Jim Miller spent a year in New England backing up Tom Brady. (Brian Bahr/Getty Images)
Former Patriots backup quarterback Jim Miller spoke with the It Is What It Is podcast this week and recalled how he used to break in game balls with Tom Brady.
Miller, who was on the New England roster in 2004 with Brady, said the process was a simple one: Each team would get two dozen footballs issued to them, and the quarterback would be allowed to break them in as they saw fit. Miller and Brady were of like mind when it came to the preferred state of their footballs.
“At the end of the week, when they would get a little scuffed up, you’d go through and pick out the footballs that you’d like to throw with on Sundays,” he said. “I was like Tom — I’d like mine on the lower level of inflation. To me, it’s just how the ball feels in your hands. It’s the texture of it. You want a certain way.
He added: “We would pick out the footballs. I’d say, ‘Hey Tom, is is a great one. Tell me how it feels.’ He’d say, ‘Yeah, put that one in the pile, Jim.’ That’s what we would do. And then, as the season goes along, some of those footballs get taken out of circulation — let’s say 10 out of those 24 — and you’d break in 10 more than would be introduced into the population. But always, you’d always want them on the lower level of inflation.”
While the rules around pregame treatment of the footballs have since been changed since 2004 — Brady and Peyton Manning pushed through a rule more than a decade ago to make things easier for quarterbacks when it came to picking out game balls — Miller said that for a quarterback, it’s all about comfort and confidence.
“There’s always going to be certain preferences,” said Miller, who was in the league from 1994 until 2005. “[Quarterbacks] want to be confident on game day.”
Miller, who said the league has “botched [Deflategate] from the very beginning,” hopes Brady will be cleared sooner rather than later.
“I hope so,” said Miller, who is currently a co-host of “Movin’ the Chains on Sirius XM. “I don’t think he did anything disingenuous with the footballs. I don’t think it had any bearing on that AFC championship game whatsoever.
“When you’ve got league officials who have been in the league — Walt Anderson, he’s been in the league, he has 19 years of experience. And he’s losing the footballs the day of the game. Not following the proper protocol,” he added. “Then you have the NFL this past year doing their own investigation where they are [looking at] certain games and inspecting the PSI levels of certain footballs and not releasing that information. In terms of the integrity of the game, I just think the NFL really comes out with a little bit of egg on their face because it’s made them look extremely poor.”
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