In light of the sustaining of New England Patriots signal-caller Tom Brady's four-game suspension by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Tuesday, let us introspectively explore what the NFL will now require of game officials concerning footballs on-site for games.
As confirmed by Mike Pereira of the FOX Sports universe (for those who don't know who he is, he's the officiating analyst FOX uses on all NFL broadcasts and select FOX Sports 1 college football broadcasts) changes are forthcoming as to how footballs will be used and governed.
Here are some important pieces of information, per Pereira, that revolve around the use of footballs at games in 2015:
•All teams in the NFL will be required to supply 24 football to the officials' locker room, (12 primary and 12 “backup” footballs), two hours and 15 minutes prior to the game in question. Under the old NFL rule, the home team was required to submit 24 footballs prior to the game but the visitors only had to submit 12 footballs, which included an option to supply an additional 12 for use in outdoor stadiums.
•Additionally, the referee will designate two members of his crew to conduct a pregame inspection to ascertain that all footballs meet the required specifications, which still remain that inflation must be within 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. Previously, the referee was the sole judge for this process.
•Furthermore, the officials are to number the balls “1-12,” and last season, the balls were not numbered. The officials are to also measure the PSI and record that measurement corresponding to the numbered ball. Last season, this record was not kept.
•Finally, any game ball within the allowable PSI range will be approved and the PSI level will not be altered in any way. Any game ball determined to be over 13.5 PSI or under 12.5 PSI will either be deflated or inflated to get to the proper level. Again, last season, no such adjustments were made at any time during the season.
•Additionally, the same procedure will be followed concerning the backup set of game balls for each team.
•As for kicking balls, last season, each NFL game had a kicking ball coordinator hired by the league who has been primarily responsible for the six kicking balls. In 2015, they will take custody of the balls as soon as their approval has occurred, until 10 minutes prior to kickoff of every game.
•At this point (the 10 minutes prior), 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 are to 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 they are required.
•In 2014, 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.
•At designated games, randomly selected 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.
• At the half, balls from both teams will be inspected with the PSI results to be measured and recorded by two designated crew members, the two who inspected them during the pregame. Once they are measured, those game balls will be secured by the security representative and removed from play. The backup balls will be used in the second half at that point.
•At the end of these aforementioned randomly selected games, the KBC is to return the footballs to the officials' locker room, where all game balls are to be inspected and results recorded.
•All information concerning the game balls is to be included in the referee's report to the league office.
In his article, Pereira goes on from this point to denounce how ludicrous he feels this is on the NFL's part but it's obvious that Brady, who has been found guilty in the league's eyes, has inadvertently expedited a paradigm shift.
Many love to bash Roger Goodell,—perhaps some who will read this article—but it cannot be said in good faith that he does not have the league's best interests in mind. Overall, I do believe him to be a commissioner who wants what is best for the league.
Beyond this, Goodell and the NFL hierarchy, all work for the owners so think of this as being Pat Bowlen's will, done as declared by Goodell's lips. It is often better to take every possible precaution than to not make any adjustments, once something bad strikes.
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