Readings — From the September 2015 issue

Questionable Ball

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From an investigative report commissioned by the National Football League and released in May. The league hired Exponent, an engineering-consulting company, to determine whether footballs used by the New England Patriots during the American Football Conference Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts, on January 18, 2015, were intentionally deflated below the NFL’s pressure standards.

May 6, 2015

Subject: Ball-Deflation Timing Investigation

Exponent Project No. 1500736.000

experimental procedure

Thirteen exemplar footballs of known initial pressure were placed into an equipment bag believed to be similar, if not identical, to the bag used by the Patriots on the day of the AFC Championship Game. An individual carried the bag into an enclosed room that measured 76 inches by 98 inches. The door used to ingress/egress the room opened inward, with a latching lever. Once inside, the subject, who had possession of a standard inflation needle, closed the door and attempted to insert the needle into all thirteen balls in as short a time as possible. After partially deflating all thirteen balls, the subject rezipped the bag and exited the room. Three subjects independently performed the above procedure.

conclusions

With minimal training (a single practice run), it is possible for an individual using a standard sports-ball inflation needle to perform the following in approximately 60–70 seconds: open a door and enter a room, close the door, open a zippered bag containing thirteen footballs, insert the needle into all footballs — releasing a small amount of air from each — close and zip the bag containing the footballs, and leave, closing the door behind.

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