Football: Inflated Urethane Bladder In A Leather Case


“More probable than not [New England cheated]”:


That’s how the NFL Rules describe a football.  The bladder contains air, which the rules state must be between prescribed pounds-per-square-inch limits.  Those are the rules.

The NFL reportedly found that the New England Patriots did not play with properly-inflated footballs during their blowout 45-7 win over Indianapolis last weekend (aka “Deflategate”).  In the second quarter, Indianapolis linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted a Tom Brady pass–and apparently thought the ball felt funny.

He gave the ball to an Indy equipment guy, who told Indy Coach Pagano, who told Indy’s General Manager, who told an NFL official, who told the on-field officials, who then inspected New England’s footballs at halftime.  End of story–until the NFL penalizes New England somehow (probably a monetary fine and perhaps the loss of a draft choice if the League considers the alleged cheating egregious).

To some, the alleged cheating’s effect on the game’s outcome is a non-starter .  New England blew out the Colts, so what could a couple of pounds of air pressure mean in a one-sided game?

To others, the story is all about the air pressure.  They say that football is a game of momentum that can break the other team’s will to win.  If you do that, you steamroll the opponent.  If New England cheated (which apparently they did), and that cheating resulted in the proverbial snowball rolling downhill, a couple of pounds of air pressure meant virtually everything.

The officials rectified the problem at halftime, when the score was 17-7 in favor of New England, who then scored 21 unanswered points in the 3rd quarter with the properly-inflated balls.

In my mind, that makes the issue a non-starter as to the ultimate outcome of the game.  But rules are rules, and a penalty appears warranted at some point.

I can’t wait to see what New England tries next …


4 Comments on “Football: Inflated Urethane Bladder In A Leather Case”

  1. Dick says:

    There is no universe I can imagine where this is a non-starter – to me. If there is no advantage to violating this rule, then it shouldn’t be in the rule book. But it is in the book because there is an advantage. I don’t care if they’re blowing out the Colts or the Westside Warriors, I only want to watch sports that have rules that are enforced.

    This is the second time they’ve been caught cheating in recent years. Either everyone is cheating and the Pats aren’t very good at covering it up or the Pats are cheating significantly more than everyone else. My guess is the latter.

    Anything less than suspending Belichick for the SuperBowl and the first five regular season games is an affront to human dignity. In my opinion, of course.

    • The DA Blog says:

      Rules are violated all the time; ergo, penalties exist.

      This rule has no clear penalty for violation. The League has discretion to impose a variety of punishments.

      The League will not knee-jerk in its reaction–IMO.

      What if the deflator took out too much air and actually made the ball more difficult to handle?

      I get your point: A rule is a rule. Impose the penalty–whatever it is. Suspending Belichick for the SuperBowl–it seems to me–is not the correct decision.

      And don’t insult the Warriors by juxtaposing them with Indy.

      • Dick says:

        Very good point about rules being violated all the time. I would like to make a distinction between “types” of rules. If a player is penalized for pass interference, I don’t look at that player any differently. Even if he tackles the receiver on purpose because he’d rather give up a spot foul than a touchdown. That, to me, is using the rules to your advantage. I don’t consider that player dirty, but smart.

        In contrast, deflating balls is not mere gamesmanship. You have to do it in private and there’s likely some collusion, unless the equipment manager unilaterally did it, which I doubt. This “type” of rules violation makes me question the integrity of the violator. I think the punishment for these RICO-type violations should be severe. That’s right, I just called Belichick a racketeer.

      • The DA Blog says:

        Point taken on integrity, which, according to Merriam-Webster, means “the quality of being honest and fair”.

        Given the League’s backtracking in the Ray Rice matter, this should take some time to sort out. I have no expectation for the penalty, but something “outside the box” would not surprise me given prior New England misconduct.

        I imagine Belichick, Brady, and others believe this is simply a gray area within the rules. That is, the air pressure requirement is arbitrary. Why even have a rule about it? Let the players play–says that group.

        Or as the one guy said to the other guy in “Clear And Present Danger”: “The world is full of gray, Jack!”

        Or as Fletch answered the question “How gray?”: “Charcoal.”

        Belichick doesn’t sound like a very tough last name for a racketeer. Neither does Brady ….

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