NFL investigates deflationary spiralsThe NFL says its investigation into whether the New England Patriots used under-inflated footballs in the AFC championship game is ongoing after a report Tuesday night claimed the league found that 11 balls were not properly inflated.
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president for football operations, said the “investigation is currently under way and we’re still awaiting findings.’’
Vincent was responding to an ESPN report that cited anonymous league sources saying 11 of the Patriots’ 12 game footballs were under-inflated by 2 pounds per square inch. ESPN did not say how that occurred.
Vincent said earlier Tuesday he expected the probe to be concluded by the end of the week. The last thing the NFL wants after a difficult season off the field is a potential cheating scandal that disrupts Super Bowl week. New England will face Seattle on Feb. 1 in Glendale, Arizona.
The Patriots, who beat Indianapolis, 45-7, for the AFC title, said they were cooperating with the league, and a Seahawks spokesman said the team would defer to the league on the matter.
The NFL began looking into the issue not only because doctoring the footballs could provide a competitive advantage, but because it would compromise the integrity of the game.
Deflating a football can change the way it’s gripped by a player or the way it travels through the air. Under NFL rules, each team provides balls for use when its offense is on the field. The balls are inspected before the game by the officiating crew, then handled during the game by personnel provided by the home team.
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said on ESPN radio in Milwaukee that he didn’t like how referees who inspected balls before games take air out of the game balls.
Rodgers said referees have a set range in which they “like to set game balls,’’ and that he always liked the higher end of the range because of his grip.
“I just have a hard time throwing a flat football,’’ Rodgers said. “My belief is that there should be a minimum air-pressure requirement but not a maximum.’’