Tom Brady makes a throw during the AFC championship against the Colts. (Getty Images)
The NFL has finally decided something as a result of Deflategate. No, it’s not the decision on Tom Brady‘s appeal of his four-game suspension.
According to former NFL official Mike Pereira and current FOX Sports NFL contributor, the NFL told its officials this weekend that there will be new procedures for the 2015 season regarding how footballs will be prepared and monitored.
The league will now regulate the number of footballs prepared, random testing and changes in the oversight of the footballs once they’ve been checked by officials. According to Pereira, there’s no change in the game-ready properties of the football, meaning they will still be legal in a range from 12.5 to 13.5 pounds per square inch (PSI).
All game ball information will be included in the referee’s report to the league office.
According to Pereira, here are some of the significant changes for the 2015 NFL season:
Any game ball within the allowable range of 12.5 to 13.5 PSI will be approved and the PSI level will not be altered. Any game ball determined to be over 13.5 PSI or under 12.5 PSI will either be deflated or inflated to 13.0 PSI. Last year, there was no specific measurement of 13.0 required if an adjustment had to be made.
Each team will be required to supply 24 footballs to the officials locker room – 12 primary and 12 backup — 2 hours and 15 minutes prior to the game. Last season, the home team had to submit 24 footballs prior to the game, but the visitors only had to submit 12 footballs with an option to supply an additional 12 for use in outdoor stadiums.
The referee will designate two members of his crew to conduct a pregame inspection to make sure all footballs meet the required specifications. Last season, the referee was the sole judge.
The officials will number the balls 1-12. Last season, the balls were not numbered.
The officials will measure the PSI and record that measurement corresponding to the numbered ball. Last season, no such record was kept.
Pereira reports the same procedure will be followed with respect to the backup set of game balls for each team. Each NFL game last season had a kicking ball coordinator, hired by the league, who has been primarily responsible for the six kicking balls. They will now take custody of all the balls once they’ve been approved until 10 minutes prior to kickoff.
At that point, the kicking ball coordinator, along with a member of the officiating crew and a security representative, will bring the footballs to the on-field replay station. Upon arrival, the game balls will be distributed to each team’s ball crew in the presence of the league security representative. The backup balls will remain secured in the officials’ locker room until needed.
It was during the pre-game period of the AFC championship on Jan. 18 at Gillette Stadium that the NFL, via the Wells Report, believes the balls were altered. Last season, the league’s security representative was not a part of the total process and the kicking ball coordinator was not specifically assigned to be with the footballs the entire time.
During halftime, the balls from both teams will be inspected and the PSI results will be measured and recorded by the two designated members of the crew who inspected them during the pregame. Once measured, those game balls will then be secured by the security representative and removed from play. The backup balls will then be used for the second half.
At designated games, selected at random, the game balls used in the first half, will be collected by the kicking ball coordinator (KBC) at halftime and the league’s security representative will escort the KBC to the locker room. Also, at the end of any randomly selected game, the KBC will return the footballs to the officials’ locker room, where all game balls from each team will be inspected and the results will be recorded.