NFL officials will be keeping a closer eye on game balls after Sunday's reported rules changes the league is implementing in response to the New England Patriots' Deflategate saga.
FoxSports.com's Mike Pereira reports officials were informed of the situation Sunday. The referee will select two crew members to keep a record of the pounds per square inch (PSI) on all game balls, which have to be in the range of 12.5 and 13.5 PSI. Any ball found to be outside such measurements will be modified down to exactly 13 PSI.
All teams are required to bring 24 balls to each game. The 12 primary footballs will be numbered one through 12, and their PSI levels will be recorded. The 12 backup balls are to go through the same rules procedures. All game balls' PSI readings will be remeasured during halftime.
The Patriots' alleged rules violation has been ubiquitous in the headlines ever since they came under scrutiny for their tactics in a 45-7 trouncing of Indianapolis in the AFC title game. New England is dealing with quite the backlash after its Super Bowl XLIX triumph.
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Part of the punishment for the Patriots' misdeeds is a four-game suspension for quarterback Tom Brady, which the NFLPA appealed.
ESPN's Sal Paolantonio said Friday on Mighty 1090 AM that Colts owner Jim Irsay and Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti are among those who believe New England has gotten off easy and would object to a reduced ban for Brady (h/t CSNNE.com's Tom E. Curran):
[By reducing the suspension] you're angering some of the hard-core owners out there. I know who they are and I'm gonna name 'em right now: Jim Irsay of the Colts. Steve Bisciotti of the Ravens and others in the AFC who believe the Patriots have gotten away with murder for years and have not been publicly punished properly.
An independent investigation concluded from its evidence that Brady more probably than not had knowledge of the deflated balls the Pats used against the Colts.
Stephanie Stradley of the Houston Chronicle weighed in on the complicated dynamic surrounding the Deflategate scandal:
Stephanie Stradley @StephStradley
Worse for integrity of NFL games? a. Maybe QB had general knowledge of ball deflation? b. Rumors some owners lobbying for QB suspension?2015-7-23 15:18:27
Debates are bound to go on for years about what role deflated footballs played in the Pats' campaign for a Lombardi Trophy. Similar tactics won't be possible in the near future if these reported rules adjustments by the league are indeed obeyed and carried out on game days.
Whatever competitive advantage New England might have enjoyed before can't be emulated again. Its greater concern is how it will guard the NFL's most coveted hardware if Brady is indeed out for the start of the 2015 campaign.