epistemic enclosures screaming about BILL BELICHEAT BECAUSE OF LOISLEARNERBENGHAZIFASTANDFURIOUSACORNBILLAYERSSAULALYNSKY!!!!!!!11one when the vast majority of the stuff they’re screaming about isn’t true but it’s reinforced by all the other stuff that’s also not true.

  207. 207
    the Conster says:

    @danielx:

    I watched the game again last night on NFL Replay in the context of ballgate, and man, the Colts looked even worse than they did on Sunday, if that’s even possible. They couldn’t do anything on either side of the ball. Luck could have had any ball he wanted, legal or illegal, and still wouldn’t have found anyone to catch it, the coverage was that good. The last time I checked defensive back coverage doesn’t have anything to do with psi. If the Colts ever want to compete at the highest level, they need to get out of that damn bubble they play in, but maybe they don’t want to since it’s known that they pump it with noise and overheat it to increase their advantage.

  208. 208

    @Randy Khan:

    but I can’t think of another sport where the teams are permitted to customize something that’s used by all players in the game.

    Hell, baseball everything is customized including the size and shape of the field.

  209. 209
    RareSanity says:

    @Randy Khan:

    It’s different for MLB though, the actual surface of the ball can be used to gain an advantage for breaking balls in pitching.

    The actual surface of a football, assuming no artificial substances are applied, does not have the same type of effect..the inflation of the ball does.

    The NFL balls are all the same model, from the same manufacturer. So the rule is that as long as you do not alter the shape, introduce any artificial coverings, and they are properly inflated, you can “break them in” however you choose.

    The trick to this is also how the ball is used during gameplay. If a pitcher uses Vaseline to make the surface slicker, that only gives him an advantage. If a football is made slicker, it disadvantages the offense. If the ball is made tackier (through none artificial means), you are probably receiving a slight advantage, but not to the same degree that pitcher would by doctoring the ball.

    A receiver still has to actually catch the ball in football, a doctored baseball could make a major league pitcher damn near unhittable (sp?).

  210. 210
    geg6 says:

    @different-church-lady:

    Personally I feel like I’ve been kicked in the teeth by my own team.

    If you’re a Pats fan, you have been. But it’s not the first time, so why the surprise?

  211. 211
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    How embarrassing for Patriots and their fans. I was mortified when the Ray Rice thing happened but it never occurred to me to defend Ray Rice – or the organization’s handling of said. In fact, I was quite vocal that he be cut even though I have complaints regarding workplaces increasingly having too much control over worker’s lives. Now, I know a lack of ethics isn’t specific to one team or their fan base, but the history here isn’t pretty. If you believe otherwise respectable people like Doug Flutie, the stuff the league pushed under the rug the first time was pretty bad. And here we are again.

  212. 212
    geg6 says:

    @marduk:

    Oh, fer chrissakes, give it up. How, exactly, do you explain that 11 of 12 balls were found to be under-inflated? The odds of this are incredible. And if they passed muster before the game, then whatever happened to take the air out of them had to have happened during the game. When the balls were under the control of the Pats equipment people.

    And then we have the Pats’ track record to look at when considering whether it’s possible that all 11 of those balls spontaneously lost their air or whether the Pats cheated. Probability says the latter.

  213. 213
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @RareSanity

    I have a hard time believing that once the NFL officials discovered so many of the Patriots balls were under-inflated, that they didn’t immediately also check the Colts balls.

    Until an NFL official makes a statement to that effect, we can only speculate.

    Me, I have a fairly easy time believing that they would have only bothered to verify that the Pats’ balls were underinflated without checking the Colts’ balls (did any of the Pats complain about the feel of the Colts’ balls? GOD I LOVE THIS THREAD). But again, until someone makes a statement, we can’t know either way.

  214. 214
    RareSanity says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    Wow, I just Googled Doug Flutie and Spygate…I had no idea about the depth of the allegations.

    I mean I’m an NFL fan, and remember when Spygate hit…but I think I was satisfied with the fact that they were caught and punished, and moved on. I never looked at the in-depth analysis on it.

    Holy crap…now I understand why people were so adamant about saying that they hadn’t won a Super Bowl since Spygate.

  215. 215
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @geg6:

    The odds of this are incredible.

    And how did you compute those odds?

  216. 216
    geg6 says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey:

    1:11

    One correctly inflated ball: 11 incorrectly.

    Not the best of odds. I wouldn’t bet on that horse.

  217. 217
    RareSanity says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey:

    No, you’re right, we can’t know for sure.

    But as I said in another comment, if I’m the Patriots and I think I’m innocent, even if the officials don’t mention it, I’m demanding that the Colts balls are checked too (heh).

    Because if I’ve done nothing wrong, I’m sure that the same phenomenon has occurred to their balls as well. So I want to put this thing to bed as quickly as possible.

    The only reason I can think that the officials wouldn’t have checked the Colts balls, is that they knew they didn’t properly inspect the balls before the game, and they were trying to cover up their mistake.

    I guess that’s possible, but I would think that if this were true, the NFL would already be dangling the officials as sacrificial lambs, not backing up their story that the pre-game check was performed properly.

    As a matter of fact, blaming it on the officials would have been the absolute easiest way for the NFL to make this go away. The fact that their not, is what signals to me, that there’s something bigger afoot.

  218. 218
    Randy Khan says:

    @🚸 Martin: But the field is the same for both teams, and even then MLB has rules about what the field can look like and must approve any significant changes before they’re made; in the NFL, each team gets its own balls.

  219. 219
    different-church-lady says:

    @geg6: Because unlike others, I actually take things one instance at a time.

    “Spygate” was incredibly overblown. And it got used as an excuse to pile on everything. Anything anyone wanted to say would stick in a greasy way. Sure, it would slide off, but you could just pick it back up and stick it back on over and over and over again.

    Supposedly there is this incredible catalog of cheating, but before now there was nothing in that catalog other than Spygate.

    This, on the other hand, could constitute a genuine in-game advantage, and is a lot more fundamental.

    Basically what you’re saying here is that because Bill Clinton diddled with Monica, we ought to take the allegations that Hillary had something to do with Vince Foster’s death seriously.

  220. 220
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @RareSanity: There’s a book detailing the whole scam and cover-up.

    Again, if anyone should be angry as hell, it’s Patriots fans. The whole Kraft-Belichick era should include an asterisk in the historical record.

  221. 221
    different-church-lady says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Do the Saints get an asterisk for the Bounty scandal?

  222. 222
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @different-church-lady: Sure, do you also want Belichick to be suspended for a year?

  223. 223
    different-church-lady says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Do you want to equate deliberate injury of opposing players with camera positions?

  224. 224
    Grumpy Code Monkey says:

    @geg6:

    Let’s try this again:

    What are the odds that a properly inflated football would be significantly underinflated by halftime, given the conditions of the game? Do we have any kind of a database showing ball pressures before, during, and after a game? With data about game conditions (indoors, outdoors, temperature, humidity, average weight of the offensive line, etc.)?

    My point is, without that kind of data, you can’t say dick about odds. FWIW, I would not expect 11 balls to lose 2 psi in the course of one half of normal gameplay, even in low temperatures. But I could be wrong.

    Please note that I don’t have a dog in this fight, being neither a Pats nor a Colts fan. I haven’t given a crap about pro football since Jerry Jones bought the Cowboys. Hell, for all I know the Pats are exactly the cheaters everyone claims they are. I just don’t think anyone can prove it, at least not in this case, at least not yet.

  225. 225
    Nied says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Dude there’s also a book detailing the whole cover up of Obama being born in Kenya. It has roughly the same credibility as yours. The Wikipedia article on spygate is better sourced than that trash! (Actually the spygate article is one of the rare ones that seems to be pretty well done with first order sources).

  226. 226
    hilts says:

    Roger Goodell needs to show some guts by banning Bill Bellicheat from the Super Bowl and suspending him for all of next season.

  227. 227
    Randy Khan says:

    @RareSanity: I don’t think your analysis about the difference between baseballs and footballs is right. There are plenty of things you could do to a football to make it more or less advantageous for particular purposes – a rougher ball presumably is easier to catch, for instance, or you could make it more symmetrical by shaving down parts of the ball that are tiny bit out of round when it’s inflated (tricky, but doable), which would make it easier to throw an accurate pass. (This sounds like it shouldn’t be allowed, but the only rule I’ve found on the balls literally says nothing about what can be done to the ball outside of saying it must be “without corrugations.”) Heck, even the inflation rule allows teams to choose whether to inflate to the top of the range or the bottom of the range.

    Equally important, what you say about footballs also is true of baseballs – they are made to pretty exacting specifications by a single manufacturer and shipped directly to the ballparks, and they require preparation to be game ready. MLB (like the NHL, which keeps game-ready pucks in a little cooler in the penalty box area and swaps them out periodically) thinks that everyone should play with the same ball, or as near to the same ball as it can manage; the NFL thinks it’s okay not just for teams to have different balls, but even leaves those balls in the teams’ custody during the game.

  228. 228
    different-church-lady says:

    @Grumpy Code Monkey: Before I respond, I need to be absolutely clear that I feel the Pats are guilty of some kind of hanky panky here.

    However — people seem to be missing something fundamentally logical regarding the number of footballs: if (and, again, I doubt that it’s likely) some freak atmospheric condition could cause a football to lose 2 pounds of pressure, then yes, I would expect all the footballs to behave the same way.

  229. 229
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @different-church-lady: So no, then?

  230. 230
    different-church-lady says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Let’s put it this way: if it came to the point that Goodell said he was suspending Belichick for the Super Bowl, I would nod and say “asshole had it coming.”

    Now you answer my question.

  231. 231
    Mike E says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead: Iggles fan here…it seems the Pats pull out all the stops, including the valves on footballs (by rule, the ball can have a 1 pound variance in pressure and these “Brady balls” came in 2 lbs under that).

    I hope the Sea Chickens stomp ’em!

  232. 232
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @hilts: This will happen as soon as my coronation as Tsar of all the Russias takes place.

    Not going to hold my breath.

  233. 233
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @geg6:

    The odds of this are incredible.

    What controls are you using in your lab?

  234. 234
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @danielx: The correct spelling is “Belicheat”

  235. 235
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mike E: The Seahawks are on a roll right now, and the real Super Bowl was played in Seattle with the Packers, just as the real Superbowl last year was played in Seattle with the 49ers.

    The Broncos were supposed to be so powerful last year, and the Seahawks proceeded to begin the rout 12 seconds into the game.

  236. 236
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @different-church-lady: I would say cheating is worse than deliberately trying to hurt another player. The league has gotten better at identifying and penalizing over-the-top violence in the game. Every cheap shot Hines Ward and James Harrison took, for instance, was caught on camera and reviewed. Every player in the league knew these two players were cheap shot artists. The league penalized them plenty. You can’t deliberately hurt another player in secret and if the league doesn’t do anything about it, the players will themselves.

    Cheating, on the other hand, is the silent killer. It undermines the integrity of the game. We’re supposed to suspend belief and imagine that Bill Belichick, who flamed out in Cleveland with a 37-45 head coaching record and Brady, an All Big Ten Conference Honorable Mention six round draft pick can compile this simply amazing and unparalleled string of wins that completely and totally had nothing to do with cheating for years, even though they were caught cheating and had been doing it for years. With this latest revelation, everything the Patriots organization has done merits an asterisk. You looking for some way to make a Not As Bad As argument doesn’t change this. Again, it’s Patriots fans that need to hold the Patriots organization accountable. Let them know it’s better to lose with honor than cheat to win. But, of course, hardly any of you think that.

  237. 237
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mike E:

    by rule, the ball can have a 1 pound variance in pressure and these “Brady balls” came in 2 lbs under that

    The footballs were tested pregame, and they passed muster. At halftime- approximately two hours later, assuming that the balls are tested at least a half an hour before kickoff- they did not. Without the smoking gun, there are a number of reasons, all discussed up-thread, that the balls could lose pressure in that span of time.

  238. 238
    ascap_scab says:

    So what you’re saying is – #TomBradyHasSaggyBalls

    Quick, somebody ask Gisele.

  239. 239
    Heliopause says:

    I’d like to make a few general points.

    First, to reiterate, I am skeptical that the deflated balls conferred a measurable advantage.

    Second, if in fact it does confer an advantage then we really need to stop spouting this nonsense about “it doesn’t matter in the case of the Colts-Patriots game.” If you have a small but measurable unfair advantage from the start of a football game the advantage can accumulate over time to the point that the other team is forced to take unwise chances, its players are discouraged, and so on. So please stop with the “Patriots would have won anyway because scoreboard.” It’s primitive thinking.

    Third, even assuming “Patriots would have won anyway because scoreboard,” what makes anyone think they first thought up this little trick just four days ago? What about the week before against the Ravens? What if they’ve been doing this all year? For years?

    Fourth, I reiterate the first point above, but add that if this was done deliberately there nevertheless needs to be a serious punishment for such a flagrant disregard for the rules. And no, that wouldn’t include anything silly like replaying the AFC Championship game.

  240. 240
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Heliopause:

    Do the footballs get pressure tested at halftime of every game?

  241. 241
  242. 242
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    @Mike E:

    I hope its the one supported by cold, hard facts rather than suppositions and gut instinct.

  243. 243
    Gavin says:

    @RareSanity:

    Dude, you’re completely wrong.

    The rules say no such thing.

    Below is the link to the text of the rules – from NFL.com

    http://static.nfl.com/static/c.....3_Ball.pdf

    The balls passed the test, and were playable.

    Everything else is PROJECTION.

    Should the rules be more specific? Perhaps, if the competition committee deems them to be so. But I will only agree that they actually “want” more rules applied to the ball… when those rules exist.

    Did the Patriots cheat? NO, THEY DID NOT.

    “The Referee shall be the sole judge as to whether all balls offered for play comply with these specifications.” — and the referee, during the game, judged them to comply. Therefore, the Patriots complied with the rules.

    I am absolutely not a fan of the Patriots, but they broke no rules. They broke unwritten codes of conduct — which is called gamesmanship, not cheating.

  244. 244
    smintheus says:

    @Jager: Yes, the refs re-inflated the balls at half time. No word so far what the inflation was after the end of the game.

  245. 245
    different-church-lady says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    I would say cheating is worse than deliberately trying to hurt another player.

    Well then we’re just going to have to disagree.

  246. 246
    different-church-lady says:

    @smintheus:

    the refs re-inflated the balls at half time.

    Source?

  247. 247
    Gavin says:

    @Gavin:

    And:

    Just because you found someone who typed out their interpretation.. doesn’t make it a rule/fact/gospel.

    NFL.com is the rules.
    Everything else is an ever-changing process.

    The Pats didn’t cheat – to cheat, you have to be in violation of a rule.

  248. 248
    smintheus says:

    @different-church-lady: Source is ESPN:

    ESPN Sports Radio 810 in Kansas City reported that the Patriots’ footballs were tested at the half, reinflated at that time when they were found to be low, then put back in play for the second half, and then tested again after the game. The report did not reveal the results of the test following the game. All of the balls the Colts used met standards, according to the report.

  249. 249
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    Funny.

  250. 250
    smintheus says:

    My take on this is that Kraft is friends with Rush Limbaugh, and that’s all I need to know about the Pats.

  251. 251
    different-church-lady says:

    @smintheus: Saying that report is true… and saying that the Pats deliberately underinflated or deflated… then (a) the Pats are idiots because they CRUSHED the Colts in the second half using footballs up to spec, and (b) any penalty incurred ought to be that they’re forced to play with under-inflated footballs at the Super Bowl.

  252. 252
    Heliopause says:

    To add another point, if the deflated ball provides an advantage in that it is easier to grip then we would expect that to manifest itself in other ways besides just the quarterback’s throws. We would expect that the team, assuming they were doing it all year, would fumble and drop passes less frequently. To throw a little fuel on the fire (and to reiterate that I am skeptical), the Patriots had the second fewest number of fumbles and sixth lowest dropped-pass rate in 2014. That they were using a cheat ball would not be my first guess at explaining this, but if they were using a cheat ball and it did confer an advantage then I would want to look at the whole set of games in which it occurred, not just one half of football.

  253. 253
    smintheus says:

    @different-church-lady: Maybe that’s the penalty they’re hoping the NFL will impose. Eleven-dimensional chess.

    Or maybe like Rushbo they’ll insist it wasn’t cheating, it was satire.

  254. 254
    different-church-lady says:

    @Heliopause: This whole thing is starting to sound like a great episode for Mythbusters.

  255. 255
    Robert M. says:

    @marduk: This is what I’m struggling with.

    On the one hand, Yankees of football etc. On the other hand, there’s no counterfactual here: the Patriot’s game balls were the appropriate weight (hopefully not pressure) 135 minutes pre-game, and post-game 11 of them were underweight.

    Correlation doesn’t imply causation unless you’re able to rule out plausible competing hypotheses. How did the NFL do that, if they did? What does normal use do to a football? If a Colts DE could tell the difference after a single play, why couldn’t the referees who handled the footballs regularly throughout the game?

    I have no skin in this game, because I’m relatively uninterested in pro football. But as a scientist it looks like a really sloppy inquiry to me, and it seems to me that the appropriate response is not to fine the Patriots but to tighten up the rules about game balls: every one should be weighed before the game, at halftime, and after the game.

  256. 256
    EthylEster says:

    @different-church-lady wrote:

    I might be alone in this, but one of the things I always try to be careful about in my day-to-day conversations is to be clear about where I have gotten my information from and how reliable it is.

    Oh, that’s so quaint….you’re not alone, just really rare.

    Nowadays most people just say whatever comes into their mind…several times, vehemently.
    And then attack verbally whoever screws up the courage to say “I don’t think so”.

  257. 257
    the Conster says:

    @Robert M.:

    Full disclosure: I’m a HUGE Pats fan, but, I’m willing to go where the facts lead. The Hoodie exploits every single loophole and he’s ruthless, which is what you want from your own coach if you’re a huge football fan. All that said, every single team tries to create an advantage, but they get away with it unless they’re TOTALLY egregious – like a bounty on players. Indy pumps noise into their dome when the other team has the ball. If anyone thinks that the Patriots have cheated their way to the success they’ve had, then they’re blinded by hatred. Nothing about this is egregious or new, and there’s no way to prove that other teams are doing what The Hoodie does, because of the blind hatred for The Hoodie and his ability to coach up a bunch of nobodies year after year. It’s kind of fun to watch.

  258. 258
    the Conster says:

    @the Conster:

    Also, Bill Polian got the rules changed to benefit Peyton Manning year after year, but yet that’s OK because Peyton Manning needed to beat the Patriots. How’d that work out.

  259. 259
    Daniel Storms says:

    In the first place, who gives a fuck about a football game?
    In the second place, this all seems to be based on one ESPN report, without independent verification.
    In the third place, who gives a fuck in the first place?

  260. 260
  261. 261
    Edmund Dantes says:

    Simple. If this is so egregious, give the Patriots the same penalty the last time some team altered balls during a game.

    They, of course, did it on live TV in front of millions of viewers. It was plain to see to everyone what they were doing. It was explicitly against the rules.

    Any guesses as to the penalty? Nothing. Vikings Panthers game. Cold game and they were deliberately heating balls on sidelines. Against the same rule as this one everyone wants to kill Pats for violating.

    Also Mort and King were both burned by their NFL sources on the Ray Rice case that the NFL had seen the video before they suspended Ray rice. They both retracted and said they had been misled. Their integrity is not above reproach when it comes to their reporting.

  262. 262
  263. 263
    the Conster says:

    Brady going to 6 Super Bowls:

    THAT’S NOT A THING THAT HAPPENS AND I REFUSE TO ACCEPT THE TRUE CRAPPINESS OF MY OWN FOOTBALL TEAM, SO THEY ARE CHEATERS AND LIARS! WHO DEFLATE BALLS, OK?!

  264. 264
    Gavin says:

    The NFL should impose the same fine that they did the last time this rule was violated

    Any guesses what that fine was? Cole?

    Give your cat a treat if you said.. Nothing. The NFL did precisely zip.

  265. 265
    Paul in KY says:

    @different-church-lady: They should. That was as bad as Spygate, IMO.

  266. 266
    Jado says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Cheating USED to be that serious. I expect minimal, if any, repercussions. The slog thru the courts would kill the game.

    Look at the NCAA after the JoePa incident – they get no credit for harsh, fast sanctions, only criticism for overreach and hubris. The NFL commissioner & administration don’t have the stones for a protracted fight against an owner, and the other owners don’t want the focus to shine too much on them, and what they do for their billions.

    They only way anything happens is if Kraft tells the NFL to do whatever they want and he won’t protest, and then fires Belicheat. Never happen.

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