It’s called football. Yet, until this week no one has paid much attention to the very object after which the game is named.
It all started when the New England Patriots were accused of deflating, or under-inflating, the footballs used on Sunday in the AFC Championship Game, a 45-7 blowout of the Indianapolis Colts.
The morning after the game, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was asked about the rumor on a Boston radio show and laughed it off. Patriots coach Bill Belichick, a stickler for details and a well-documented rule bender, expressed ‘shock’ and dismay about about Deflate-gate in a Thursday morning news conference.
Fans, even experts, didn’t seem to know much about the NFL rules regarding the football. Who knew that each team picked and used their own footballs?
Tom Brady knew.
In fact, he helped establish the rule.
For years the home team supplied the balls, and the two teams shared them. That all changed in 2006 when two quarterbacks lobbied the NFL to allow each team to ‘customize’ their own footballs. Brady and Peyton Manning, with the support of other league quarterbacks, convinced the NFL’s competition committee to allow the visiting team to supply their own footballs. The committee received no resistance and passed it.
“The thing is, every quarterback likes it a little bit different,” Brady told the Sun-Sentinel in 2006. “Some like them blown up a little bit more, some like them a little more thin, some like them a little more new, some like them really broken in.”
And, in Sunday’s AFC title game, someone liked it deflated.