The NFL’s NEW Football Pressure Rules — Hooray!

Congratulations to the NFL for instituting rules which should remove the mystery from DeflateGate, even if it is at the risk of embarrassing the NFL and exonerating the Patriots.  This is a bold and correct move.   It is fair.  It is tedious, but should ultimately clear the air and determine if the weather is the culprit in DeflateGate.  However, by the time we have the correct answer, it will be well past deadlines placed on Brady’s suspension.  That part seems unfair.

The good procedures to be implemented:

  • Measure the footballs before the game, presumably at room temperature and with the balls dry.  This is no different from what has been done in the past, except they have doubled the number of balls, and will record the pressures.
  • Measure the footballs after the game. If there has been no “cheating”, the balls should return to the original temperature and pressure. (This return will take about 1 hour after the game, and should be done in the same room as the initial measurement, and in full knowledge that wet balls will tend towards the “wet-bulb” temperature and pressure, and dry balls will tend towards the original temperature and pressure).
  • Measure the footballs at halftime.  (This is what may exonerate the Patriots)

What they will find with the halftime measurements:

  1. On hot days the ball pressure will be high.  For example, on an 80F day, the ball pressure on a dry, unused ball will go up .5psi.  If it is sunny on that same day, balls on a turf field where the field temperatures (not the air temperature) may reach 120F could find pressures up by 1.0 to 2.0 psi.  This will lead to a wide variability in ball pressures depending upon their usage on the field.
  2. On wet days, there will be variability in the ball pressures which are wet, particularly if the humidity is significantly less than 100%, and it is windy, allowing for significant evaporative cooling.
  3. On cool wet days, particularly in January when the ground is frozen and the air temperature is warmer than the ground temperature, the ball pressures will be low, and vary with wetness and recentness of use on the chilled wet field. (similar to the Patriots-Colts AFC Championship game).  If what the Patriots have been saying is true, then the pressures in these balls will be similar to the Patriots balls in the halftime measurement of the AFC Championship game.
  4. On days when it is 70F and dry, the ball pressures changes will be remarkably unremarkable.

So can this exonerate the Patriots?  It won’t happen until we find a game which fits item #3 above, and the NFL decides to do the measurement at that game.  Then it will either condemn the Patriots, or exonerate them.  My strong bet is on exoneration.  We will either find halftime measurements which fit the profile of Patriots balls at the AFC Championship game, or we will not.

Because of statistics we will never be able to absolutely rule out a nefarious occurrence in the bathroom with the game balls, but we should be able to demonstrate convincingly that the weather could have been the complete culprit all along.  And, if one or more balls were deflated, it was not by a significant amount.


The following information on the new NFL procedures can be found at:  NFL Finalizes New Rules for Football Inspection

Among the new procedures:

  The “kicking ball coordinator” at each game, who previously only handled the six “k balls,” will now take custody of all footballs once they have been approved by the officials, and maintain control of the footballs until 10 minutes before kickoff. The coordinator, a member of the officiating crew, and a security representative will bring the 24 approved game footballs (12 for each team) to the on-field replay station, at which point the footballs will be distributed to each team, in the presence of the league security personnel. The 24 backup footballs (12 for each team) will remain secured in the officials’ locker room.

 The NFL will designate random games in which to test the football PSI at halftime and after the game. The kicking ball coordinator will collect the footballs from both teams at halftime, will be escorted to the locker room by the league’s security personnel, will measure and record the PSI of all 24 footballs, and then remove the footballs from play. The 24 backup footballs will then be used in the second half.

 At the end of each randomly selected game, the kicking ball coordinator will again inspect all game balls from each team and record the results. All recorded information will be reported back to the league office.

 Before the game, the referee will designate two members of the officiating crew to inspect the balls pregame. The officials will number the balls 1-12, and record all PSI data. Previously, the balls were not numbered, the data was not recorded, and only one member of the officiating crew inspected the footballs.

 The footballs still need to measure between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI. If a ball comes in above or below those numbers, it will be adjusted to 13.0 PSI.

 

Source: NFL Finalizes New Rules for Football Inspection

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