Football-gate? Would you risk it? Neither would we.

AFC ChamoionshipWho would ever think we would be talking about PSI (Pounds per Square Inch) following an AFC Championship game? Even the term “PSI” scares me, because of my intense memories of high school and college physics.

After the Indianapolis Colts loss to the Patriots, by a score of 45-7, a radio station in Indianapolis (WTHR) reported that the Patriots are about to be investigated by the NFL for using an under-inflated football.

I might mention that IF this “report” were true, and IF a culprit was found, it could have a catastrophic effect on the careers of the Patriots coaching staff, the ownership and the entire offense of the New England Patriots.

Now before I go any further, I want to state that I am not a fan of either team. I think both Brady and Luck are phenomenal QB’s and I wish my team had either one! Andrew Luck will have his day. As an observer, I think the Colts have come a long way, and they should be proud of how far they have come, but yesterday’s score did not shock me.

I am not one of those statistics guys but I know that earlier in the season, the Patriots beat the Colts 42-20 and all the way back in 2012, they beat them 59-24. I would assume there were no deflated footballs at those games, nor at all of the away games the Patriots played this season.

Now I will turn to an excellent article by Mike Reiss for ESPN (January 19, 2015) entitled: “NFL investigating Patriots’ footballs.” Specifically, the NFL is looking into the allegation that someone on the Patriots sideline deflated the footballs. As I break out in hives when I talk physics and rulebooks, let me quote from the article:

“Former NFL official Jim Daopoulos, in an interview with ESPN on Monday morning, explained the process in which footballs are managed. Two hours and 15 minutes before each game, officials inspect 12 footballs from each team and put a mark on them to indicate they meet the proper requirements and are good for usage. Then those footballs are given to the ball attendant.

There is also a second set of six footballs, used specifically for the kicking game, that  are marked appropriately and remain in the possession of officials at all times. ‘Officials check balls as they go into the game, and if the ball doesn’t feel perfect, they can throw it out,’ Daopoulos said. ‘There is always the possibility that balls can lose air due to the conditions.’”

The article also said that: “Footballs must be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch and weigh between 14 and 15 ounces.”

So we have 18 footballs being pounced upon, kicked, passed, dropped, fumbled, etc. in pouring rain. A football, much like a soccer ball, volleyball, baseball or beach ball, can lose many of its characteristics in play and pouring rain.

Of course, we don’t know that the balls were under-inflated, only what the radio station in Indianapolis is telling us. Yes, we saw an official pick up one ball and exchange it for another, but by then the game was out-of-control. If I’m thinking like an unethical ball boy, why wouldn’t I do this in the first quarter when the game still had the possibility of being close?

Our society and the football field

There are many, many times when I have heard people say, “Chuck, you know football is a lot like life.” Or the even dumber statement, “Football is just like war.”

For the record, I have met WWII veterans who fought with men such as General Patton across Europe. Trust me, football is nothing like war. It is a tough game, sometimes brutal and sometimes unfair, but it is definitely not war.

Is football a lot like life? No, I but think that to many life can be a lot like football. We often look “for flags” because we think we’re being fouled and we rely overmuch on our technology because we feel we can’t possibly be wrong. We want huge endorsement deals even when we’re being unethical and always, instant replay for when we’re caught in the act. Many of us whine a little too much and many blame the referees in their lives. If you would like you can call it a victim mentality. In case anyone is wondering, it is NOT unusual for refs to change footballs during a game. Please keep conspiracy theories out of this.

The price of tampering with the football in the AFC Championship game would have been incalculable. It would have been (a gross understatement) completely unethical. So too, an unfounded report by “sources” that the Patriots were cheating by deflating the ball to make it easier to throw and catch. Someone had damn well name sources – and fast. Or shut up and pay that price too.

The real question is this: had the Patriots lost, would the radio station in Indianapolis have brought this up in the first place?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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