While commissioner Roger Goodell has yet to make a decision regarding Tom Brady's appeal for his role in Deflategate, the NFL told its officials this weekend that there will be new procedures for the 2015 season regarding how footballs will be prepared and monitored.
The most notable developments are the number of footballs prepared, random testing and changes in the oversight of the footballs once they've been checked by officials.
There's no change in the properties of the football, which means they will still be inflated between 12 1/2 and 13 1/2 pounds per square inch (PSI).
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Here's a summary of the key changes this season:
* Each team will be required to supply 24 footballs to the officials locker room -- 12 primary and 12 backup -- 2 hours and 15 minutes prior to the game. Last season the home team had to submit 24 footballs prior to the game but the visitors only had to submit 12 footballs with an option to supply an additional 12 for use in outdoor stadiums.
* The referee will designate two members of his crew to conduct a pregame inspection to make sure all footballs meet the required specifications. Last season, the referee was the sole judge.
* The officials will number the balls 1-12. Last season, the balls were not numbered.
* The officials will measure the PSI and record that measurement corresponding to the numbered ball. Last season, no such record was kept.
* Any game ball within the allowable range of 12.5 to 13.5 PSI will be approved and the PSI level will not be altered. Any game ball determined to be over 13.5 PSI or under 12.5 PSI will either be deflated or inflated to 13.0 PSI. Last year there was no specific measurement of 13.0 required if an adjustment had to be made.
Additionally, the same procedure will be followed with respect to the backup set of game balls for each team.
Each NFL game last season had kicking ball coordinator, hired by the league, who has been primarily responsible for the six kicking balls. They will now take custody of all the balls once they've been approved until 10 minutes prior to kickoff.
At that point, the kicking ball coordinator, along with a member of the officiating crew and a security representative, will bring the footballs to the on-field replay station. Upon arrival, the game balls will be distributed to each team's ball crew in the presence of the league security representative. The backup balls will remain secured in the officials' locker room until needed.
Last season, the league's security representative was not a part of the total process and the kicking ball coordinator was not specifically assigned to be with the footballs the entire time.
At designated games, selected at random, the game balls used in the first half, will be collected by the kicking ball coordinator (KBC) at halftime and the league's security representative will escort the KBC to the locker room.
During halftime, the balls from both teams will be inspected and the PSI results will be measured and recorded by the two designated members of the crew who inspected them during the pregame. Once measured, those game balls will then be secured by the security representative and removed from play. The backup balls will then be used for the second half.
Also, at the end of any randomly selected game, the KBC will return the footballs to the officials' locker room, where all game balls from each team will be inspected and the results will be recorded.
All game ball information will be included in the referee's report to the league office.
Is all of this an overreaction? I think it is, but I think the league has a tendency to do that.
It's not a lot different than the random player checks the officials currently are required to perform prior to the game and at halftime in their respective team locker room. The officials are checking to see if there are foreign substances on their uniforms.
Checking the balls before the game and after the game would have been enough for me. The officials have approximately only six minutes in their locker room at halftime as it is. By the time they get off the field and then have to leave to notify the teams with a two-minute warning to get back on the field, that leaves them hardly enough time to catch their breaths.
Now they have to measure 24 footballs at random games. Now instead of officials discussing their performance in the first half and getting ready for the second half, they'll be adjusting PSI's.
Really? It's come to this? It all has an air of pretentiousness to me.