All teams must now give 24 balls to the referee for pregame testing
The #DeflateGate saga continues to percolate in the court system, and it continues to influence the rule book.
Rule 2, Section 2 quietly has been revised to alter the pregame procedures regarding the submission of footballs for PSI testing. Previously, each team was required to make 12 balls available for pregame testing two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff. The home team also was required to make 12 backup balls available for testing in all stadiums, and the visiting teams was permitted to bring 12 balls for pregame testing at game played in outdoor stadiums only.
As revised, Rule 2, Section 2 now requires all teams in all games to give 12 primary balls and 12 backup balls to the referee no later than 2 hours and 30 minutes before kickoff.
It’s unclear why the change was made. It’s possibly a byproduct of random in-game PSI checks, which take the primary balls out of service and require teams to use their backup balls. For indoor games or outdoor games at which the visiting team didn’t choose to bring 12 backup balls, the 12 backup balls brought by the home team become the only balls used, by both teams, for the rest of the game.
None of this changes the fact that the NFL has opted to conceal all information generated last year regarding the process of randomly checking PSI, other than to declare that no violations were found. The league surely has opted to tiptoe around these details because full transparency would result in an admission that, yes, football were used (and routinely are used) with PSI levels below 12.5, given the operation of the Ideal Gas Law.
There’s also a chance that the numbers measured at games played in particularly cold conditions showed PSI numbers even lower than those measured in the New England footballs from the playoff game that pushed this issue into the public consciousness.