During Thursday night's preseason game between the Philadelphia Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, Howard Eskin of 94.1 WIP in Philadelphia reported that one of Pittsburgh's footballs was "very deflated" and that the NFL was investigating.
Friday, the NFL released the findings of its investigation, noting that there had been no foul play by the visiting Steelers:
Mike Garafolo @MikeGarafolo
From @NFLfootballinfo: “All footballs were in compliance w/ NFL rules following the pregame inspection process + all proper procedures were followed. In the third quarter, a football that was found to be defective was removed from play + will be sent back to Wilson for review.”
Eskin added that the football was discovered in the second quarter while Mason Rudolph was quarterbacking for Pittsburgh.
The subject of deflated footballs became a major storyline following the 2014 season, after the NFL began investigating the New England Patriots and Tom Brady following their AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts in January 2015. Officials replaced the balls used in the first half after the Colts reported that the balls the Patriots were using had been deflated past the allowed pounds per square inch.
That led to the lengthy and messy battle between the league and Patriots that was eventually dubbed as Deflategate. Brady was suspended four games over the incident, which included an appeal process that lasted over a year, while the Patriots lost a 2016 first-round pick and 2017 fourth-rounder as punishment.
Brady ultimately served his four games to start the 2016 season.
Suffice to say, nobody in the NFL or its orbit is likely keen to go through another Deflategate scandal, making Friday's news about an isolated and defective ball a relief.