The legacy of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is fraying at the edges over this new scandal, and it could cost the team in 2015.
Several questions in the Deflategate controversy over balls being under-inflated in the New England Patriots’ AFC title win have reportedly been answered.
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ProFootballTalk.com reported from their sources that NFL referees had checked the balls two-and-a-half hours prior to the game and found no problems with them. In other words, the balls had between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure before being given over to members of the Patriots ball-handling staff (insert chuckle).
But the same sources indicated that a two-pound difference PSI deflation would not immediately be noticeable to officials during the game itself.
NFL game balls are required to be inflated with 12.5 to 13.5 pounds of air and weigh 14 to 15 ounces. Each team provides balls each game for use when its offense is on the field. The balls are inspected before the game by the officiating crew, but are then handled during the game by personnel provided by the home team – in this case, the Patriots.
The NFL officials reportedly tested the balls at halftime and determined that 11 of the 12 balls were two pounds under-inflated.
The conclusion from this report is that the balls were properly inflated when they first left the hands of NFL officials, that the officials would not have immediately noticed the changes during the game, and that the NFL found out the balls were under-inflated at halftime.
This isn’t the first time the Patriots have been investigated for cheating. In 2007 the Patriots were disciplined for videotaping New York Jets coaching signals on the sidelines – a violation of NFL rules – as a result, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fined Bill Belichick $500,000, fined the Patriots organization $250,000 and docked them their 2008 1st-round draft pick.
While it is easy to conclude that the deflated balls did not give the Patriots an overwhelming advantage in their AFC Championship win, it is yet another cheating-related blemish on a team that frequently finds itself on the receiving end of trouble.