Come on. You know what song I’m talking about.

As Roger Goodell and his NFL ilk try to figure out the ruling on Tom Brady’s appeal with the smallest amount of P.R. damage, it’s time to bring up the one aspect of this foolishness that hasn’t been called into question:

The NFL has to ditch the football inflation rule.

Listen, they can do whatever they want with the Brady appeal. They can present it to the masses like a commandment to be followed or make it into a paper boat and perform a mini Viking funeral. The rule, as it were, exists. If the NFL is willing to stick with the questionable figures of the Wells report and ignore the lessons of any ninth grade intro to physical science class, so be it. “More likely than not,” “generally aware,” etc.

But, moving forward, it’s time to get rid of – or at least greatly expand – the ball inflation parameters. A brief look at the task of enforcing this rule – which, as far as we can tell, had never been strictly enforced – tells us the reasons why.

Every football must have air pressure between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch (psi). The Wells report revealed the nonchalant nature in which these measurements take place, with officials using differently calibrated gauges while neglecting to write down measurements or numerate the footballs themselves.

All footballs must be numbered. All measurements must be recorded. All gauges must be calibrated. Sounds like we might need another official to take care of these matters.

The NFL must hire a Head of Football Pressure. He then must hire two PSI officials for every game, one for each team’s footballs (this will give each official necessary time to take halftime measurements).

Now, about that pesky science: we know that a football’s pressure in Miami at the season opener will have a different halftime reading than a football in Green Bay during Week 17. We need a physics-trained football official (PTF), one who can take game time outdoor temperature, humidity and/or dampness of each ball, time of possession (to figure time of exposure for each football), halftime indoor temperature, and – while the aforementioned PSI official takes measurements – come up with a “real” pressure loss or gain for each individual ball.

Keep in mind, the Wells Report took almost four months. But, if we can’t get a couple of people to figure this all out in 20 minutes, let’s just expand halftime another five or ten minutes and bring in another handful of officials to get it done. How about a PSI and PTF official for each football? Nothing like a few dozen extra guys milling about in a designated Ball Science room.

I mean, if they’re taking this seriously, can they stop at halftime? Don’t they have to repeat the process at the end of each game, for integrity and all that?

Yeah. Time to get rid of that rule.

Before this past January, very few people knew or concerned themselves with the specifics of football psi. Referees judged a football’s game worthiness by giving it a squeeze. Sometimes they’d pump it up themselves, sometimes with shaky results. Now, what if equipment managers could get the psi that their QBs wanted? What if they let the refs grip them before the game – right there on the sideline – and be done with it?

Ball seems too flat or overinflated? The officials say so and ask for a few pumps of air put in or taken out of the ball. During the game, if the ref finds a ball lacking, he tosses it back in and asks for another. It’s hard to see many difficulties with leaving the pressure up to the refs’ discretion. We already do that with the most important aspect of the game: spotting the ball.

Think about it: how closely can a human being determine the position of a football several feet away while it’s gripped by a runner getting knocked around by large men? If the official is off by one inch per play – which seems remarkably efficient – then by fourth and inches, maybe every one of those inches has already been accounted for. Maybe, in Perfectworld, it’s already first down.

That’s the game, though. We live with those potential inaccuracies because putting GPS locator devices in each ball and having a digital readout for each play would prove too costly and time-consuming. Kind of like hiring hundreds of new officials and building a science lab in every NFL stadium.

Some teams might try to take advantage of this non-rule by inflating footballs to under 11 pounds, making them easy to grab in harsh weather conditions. Again, officials’ discretion: if they feel a football is too soft, get another one. If they feel that the team in question continues to provide soft footballs, give a warning, then hit them with a delay-of-game penalty.

The NFL in general (and Goodell in particular) turned a silly rule infraction (that science has told us may not have occurred) into talk show fodder where the outrage seemed inversely proportional to actual football knowledge. That an improbable breaking of an oft-ignored rule became “-gate”-worthy is on them.

Getting rid of that rule would take off the pressure of trying to enforce it. But I don’t expect they will. If this fiasco has taught us anything, it’s that the NFL doesn’t really understand pressure.

Chris Warner tweets @cwarn89


26 thoughts on “That Song By Queen And David Bowie

  1. To add on about the enforcement, Chris, according to @footballzebras, who is definitely clued in to NFL refs and that arena:

    If the “excuse” to this was that they wanted to spend time in order to come up with a better policy, that’d be understandable. If the concern were so paramount, they could have easily come up with a plan between January and when the last league meetings were to basically improve upon enforcement of the rule already on the books. (This reminds me of when you see the speed trap setup toward the end of the month.)


  2. If this goes to court, while everyone’s all over the map on what can happen, I think the only thing we know is that Brady can challenge the discipline element of what happened. (Just said since all of us would love discovery.)

    I know he’s not a lawyer but that’s interesting.


    1. He’s not a lawyer… but he’s very perceptive. The argument he’s (implicitly) stating is certainly viable.

      Peterson’s case was decided on what’s basically a technicality: the arbitrator based his decision on an issue that was not part of the arbitration. (In a nutshell: Peterson did his stuff at point A. Later, at point B, the “new” personal conduct standards were announced. At point C, Peterson was punished for his stuff under the “new” policy. Union argued that the new standard couldn’t be applied retroactively. Arbitrator found that it couldn’t, but that punishment would have been appropriate under old standard. Doty rejected award: said question of whether it would have been good under old policy was not at issue — only whether actual application of punishment was valid. It wasn’t; arb award overturned.)

      With Brady: keep in mind (unlike most national media) what the punishment is for: knowledge that team personnel were violating rules applicable to the organization, and “lack of cooperation” pursuant to an investigation into those potential actions. Union has a very good argument that (a) members had no actual or constructive knowledge of the standards under which this punishment was meted (i.e. no rule saying “you need to tell about infractions by ballboys”), therefore punishment is pursuant to a “new” policy created just for this action. That would not be in the spirit of the CBA — employer does not have right under CBA to create new causes of action.

      If I’m the union’s attorney, I make it very clear to NFL office that part of lawsuit will consist of a claim that league office/Goodell acted in bad faith w/r/t the investigation, and there will be discovery claims for all internal emails/phone records/memorandae relating to the investigation. That would probably be enough to end this VERY quickly.


      1. Someone I was listening to over the weekend brought up this very point. (If I had to remember, it was Villani on Sunday.) I was wondering a bit about this because it seems like the place they’re going to win this part.

        They’re leveling a penalty on a player, which was only intended for orgs, and that’s not permissible under the CBA. Do I have it summarized properly? And, in order to justify it, even with the broad powers given to Goodell under player discipline, a judge would most likely want him/NFL to “prove” it? IE: discovery. And, if what most of us suspect went on did go on, the last thing in the world the NFL wants is this.

        Question then if this gets dropped or overturned against Brady: Would the team then have some grounds to challenge the pick and fine?


        1. Nope. Compete and total difference with the team vs. an employee covered by the CBA. Kraft’s only option was an Al Davis-like suit against the NFL, which he wasn’t going to do. The whole existence of this fiasco is a gigantic sign of how much ill-will and lack of support Kraft has with the other owners right now, which is somewhat inexplicable IMHO. But I digress. Anyhow, if Goodell had ownership backing for this ridiculous penalty, it means that any move by Kraft would be met by a revocation of his franchise and a forced sale. I think there are a lot of owners who would think nothing of moving the Pats out to LA. Half the people in the region already watch the Giants to begin with — the potential gains more than outweigh the potential losses. Kraft wasn’t going to liquidate his asset over this.

          But Bob will have his revenge — fear not. Remember that the last CBA was concluded, after a seeming impasse, when Bob left Myra’s deathbed to broker a settlement. (And this is the thanks he gets, by the way.) When this CBA expires in a couple of years…. I don’t think Bob’s going to view labor peace as such a high priority. What’s changed since then? Well, if the NFL goes away for an entire season over a strike… Bob’s got Patriot Place, and maybe a casino down the line, and all the revenue pouring in from that to tide him over. I don’t think the Krafts would starve. You guys having problems with the union? Strike threatens your finances and the terms of the gigantic credit facilities you used to purchase your team? My, what a shame. Hey, isn’t Roger Goodell supposed to be the point man on this? How’s he doing?

          That will be Bob’s revenge. It will be sweet.


          1. Right, but there were other precedents that were violated by the NFL in their sting operation. When teams complain about other teams messing around with the equipment, the NFL sends out of warning. No such warning was sent to the Pats and we all know about the half-assed sting they ran at halftime and the non-punishment for Gostkowski not turning his phone in to Wells and the Colts for illegally sticking a needle in the intercepted ball during the game.


          2. Brady won’t win in Federal court? Even if a judge reviews the league’s “evidence” and finds it as flawed, half-assed, biased and unconvincing as everyone else (with a brain and without agendas) has found? I find that one hard to believe. My guess is that McCann is speaking from a procedural standpoint when he says Brady won’t win. From an evidence standpoint, it’s a slam dunk: the NFL has no evidence, so Brady wins. The league also has acted in bad faith and repeatedly lied during this entire affair. That has to count for something.


        2. Not sure if the team can get its stolen picks (and money) back, from a legal standpoint, because their hands are tied by the agreement Kraft and all other owners have signed vis a vis legal action against the league. Also, even if Brady is exonerated, unless the two locker room attendants file suits against the NFL for defamation, harassment, lost wages, or what have you, then Goodell can still claim, like the crap weasel he is, that even though Brady had no knowledge and therefore his penalties are voided, the NFL still believes the team’s employees illegally deflated footballs. Ergo, the ridiculous, harsh penalties against the team, which the other 31 owners and fan bases are very happy to see imposed, will still apply. I’m still aching for Brady to file a defamation suit against the league. As I noted in the last thread this morning, he’s become the butt of jokes about “deflation” across all media platforms, including lame comments by rock DJ’s on XM radio. His name has been tarnished and his brand damaged….he should sue for defamation. The willful malice by the league office against Brady and the organization in this case should be fairly easy to prove IMO.


  3. The NFL better be 100% positive about the PSI results from the Pats footballs.

    I’m fairly certain there will several (at least) high schools and colleges that will be running science experiments to track game ball PSI over the course of a season. My hypothesis is that the numbers will be all over the place.


  4. Because I am old…Under Pressure is one of my favorite songs…but I also remember when the video debuted on MTV and how it was a big deal that Queen and Bowie were working together…Glam rock meets Glam rock. Ahhh the good old days when Martha Quin was cute, Nina Blackwood hot, Mark Goodman dorky, J.J. Jackson cool and Alan Hunter annoying.

    Anyway, great points by several people below about how Brady can win this. I think that stopped being the primary focal point of this whole thing a little while ago. I think Goodell and Co are desperately searching for a way out of this mess that does not expose the front the office for being on a vendetta. The problem they have is that any solution that does not get them sued ends up exposing them.

    The NFLPA is licking its chops waiting for the final verdict. I think the observation that Goodell can’t reduce the sentence unless Brady pre-agrees to accept it without a suit shows how weak Goodells position actually is. What’s worse Goodell by now has to know there is no evidence the Pats did anything. There is just a suspicion and 100 seconds of video of McNally taking the balls to the bathroom. Idiots like Felger keep repeating “The Pats are guilty of something” and like Beatle “Its clear they tampered with the footballs” are fanning flames both locally and nationally because they can’t seem to understand that nothing happened to the footballs that day. NOTHING. The science has the football pressure exactly where it should be. So each time someone calls up and asks Felger “What did they do” and he replies “something”, I keep thinking….this is the Flagship station of the Patriots…can’t they do better?

    Tom Curran, who I think has been the most astute and most out front in analyzing this story has stated all along the issues are with the league’s behavior not the Pats. If I am Goodell I am scared poopless that a federal judge subpoenas all the leagues records (a fitting bit of irony actually) and then issues a detailed ruling on how the league attempted to “sting” the Pats. That opens the NFL up to a lawsuit by Jastremski and McNally. Curran points out over and over that underlings dragged Goddell into this mess and Goodell seems too stupid to do what he ordered Kraft to do…separate those underlings from the organization. As such the NFL is about it reap what it has sewn.

    The best solution…complete vacating of all punishments and an admittance the NFL got it wrong does not appear on the table. The need to “gotcha” and “stick it to the Pats” because of something stupid that happened 8 years ago, Spy gate, has made the naturally occurring deflation of a football into the most bizarre national story since the debate over introducing the $2 bill.

    At this point I do not want to move on. I am fully invested in this train wreck and I want to see what happens. I want the NFL to continue to dig its own grave and for the Brady and the NFLPA to stick it to them completely. I never did like Vanilla Ice sampling the Under Pressure riff, perhaps its because I think what he did was lazy…kind of like Goodell not understanding the hornets nest he was stepping into when he spent $5 mill and untold hours uncovering absolutely nothing….say it again…war…what is it good for…sorry I was just thinking of another very appropriate song.


    1. “I think the observation that Goodell can’t reduce the sentence unless Brady pre-agrees to accept it without a suit”

      Can they do that? Would Brady and his lawyers actually entertain that? If you’re Goodell don’t you just have to make a decision one way or another and hope to the gods that Brady doesn’t take you to court. I thought the time for negotiation in this mess was long over.


      1. So there was a report…maybe Profootballtalk…I can’t remember and I am too lazy to go dig it out…that said…word is Goodell was looking to reduce Brady’s suspension to 1 or 2 games but the wanted a guarantee from Brady’s side that they would not sue/contest the ruling. In effect Goodell was negotiating because it is in Goodell’s interest to not look weak on this in the face of the other owners. Why the other owners feelings would come into account when it comes CORRECTLY accessing a situation and meting out justice is beyond me.

        The short answer to your question is they can do whatever they want…there are no rules here…and clearly the rules they have they make up as they go along.


    1. So what’s this coup nonsense Fatty was teasing to start the show? The fact that the Forehead is taking some vacation time and Tang is filling in?


    2. The woman who called, Linda I think, got it completely right when she said…”Guys (kirk and John) I am a loyal listener, I love you guys, but I hate when you have Tanguay on”.

      How bad is Tanguay…I listened to 15 minutes of 98.5 Mile. I am 48 years old and I was listening to 98.5 mile. Seriously, WEEI, stop putting this moron on the air. The fact that he does not understand the comments about the kitchen were not offensive is yet another in a long line of arguments that prove he is a moron. Oh and note to Tanguay…the woman who offended you at the school committee meeting was not making a comment that you should read the sports scores because that what you do…she made the comment pointing out that you are a moron and need a script to talk while not sounding like the learning disabled idiot you are.


      1. Yeah, that caller was funny.

        While I’m not a T+R fan, I think 98 Mile is brilliant. It’s funny putting each personality up against each other, most having never ‘rapped’ or even produced a song in their life. It really humbles people and each one really gets personal (oh hey lets be offended!). Just my opinion, though.

        I heard Minihane say that Ordway was busy. Nobody else available?


      2. I think Tanguay is deathly afraid of being irrelevant. He’s already lost his two radio gigs, and there is enough competition over at CSNNE for him to be nervous about losing that gig as well. So he purposefully says things that will be unpopular in the area to keep his name out there. He’s like Felger light. He has fully subscribed to the idea that there is no such thing as bad publicity. I mean here we are talking about him. Not in a good way, but we’re talking about him.


        1. I always wondered if he was one of the people who took a pay cut when they started laying people off, like Dickerson.

          Also, he keeps claiming the ratings are good for his little show. I’d love to see them someday (Chad Finn?).


  5. Seems like the obvious, and easy solution, would be for the NFL to just reverse the 2006 rule change that allowed visiting teams to supply their own balls. Make both teams use the same balls, let the Refs control them. No one would even care how inflated or deflated the balls are, just as we never cared in the past. Clearly the NFL is actually quite happy letting QBs doctor their own balls to provide better offense, and loves pseudo scandals that distract everyone from more disturbing issues. The NFL is slowly becoming more and more like pro-wrestling.


  6. Talk Radio Caller of the week award goes out to the guy that called MFB today in order to complain that Henry Owens has been a prospect for too long.

    Yep, the pitcher that is 23 years old and is both on the verge of finishing his FIRST full season at AAA and possibly being traded or called up to the big (shitty) club has been a prospect for TOO much time. We have the best hosts and callers in the country!


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