With all the talk surrounding the New England Patriots and the deflated footballs Tom Brady used to get to the Super Bowl, it’s important to separate facts from fiction. Many of the analysis suggest that the miniscule decrease in air pressure within the old pigskin did not make much of a difference in affecting the Patriots’ win over the Colts, we like to think it did. As a former high school football player who spent countless hours doing football training workouts such as agility ladder drills for football and the ball machine (the spinning wheel machine that launches a football at you), a softer ball is a lot easier to catch and grip. Here are the reason why subjectively, lower ball pressure made a difference in a game.
Just like college football, NFL teams on offense use their own set of footballs. So back to the 2014 AFC Championship game, where the weather was rainy with a temperature of 50 degrees Fahrenheit. As we all know, rain and cold weather makes the football extremely difficult to catch. With the NFL stating that all footballs need to be between 12.5 to 13.5 PSI – 11 out of the 12 footballs used by Tom Brady’s Patriots were 2.5 PSI below requirements. While it is possible the cold weather caused a reduction of air pressure, it is unlikely that much air could have escaped in such a short span of time. After all, all balls are measured prior to kickoff.
Although less air in a football meant a lower velocity when the ball was thrown (translating into slower speed by which the ball traveled by air), it made the football softer. During the AFC Championship game, Mike Adams provided the footballs he intercepted from Tom Brady to officials for inspection. The balls were noticeably softer, making them easier to catch. During that game, the cold weather made the leather stiffer. Football with less air reduces the amount of bounce when it hits the hands of a wide receiver. Try this experiment yourself: get a football and a friend. Play catch with an overly inflated ball. Deflate some air and do the same. Keep in mind the difference and how much hand strength is needed to catch the softer ball. Now apply that to a cold and wet scenario and visualize how big of a difference that makes in a playoff game.
While how we feel about deflate gate is speculation based on limited knowledge, it is impossible to know the truth. By no means are we insisting the Patriots cheated, because there is no way knowing who or what caused the decrease in air pressure within the footballs. What we do know is that a lower PSI makes a ball easier to catch. The punishment doled out does seem a bit harsh given the lack of evidence. The Patriots were the better team last season and they deservingly won the Super Bowl XLIX. Take what we say here with a grain of salt, being how we are Saints fans.