Approximately nine years ago National Football League Quarterbacks, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady approached other QB’s seeking their signatures in support of petitioning the league for rule changes in reference to game balls. The majority signed leading to the changes of NFL game ball procedures in 2006.
Prior to this change of protocol, the balls were shipped to the locations of host teams. When the unused, slippery footballs were taken out of boxes, equipment personnel rubbed the slippery surfaces off. This was proven to be ineffective since many QB’s complained that the balls were still slippery, making them hard to grip during actual games.
According to Ben Volin’s (Boston Globe) interview with former NFL referee, Jim Daopoulos (1989-2000) and the NFL’s supervisor of officials from (2001-12) back in January 2015 pertaining to those changes, Daopoulos stated, “So the competition committee said, ‘We’re going to let the quarterbacks determine which footballs they want, practice with them all week, do what you want with them, as long as the football is not overly up. Then submit that ball to the officials, and the officials can tell if they’d want to use it for a game, and then they’ll stick a gauge into it and check the weight. Once they do that, that ball has met the requirements, and they put them in a bag, and they stay in that room with them, that locker room, until they leave to go to the field about 10 minutes before kickoff.
So we now have the Tom Brady Deflategate controversy. Led by Attorney Tedd Wells in May, the NFL completed their investigation which resulted in the suspension of Brady for four games. The NFL felt Brady’s suspension was warranted based on "conduct detrimental to the integrity of the NFL" for his role in the scandal. In addition, the NFL took away the Patriots' 2016 first-round pick and 2017 fourth-round pick and fined the team $1 million. Brady, of course, appealed his suspension.
After the controversy, the NFL has made changes to their handling procedures for game balls. Please reference this related link.
On last week, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld that suspension and this matter is now headed to federal court. Tom Brady and the National Football League's Players Association (NFLPA) are suing the NFL. The case was assigned to U.S. District Court Judge Richard M. Berman in New York City.
Even though the odds are stacked against Tom Brady, I wouldn't totally count him out quite yet because it appears that Judge Richard M. Berman is determined to get the case settled before a scheduled settlement/oral argument conference on Wednesday, August 19, 2015.
Tom Brady may be guilty of having some footballs deflated, but that doesn't necessarily mean it contributed to his throwing proficiency. Remember former Houston Texan QB, David Carr? Judy Battista of the New York Times reported back in November of 2006 that Carr admitted to instructing ball boys to let a little air out of his assigned footballs during an exhibition game in Denver. He felt that slightly deflated footballs would allow firmer grips. Since he didn’t have much success in the NFL, deflated footballs didn’t appear to present him an unfair advantage during his professional career.
I realize that Brady can be a bit arrogant and snobbish at times, but he isn’t the first and won’t be the last athlete to find an edge enabling them to prevail over the opposition.
How much did Brady really benefit from deflated footballs? Is there any scientific proof or data that can attribute his on the field success to deflated footballs? If that were the case, then there would never be the David Carr’s of the football world.