Former NFL referee Gerry Austin was a guest on ESPN Radio’s “Mike & Mike Show” and made it clear that he believes somebody from the New England Patriots intentionally deflated the game balls they used on offence during their AFC Championship game win over the Indianapolis Colts.
When asked about how the balls could have become deflated, he said he was convinced there was only one way that could happen.
“My understanding is, all 12 balls were under the 13 pounds (PSI limit*),” Austin told the show. “But 11 of them were more than two pounds under the 13 pounds. And I take away from that somebody has let some air out of the balls.”
Austin also debunked the common explanation that the pressure in the balls was lower because of the cold air.
“Both team’s balls were brought in at halftime to my understanding and all 24 balls were checked,” said Austin. “The Colts balls were still up to 13 pounds and the Patriots balls were not.”
Austin also said he had never seen a situation like this as an official, noting that he had never been in a situation where he or his crew were asked to remeasure the pressure in balls after the game started.
Fox’s officiating expert Mike Pereira said something similar on Wednesday. Here’s how he described what he believes happened to the balls:
“[The balls] leave the locker room before the game. They go into the hands of the ball boys, and the extra balls are put at the replay monitor where there’s a guard standing by that monitor. Well somebody got to somebody and took a couple of pounds out of the balls.”
We still don’t know if or how the Patriots will be punished.
* The balls are allowed a half-pound margin of error, so the actual requirement is 12.5-13.5 PSI.
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