First thing I am going to say is, the Patriots did NOT cheat. I am so sick and tired of people jumping the gun and assuming it was the Patriot’s fault for playing with under-inflated footballs. Allow me to explain, based on the NFL’s own rules:

As is stated in the NFL rulebook, each team makes a dozen footballs available for testing by the head of the officiating crew (the referee) two hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff. In addition, the home team provides an additional dozen footballs (the visiting team can bring 12 backup balls as well, but only for games in indoor stadiums). For kicking plays, eight new footballs, (and I’m quoting here) “sealed in a special box and shipped by the manufacturer to the Referee,” are opened in the officials’ locker room two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff. These footballs are specifically marked by the ref and used as kicking balls only.

The rulebook also states that each ball be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds, and have certain shape, length, and circumference limits. The referee “shall be the sole judge as to whether all balls offered for play comply with these specifications.” Furthermore, a pump is to be supplied by the home team, and each football shall remain under the supervision of the ref until delivered to the ball attendant just before kickoff.

Again, quoting the rulebook, “In the event a home team ball does not conform to specifications, the Referee shall secure a proper ball from the visitors and, failing that, use the best available ball. Any such circumstances must be reported to the Commissioner.”

So given all that protocol, it’s difficult to imagine that the Patriots equipment staff or anyone else associated with the team was able to tamper in any way with the balls used in the AFC Championship versus the Colts. If Indy had a problem with the footballs being provided by New England, they had their own sufficient stash from which they could have drawn.

So therefore shut up about the Patriots being cheaters.


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