SAN FRANCISCO -- You are Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner.
You allowed more than $10 million of your bosses’ money to be spent on an investigation, court proceeding and appeal that left you looking like you didn’t understand seventh-grade science. You’ve also put an important portion of the Collective Bargaining Agreement in jeopardy as regards to discipline and cemented an already well-earned reputation for bullying and twisting the truth.
You now have numbers in hand that will either prove you were right all along, that the Patriots footballs measured (haphazardly) last January dropped so precipitously the results couldn’t be duplicated. Or you have numbers in hand that prove you threw up all over yourself.
What do you do with these numbers?
You pretend you never wanted anyone to see them.
On Tuesday, Goodell appeared on The Rich Eisen Show and, when asked about the PSI checks, replied, “What the league did this year was what we do with a lot of rules and policies designed to protect the integrity of the game, and that’s to create a deterrent effect.
“We do spot checks to prevent and make sure the clubs understand that we’re watching these issues,” he added. “It wasn’t a research study. They simply were spot checks. There were no violations this year. We’re pleased that we haven’t had any violations and we continue the work, obviously, to consistently and importantly enforce the integrity of the game and the rules that are designed to protect it.”
It’s funny, because in October, when I reached out to the league to ask about this, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league hadn’t decided yet how to disseminate its findings.
This notion of “spot checks” was never even broached before Goodell opened his gob today.
Here’s how the NFL described its plan for checking footballs back in August:
“At designated games, selected at random, the game balls used in the first half will be collected by the [kicking ball coordinator] at halftime, and the League’s Security Representative will escort the KBC with the footballs to the Officials’ Locker room. During halftime, each game ball for both teams will be inspected in the locker room by designated members of the officiating and security crews, and the PSI results will be measured and recorded. Once measured, those game balls will then be secured and removed from play.”
Does that sound like a damn spot check to you? Because, to me, it sounds like data gathering and evidence preservation. Spot check would be goosing every 33rd ball a ref comes in contact with every couple of weeks, giving a thumbs-up and tossing it back into play.
So the NFL got the numbers in its "spot checks" and Goodell is “pleased to report there are no violations this year.”
How many were under 12.5? How much did they deflate in similar conditions to last January’s AFC Championship Game? How much did they inflate in the heat? Did any get into the 10 PSI range on really cold days?
This stuff was really important last January through September. Studies commissioned, investigations launched, reputations dragged along behind the NFL bus. Was it all worth it?
Of course it wasn’t. And that’s why you keep it all in the dark.