PHOENIX — Following a 20-minute press conference inside the Phoenix Convention Center Thursday, the NFL’s director of officiating acknowledged that likely changes are coming in the way NFL officials check in game balls before every contest.

At the heart of the Deflategate controversy is how the Patriots game balls were handled prior to the AFC championship game against the Colts by referee Walt Anderson. Questions have arisen as to whether every ball was checked to be between the required 12.5 and 13.5 PSI before being approved for use in the game. Dean Blandino attempted to clarify the rules and clear his officials of any wrongdoing.

“Walt did it himself. Walt gauged the footballs himself,” Blandino said. “That’s something that he’s done throughout his career.”

Did Blandino and the league simply take ref at his word? “Yes,” Blandino said. “There were balls from both teams that were tested but with the investigation going on, I can’t get into specifics.

“They’re not logged and that’s certainly something that could be a thought. They’re tested, they make sure that they’re in that acceptable range and then they basically mark the football to say this is an acceptable football in that proper specification.

“Whatever it is, if it’s in that acceptable range, we leave it where it is. It’s only when it’s either above or below that we have to get it in that acceptable range. We’re confident proper protocols were followed.”

In other words, there’s no specific PSI record of each individual ball.

Who does the measuring?

“It’s either the referee or someone he delegates that job to,” Blandino said. “They’re responsible for gauging all the footballs but the referee himself will inspect every football and then put his mark on the football.”

Much was made of the NFL reportedly coming up with a video of a ball boy going into a bathroom with the balls. Would the NFL install security cameras in officials rooms to make sure all footballs stay undoctored?

“I’m sure everything is on the table,” Blandino told “With the amount of attention this has gotten, the committee is going to review it and we’ll see. We’ll see what we come up with.

“Normally, they’re taken out of circulation and sent back to the league office. They’re sent back to the league office and then sent to Wilson to determine, ‘Was this sent this way?’ ‘Was air taken out’ so you go through that process.”
“Committee will review all the processes and protocols and make a recommendation.”

At halftime of the AFC championship game, the underinflated balls were pumped up and put back into play.

“It’s an electric pump that is used in the locker room. What the officials will do, if the ball is within the acceptable range, they don’t touch it. They don’t put air in. They don’t take air out.”

Might the NFL let teams handle balls however they want to help offense?

“I think that’s a question for the competition committee,” Blandino said. “They’re going to review that. I think a lot of the rules that were in place were because footballs were being manipulated in some way. It really revolved around the K-Balls. That’s where we saw it the most, over inflating the balls to gain more lift and get more hang-time, and that’s why we went to the K-Balls. I don’t know what the committee is going to recommend but we’ll be part of the conversation.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Dont'a Hightower

Dont’a Hightower

CHANDLER, Ariz — Not only are Alabama head coach Nick Saban and Bill Belichick close friends, they also have very similar coaching styles — serious, intelligent, and very successful.

Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower has played for both coaches, as he played for Saban at Alabama from 2008-2011 and won two BCS National Championships and then now has played three seasons for Belichick in New England.

“I literally think that they’€™re exactly the same,” Hightower said. “From the way that they run their meetings to the way that we run practice, just the way they address the team. You can definitely tell that Nick learned something from Bill whenever they were at Cleveland and I mean they’€™re still pretty close friends. So, I can only imagine how much more they’€™re alike than what I think. I literally think they are two peas in a pod.”

Hightower said Saban didn’t offer him much advice about playing for Belichick, but the lessons he learned at Alabama paid off.

“I mean just good luck and just do everything that I did when I was at ‘€˜Bama,’€™ (University of Alabama) which was just be a sponge, find an older guy and just to tailpipe him,” said Hightower. “I followed [linebacker Jerod] Mayo. I did whatever Mayo did and I feel like I went about it the right way.”

Playing in two National Championship games at Alabama, Hightower is used to playing in big games and he expects the same from his teammates come Sunday night.

“I hope so, it’€™s the damn Super Bowl,” he said.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Danny Amendola and the rest of the Patriots will have to get used to the relatively unfamiliar surroundings at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Danny Amendola and the rest of the Patriots will have to get used to the relatively unfamiliar surroundings at University of Phoenix Stadium. (Elsa/Getty Images)

CHANDLER, Ariz. — Super Bowl XLIX will mark the first game at University of Phoenix Stadium for several members of the Patriots — it’s the first game for the franchise at the venue since Super Bowl XLII, seven years ago On the flip side, because it’s the home of the Cardinals, the Seahawks make an annual visit to the facility, as they’re NFC West rivals with Arizona.

Does that mean the Seahawks have an advantage because they might be more familiar with the surroundings? Patriots wide receiver Danny Amendola — who played in the building every year for four seasons when he was with the Rams — said that it’s “something [he’s] thought about.”

“I got real used to coming here and playing,” Amendola said Thursday. “I talked to some of my teammates that haven’t been here, haven’t played here. I don’t think that’s an issue just because the fields are the same size, really. This stadium kind of resembles Wembley Stadium. It’s a bigger stadium, indoors. It’s going to be good conditions with the grass, with the roof, with whatever it may be. But I think we’ll be all right.”

“We’ll treat it just like any other away game,” said defensive lineman Vince Wilfork. “Being able to go see the clocks — where the play-clock is, scoreboards, you name it. And I think guys will take advantage of that. Especially being the Super Bowl, I think you have a lot more guys out there just seeing the whole setup of the Super Bowl, which they should so they won’t get blindsided when they take the field for the first time.”

“We deal with that every year — we go to stadiums that we don’t play at very often all the time,” said kicker Stephen Gostkowski. “There are only a few stadiums we play at every year. You just show up, you find out the conditions that day, and you kick. We practice all the time in so many different conditions. There are only so many different conditions that you can get — weather, turf and wind. No one gets more different weathers and climates and field conditions than we do in New England. It’s hot, it’s cold, it’s windy. You get it all, so you just deal with it. That’s why we’re professionals. We deal with that stuff and I really don’t think too much about it. I have a plan going in and go for it.”

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

PHOENIX — Marshawn Lynch‘s one-liner’s have been a major theme this week and Katy Perry got involved as well.

The singer held a press conference Thursday to promote her halftime performance during Sunday’s Super Bowl game.

One of the questions asked was if she had her eye on anyone this week.

She replied, “I’m just here so I don’t get fined,” —  just like Lynch did at media day.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Scott Hanson talks about his amazing job as host of NFL Red Zone. Plus Hanson previews the Super Bowl.

[0:03:41] ... smartest at ease the smartest quarterback in league history. In league history. Peyton Manning priests now but nobody talks about post now apple snap in to play. I've never seen a player doesn't that ever. He's ...
[0:04:48] ... especially offensively. When we when we were talking about this matchup with Heath Evans earlier he said Vince Wilfork almost passed medium VP of this game. But it Vince stymie the middle of the defensive line obviously with Marshawn Lynch and ...
[0:08:10] ... to legal income. There's gonna hide from us that it did today Drew Brees comes on my show he was probably he was doing. Olds old spice it appeared a hundred grand. To do twelve minutes ...

Former Patriot Heath Evans breaks down some of the matchups we are looking forward to at the Super Bowl.

[0:00:01] ... Dale and Holley back Tehran radio row Heath Evans is a former New England patriot of course but now you know him as an NFL network analyst you can see heat ...
[0:04:10] ... when you get in. Offensive. Personnel groups that allow them to get Michael Bennett inside it could afford to April. Outside than Bruce Irvin and they get older speed package of their. It's just not fair you're you're asking. You know. Ryan Wynn built to to match up was so when that's twice the athlete is you know and then you give him in space and you watch. The way Pete in Dan Quinn deeper escorted or manipulate. Their rush lanes to create space for the guards were Michael Bennett's one on one it's very similar what Justin Tuck was able to do us back here in Arizona to rule 42 so. I look at the aspect of what you have ...
[0:10:55] ... the speed the windows to throw in the clothes so fast. And Aaron Rodgers found an offer stand last week you know we had two interceptions in the first. Quarter and half of the game and I know he was. The mobile to a stiff but. We still probably the most lively arm in football. But one of the sharpest minds as well in the defense would be the bumper. Heath Evans is a former patriots fullback the World Series as well and an NFL network analyst. Fund visibly and more importantly it's fun ...

Troy Brown talks about the cry babies who keep complaining about the Patriots and accuse them of cheating.

[0:00:00] ... This is Troy Brown of the New England Patriots. Lady met with Napoli dropped fired from the. It's what we're. I'll fake field goal over breakfast ...
[0:01:10] ... well in my I would have for me so we'll get what David Tyree. You know you walk around in it. He beat you one fairly yet because I'd. If it was a it was a ...
[0:05:02] ... Over Seattle. By. The south of the ball. I asked. I ask Tedy Bruschi this question on Monday outlast Troy Brown here on Thursday the exact same question. Setting aside spike it because the patriots got punished for that if you ever known ...
[0:06:55] ... really deflated me if you. That's an epic about. That deal mention Tedy Bruschi and he's on a panel the other day with with Ray Lewis. And Ray Lewis is basically tried to say that everything you guys accomplished is is a fraud what would you do when you are the presence of some guy. With me tomorrow elusive best known zones there and again that Ray Lewis that was is illegal you know I mean heavy so I think there's some guidance as to just be quiet. And it's ...

Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett

Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett

PHOENIX ‘€“ Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett unloaded on what he considers the rampant hypocrisy of the NCAA, the NFL, and commissioner Roger Goodell on Thursday.

Known as a player unafraid to speak his mind, Bennett didn’t hold back on the subjects of paying college players, the long-term health impact of playing in the NFL, and his belief that Goodell is wildly overpaid.

Start with college. Bennett graduated from Texas A&M and finds it distasteful that colleges rake in the cash while athletes get nothing.

“And to say you only get a degree?” he said. “I think the NCAA should come up with some kind of plan for college athletes to receive some of the money they bring in to the school. I think my school, Texas A&M, averaged $50 million just on jersey sales. There’s ticket sales. Think about all of the things they sell. They sell numbers of guys that don’t have names on the back of their jerseys. But we all know who No. 2 is from College Station and that would be Johnny Manziel. He made so much money for the university, but the players don’t see any of it.”

Bennett thinks college players should have a certain amount of money placed in a 401k for each year they remain in college ‘€“ “maybe $60,000,” he said ‘€“ and the players can get access to the money after they graduate.

“That gives you a chance to do something special in life,” he said.

The way it work now, students-athletes are viewed as little more than disposable employees.

“You give so much to these schools and they just move on,” he said. “And of course (Michigan) can pay Jim Harbaugh $48 million, because they don’t have to pay any of the athletes. The athletes are the ones who make the schools, not the coaches. If Nick Saban doesn’t have those athletes that he has, if he doesn’t have those 5-star recruits, can you still be Alabama? The coaches don’t really matter, but the coaches are so egotistical in college, it’s actually amazing to me that so many of those guys think they’re the ones that are doing it. It’s really the players and they don’t get their just do.”

A lot of Bennett’s feelings apply to the NFL, particularly Goodell. He sees former players struggling and fears that will one day be him.

“Then you see a guy like Roger Goodell making $40, $50 million and he hasn’t even broken a sweat in this league,” Bennett said. “He’s the one getting all the money, and it’s just sad to see how human beings could be so greedy and so cruel to each other. And for him to say, ‘Well, you get a chance to play in the NFL,’ but there’s another side of things.

“It’s like being in the Army. Yeah, you get to be in the Army, yeah you get to go to college for free and yeah, you get to fight for your country, but when you come back and your leg is amputated or in the NFL you have CTE, and your family is just looking at you, was it really worth it? Is it worth it when you’re looking at your kids and dying at a young age? I don’t know. That’s a hard thing to weigh out.”

Bennett considers the NFL’s powers that be disingenuous.

“I doubt Roger Goodell would let his kids play in the NFL,” he said. “I don’t think any of the owners would let any of their kids play in the NFL, just like the people in the White House or the House of Representatives, I doubt any of them would let their kids be in the Army.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase
Brandon Browner

Brandon Browner

CHANDLER, Ariz. — Earlier in the week during an interview with ESPN, Brandon Browner said he told teammates to hit Richard Sherman‘s injured elbow.

Things took off from there and the comment has been a major topic of conversation this week. Browner clarified on Thursday that was not his intent to turn into a huge thing, and Sherman as well as his other former Seahawk teammates would not take offense to the comment.

“[I didn’€™t expect it to] blow up the way it did, but at the end of the day I don’€™t regret anything I said because those guys know where I am coming from,” Browner said. “It is about winning the championship. We play a violent game. We play football. It is not like we play water polo or swimming or anything like that. It is a physical game and we want to be as physical with those guys as we can.”

Having spent three seasons in Seattle and being a member of the Legion of Boom secondary, Browner is still close to his former teammates.

“Off the field those are still my brothers,” Browner said. “On the field my brothers are the guys I go to work with every day, guys that put their life on the line for me on Sunday’s. Those are the guys that I am meshing with at this point. Come offseason, those guys will be my friends again.”

Having spent three seasons with the Seahawks, there was a thought of maybe he could help with the game plan and pass on some knowledge from his time there. Browner said Bill Belichick didn’t ask him for any help.

“No, that is Belichick. He is going to cover all corners,” he said. “That is why he is one of the best coaches in this league. I tried to help the guys as I could, but it seemed like Belichick had the guys down pat.”

Belichick and Seattle coach Pete Carroll have both been extremely successful, but do it in very different ways — Carroll, much more outgoing compared to Belichick’s serious tone all the time. Browner has a unique perspective of playing for them both, and called them the two best coaches in the league.

“Bill is old school, what I grew up on, running after practices. Playing in Seattle, it was a little more loose around there. We would shoot hoops in the meeting room before the meeting would start. On the way to meetings you would hear your favorite music blasting in the hallways. It is two different coaching styles, but at the end of the day they are both, I think, the best in the league.”

Despite his connection with Seattle and it being the Super Bowl, Browner says he is just treating it like a regular game, just with higher stakes.

“I think it is like a regular game,” said Browner. “The outcome and the ramifications are a lot bigger. You can be the champion of the 2014-2015 season, but at the end of the day it is still football. To me, I hope me and my guys treat it like just a glorified practice, just go out there and do what we are expected to do. [We need to] do what we have been doing every day of every week all season long.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady acknowledged his childhood idol Joe Montana — and the fact that Super Bowl XLIX is just around the corner — with a Facebook post Thursday morning.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price