SAN FRANCISCO — All that data the NFL acquired this year to monitor the PSI of footballs? Apparently the league has no interest in sharing the results or determining whether the Patriots’ footballs deflated naturally.
Even though the NFL instituted new rules to test the PSI of footballs before, during, and after random games in the wake of the Patriots’ Deflategate scandal, and even though the NFL required officials to log all PSI data, commissioner Roger Goodell told the NFL Network Tuesday that the league didn’t collect the data to determine the effects of weather and temperature on ball inflation.
“What the league did this year was what we do with a lot of rules and policies designed to protect the integrity of the game, and that’s to create a deterrent effect,” Goodell said on “The Rich Eisen Show,” a day before heading out to San Francisco to partake in the Super Bowl 50 festivities.
“We do spot checks to prevent and make sure the clubs understand that we’re watching these issues. It wasn’t a research study. They simply were spot checks.”
Goodell docked the Patriots a first- and fourth-round pick, fined the team a total of $1 million, and attempted to suspend Tom Brady for four games for the Patriots’ alleged ball-deflation scheme in last year’s AFC Championship game. Brady and the NFL Players Association sued the NFL in federal court over the suspension, and the penalty was vacated, allowing Brady to play every game this season. The NFL immediately filed an appeal, and the two sides are due back in appeals court in March.
The Patriots’ footballs were discovered during halftime to be about 1 PSI below the legal limit of 12.5, but key NFL executives, most notably executive vice president Troy Vincent, acknowledged that they did not understand the Ideal Gas Law and the effects of cold weather on ball pressure until several days after the scandal had exploded.
Dozens of scientific experiments later concluded that eight of the Patriots’ 11 footballs were within the expected PSI range after accounting for the Ideal Gas Law, and the other three footballs were only a fraction under the expected limit. The Patriots staunchly maintained their innocence on a website they called “the Wells Report in Context.”
But the findings did not stop Goodell from punishing the Patriots and Brady and from the NFL instituting several new safeguards:
■ The NFL designated random games in which to test the football PSI at halftime and after the game. The kicking ball coordinator collected the footballs from both teams at halftime, was escorted to the locker room by the league’s security personnel, measured and recorded the PSI of all 24 footballs, removed the footballs from play, and introduced 24 backup footballs for the second half.
■ Before the game, the referee designated two members of the officiating crew to inspect the balls. The officials numbered the balls 1-12, and recorded all PSI data. Previously, the balls were not numbered, the data were not recorded, and only one member of the officiating crew inspected the footballs.
■ At the end of each randomly selected game, the kicking ball coordinator again inspected all game balls from each team and recorded the results. Recorded information was supposed to be reported back to the league office.
The NFL has declined to comment all season on how many games were randomly selected for this new ball-testing procedures, and what the results were. At least one Patriots game was selected — their Dec. 20 home game against the Titans.
On Tuesday, Goodell said there were no violations this season, but declined to provide further detail.
“We’re pleased that we haven’t had any violations,” he said, “and we continue the work, obviously, to consistently and importantly enforce the integrity of the game and the rules that are designed to protect it.”
Goodell also was asked if he has had any contact with Brady since they last met in court on Sept. 3.
“My first obligation . . . is to uphold the integrity of the game,” Goodell said. “That’s to uphold the rules of the game and make sure all 32 teams are operating under the same rules, all players are operating under the same rules.
“I have great admiration for Tom. I know him personally. Obviously I respect his playing ability — he’s an extraordinary player, a sure Hall of Famer, and I have nothing but admiration for him.
“But I have to make sure that we continue to do the things that are necessary to protect the integrity of the game and I will do that without compromise.”
Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin.