Things I never thought I would hear at a Bill Belichick press conference: “Now, we all know that air pressure is a function of the atmospheric conditions . . . ” and “I would not say that I’m Mona Lisa Vito of the football world, as she was in the car expertise area, all right?”
But unusual times call for unusual measures and measurements, so Bill Belichick the Science Guy broke it all down Saturday in an unscheduled press conference, making an impassioned, entirely plausible and convincing case for why Deflategate is just a bunch of hot air.
Instead of PI (pass interference) he talked about PSI (pounds per square inch). Instead of third-down efficiency he talked about footballs reaching their true equilibrium. Sick of both his and his team’s reputation being impugned, Belichick turned forensic football scientist and turned the pressure up on the NFL to validate its case.
Belichick’s science fare revealed the Patriots conducted a study that explained why without tampering the NFL would have found footballs at halftime of the AFC Championship game last Sunday that were below league specifications (12.5 to 13.5 PSI) after testing within those specifications before the game.
Belichick also said the Patriots tried to have quarterbacks Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo discern the difference in balls that lost one PSI, and they couldn’t do it. (At two PSI, they had some luck.) This ostensibly would dispel the notion that Brady should have been able to feel the difference.
Your move, NFL. Belichick just blinded you with science.
This was Belichick being Belichick, armed with all the answers and a clear game plan.
It was a far cry from Thursday, when he knew nothing about the footballs and passed questions on to Brady.
His Hoodiness said he’s not a scientist. But he must have stayed at a Holiday Inn last night.
He expertly detailed how the Patriots duplicated their routine for preparing balls for game day and then measured the pressure changes.
The Patriots’ findings showed that the process they used to prepare footballs to Brady’s liking artificially raised the ball’s pressure by one pound per square inch. So, it would register as 12.5 PSI, when it was really 11.5 PSI.
I’ll let Professor Belichick take it from here.
“We found that once the footballs were on the field over an extended period of time, in other words, they were adjusted to the climatic conditions and also the fact that the footballs reached an equilibrium without the rubbing process, that after that had run its course that they were down approximately 1½ pounds per square inch,” said Belichick.
“When we brought the footballs back in after that process and re-tested them in a controlled environment, then those measurements rose approximately one half pound per square inch. So, the net of 1½, back to a half, is approximately one pound per square inch.”
“Now, we all know that air pressure is a function of the atmospheric conditions. If there is activity in the ball relative to the rubbing process I think that explains why when we gave them to the officials and the officials put them at let’s say 12.5 . . . once the ball reached its equilibrium state it’s probably closer to 11.5.”
Got it? Basically, the Patriots are saying they did nothing wrong. Nature took its course.
If the ESPN report about 11 of 12 Patriots game balls being two PSI below the legal limit of 12.5 is true, then Belichick’s math explains it.
The Patriots balls that were approved pregame at 12.5 PSI were really 11.5 and then dropped again during the game because of atmospheric conditions.
All the physics teachers who tweeted and e-mailed over the last few days can take a victory lap. But please log the circumference of said victory lap.
The problem for the Patriots outside of this region is that the climatic condition of mistrust surrounding the team remains, thanks to Spygate. Patriots-haters will still believe the team bends the rules like a wire hanger, so no explanation, even Belichick’s scientifically-backed one, is going to convince them otherwise.
For everyone else, Belichick’s unscheduled science lesson was a revelation.
Belichick didn’t use the word “innocent” once, but he didn’t have to. The football findings in Foxborough made it clear that was the message he was delivering in advance of Super Bowl XLIX and the media circus maximus awaiting the team in Arizona.
“At no time was there any intent whatsoever to try to compromise the integrity of the game or to try to gain an advantage, quite the opposite,” said Belichick. “We feel like we followed the rules of the game to the letter in our preparations, in our procedures, and in the way that we handled every game that we’ve competitively played in as it relates to this matter.
“We try to do everything right. We err on the side of caution. It’s been that way for many years. Anything that is close we stay as far away from the line as we can.”
Whatever the pressure was in the deflated footballs, there is greater pressure on the league to get to the bottom of Deflategate.
Belichick just turned up the heat on the folks at 345 Park Avenue, who have had a losing season with controversies.
It’s a he-said, he-said.
The Patriots tampered with footballs or the NFL trumped up an investigation over naturally occurring deflation it should have accounted for itself.
There will be no elegant, face-saving solution. Someone’s reputation is taking a hit.
This whole controversy, unlike the footballs, seems a bit overblown, considering the negligible effect it had on the Patriots’ 45-7 victory over Indianapolis. The Patriots outscored the Colts, 28-0, in the second half, when the NFL says proper footballs were used.
Belichick said he was “embarrassed” to talk about the amount of time he had put into deflated footballs.
Join the club, Bill.
Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at email@example.com.