The NFL responds to the Patriot Underinflated Football Furor (PUFF). This PUFF is not the magic dragon. It is another kind of silly matter. It involves an investigation of an event where the alleged wrongdoing had no effect on its result. Also, where the rule that was violated has no real practical purpose.
What the NFL statement tells us aside from the usual of how thorough its investigation will be as well as giving the Patriots a pat on the back for its cooperation is: (a) there is a rule relative to the inflation; (b) “game officials inspect the footballs . . .and confirm this standard is satisfied, which was done before last Sunday’s game;” (c) other people are on the investigation team; (d) “nearly 40 interviews have been conducted, . . . [of people] with relevant information and expertise;” (e) they are examining other relevant evidence; (f) they will continue doing what they have been doing; and (g) “the evidence thus far supports the conclusion that footballs . . .[used by the Patriots] were under-inflated,” in the first half and properly inflated in second half and at the end of the game. It said its goal was to determined why the balls were underinflated.
In sum the report tells us nothing more than we already knew prior to its release. But the news media tells us that it learned from “sources” that the referee Walt Anderson inspected all 24 Patriot balls “with a pressure gauge supplied by the league, . . . “ We must ask what is the source of it and why should we believe it. Hopefully, there is some visual or solid evidence to support it other than the words of the referee and his team (whose jobs are at risk, and like the gangsters looking for a deal from the federal government, will say anything to protect themselves.) Without firmly establishing this then there will be no way the NFL will be able to come to any conclusion. What gives credence to what they say is that the 12 footballs that were kept behind had the proper amount of air in them.
By the way we must accept that the weather and game had no effect on the Patriots’ footballs because the pressure in the footballs used by the Colts remained unchanged throughout the game. If it can be shown beyond doubt that the referees properly inspected the footballs with a pressure gauge then we have to accept that air in eleven footballs was deliberately let out or that those footballs experienced a significant different handling or environment than the footballs used by the Colts. The latter should easily be resolved.
Assuming the handling and environment were similar then we have a deliberate act of reducing the pressure. Now add in this as reported by the media that the football remained in the officials locker room until about 10 minutes before the game at which point 12 were handed to the ball boys. We’d have to know who had access to that room aside from the officials. It seems doubtful anyone would be in that room releasing the air from the football especially since an official would be there to give out the balls.
This then is the critical period. What happened in the ten minutes the footballs were in control of the ball boys before they went out to the field. Or, what happened to them once they got out on the field. Clearly neither Belichick or Brady had the opportunity to do anything to them; therefore, whoever did it the only question that remains is identifying the person or persons and ask them who told them to do it.
I assume the NFL investigators have already spoken to the ball boys relative to custody of the balls. If any admitted doing the evil deed, then they have to explain why they did it. I’d suggest none have blamed Brady or Belichick because they would not have been so out front with their denials of any knowledge of the shenanigans. I’d hate to think that either one is involved in them given their public statements.
I have to figure that since this is such a simple investigation the results are already known to the NFL. Obviously it will sit on its findings until after the Super Bowl unless it exonerates all those who are necessary to the team putting its best foot forward in that game. As I said earlier it has all been to the NFL’s benefit to PUFF up the interest in the game to increase the viewership. Time will tell but don’t be surprised if it all disappears after the Super Bowl like a PUFF of wind.