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DeflateGate: Everything You Need to Know

There is a lot of misinformation about DeflateGate. Let's set it straight.

Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

There has been a lot of misinformation surrounding this whole DeflateGate situation, so it's in the best interest of everyone that we compile all of the facts and point out the conjecture and have a Q&A section. Hopefully this will be the last post needed for a while.


What is DeflateGate? DeflateGate is the scandal surrounding the New England Patriots having their footballs under-inflated in the first half of the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

How did it start? Soon after the game, Bob Kravitz, a Colts reports, tweeted that NFL was investigating the Patriots usage of under-inflated footballs. The NFL confirmed that they were investigating the Patriots four days after the game, but that they had passed no judgment on guilt or fault.

How under-inflated were the footballs? No one knows. The rules state the footballs need to be inflated to 12.5 to 13.5 pounds per square inch (PSI) of pressure when the referees measure them 2 hours and 15 minutes prior to the game. The NFL confirmed that "evidence supports" that the footballs were below the minimum 12.5 PSI threshold during the first half.

How allegedly under-inflated were the footballs? ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported that 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were 2 PSI below the limit, but this has not been confirmed by any entity. It should also be noted that his number is rounded, while the rule book uses decimal places (significant figures), which means Mort's numbers aren't exact.

1/25 Edit: Pro Football Talk is reporting that 10 of the Patriots footballs were actually closer to 1.0 PSI below the limit, which aligns with Belichick's internal study.

Did the officials do their job before the game? This is undetermined, but the league has stated that the officials confirm they did their job prior to the game. The investigation will confirm if they actually did. The Patriots directed the referees to inflate the footballs to 12.5 PSI, according to Bill Belichick's findings and stated during his Saturday press conference.

How did the Patriots footballs get caught under the PSI threshold? Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw an interception in the first half to Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jacksonwho handed the football to the Colts equipment manager for safe keeping. Jackson did not initiate the investigation. The Colts equipment manager determined the football was under-inflated and noted Colts head coach Chuck Pagano. The dominoes fell until the officials measured the Patriots footballs at halftime.

Why would the Patriots want under-inflated footballs? Footballs with less pressure are easier to grip. As a result, it allows the quarterback more touch the ball. The decreased pressure also comes with decreased velocity, which means that the throws won't be as fast. All differences are marginal. It's a give-and-take.

When did the Patriots stop using the under-inflated footballs? Per Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, the Patriots started to use the Colts footballs in the second quarter. The officials re-inflated the Patriots footballs at halftime and New England finished the game with their own footballs.

How does PSI change based upon environment? Pressure is in relationship with temperature. Pressure decreases when measured in a colder environment. It will increase in a warmer environment. A football inflated to the minimum of 12.5 PSI will always fall below the threshold if taken into a colder environment.

How much does a football weight? 14-15 ounces, per the rule book. Less than one pound. A lot of misdirection out there by persons claiming the football weighed two pounds less, and that's factually incorrect. A change in pressure would result in a change in weight not noticeable by anyone.


These are the facts. If there are others, please post in the comments section and I'll update. Now we'll look at the post-incident details and commonly noted concerns.


What did the Patriots internal study determine? New England believes that a combination of pregame football preparation and temperature changes impacted the PSI of the footballs. Bill Belichick's staff claim they reenacted game preparation and environment in an internal study. They found that their preparation for improving the grip and texture of the of football increases the pressure the football by 1 PSI.

The Patriots put the footballs outside and found that the PSI had decreased by 1.5 PSI due to adjusting to the outside temperature. When the footballs were brought back inside and measured, the PSI increased by 0.5, for a net change of 1.0 PSI.

This is how the Patriots determined their pregame football preparation artificially changes the pressure by 1 PSI. As a result, when the Patriots asked the officials to inflate to 12.5 PSI, the pregame preparation adds 1 PSI to the ball. So the officials pressure meter reads 12.5 PSI, but in reality it's just 11.5 PSI once the pregame preparation stops affecting the pressure.

Did the Patriots prepare the footballs in a heated environment? Belichick says no.

How did no one notice the difference in football pressure? It should be noted that Belichick claims that the Patriots quarterbacks were tested to see if they could determine a change in football pressure. He claims the quarterbacks couldn't tell a difference in 1 PSI, and that they couldn't consistently determine a 2 PSI difference by feel.

What are the variables in determining football pressure? Pressure gauges are never exact and won't allow for a perfect reading. Additionally, all footballs are different (different lacing, different covers, different air bladders), so no two are the exact same.

Why did the Patriots footballs, that were reinflated at halftime, pass the pressure test at the end of the game? The Patriots pregame preparation no longer had an artificial affect on the inflation pressure, so if the ball was inflated to 12.5 PSI, it was actually inflated to 12.5.

Why did the Colts footballs pass the pressure tests? It is unknown how the Colts prepare their footballs or to what pressure they inflate. Any question relating to the Colts footballs cannot be answered since there is zero information around their process.

Okay, hypothetically, how could the Colts footballs pass the pressure tests? Their pregame football preparation could impact the pressure less than the Patriots' preparation. Or if their preparation matched the Patriots, the Colts could've inflated their footballs to 13.5 PSI and the 1.0 PSI artificial inflation would've dropped the ball to 12.5 PSI, still in the range. THIS IS ALL CONJECTURE AND NO ONE KNOWS ANYTHING ON THIS SUBJECT.

Why did anyone suspect the Patriots of deflating the footballs in the first place? Rumors date to the Patriots Week 11 game against the Colts, where the Colts apparently reported to the league after two Brady first half interceptions that the Patriots footballs felt under-inflated. Fox Sports' Jay Glazer reported that the Ravens tipped off the Colts after the Divisional Round game. The belief if that the league was going to measure the footballs at halftime regardless of the Colts report.

If the league expected the Patriots of deflating footballs, why didn't they warn the Patriots of their potential violation? No one knows. The league warned the Vikings and Panthers of potential rule-breaking when they were found warming footballs on the sidelines earlier this season. It is unknown if the Patriots were provided with a warning.

Regardless, the allowance of the Patriots to play the first half of the AFC Championship game with footballs under suspicion jeopardized the integrity of the game and the league. If the league truly thought the Patriots were in violation, they shouldn't have let them play the first half, nor should they have eliminated the best evidence possible by reinflating the footballs in violation (the Patriots had 12 back-up footballs).

Is it going to be possible to prove that the Patriots did, or didn't, do anything against the rules? Those who have acted out scientific studies have found that the Patriots story is plausible. The league will have to prove either that a) the Patriots deflated the footballs on the sideline; or b) knowingly artificially inflated the footballs in the pregame preparation by that 1.0 PSI.

If the study conducted by the league can't determine either of those possibilities, then the Patriots can't be held at fault.

If the Patriots are found at fault, what would be the penalty? Initial reports, supported by conjecture of executives at the Senior Bowl, were that the Patriots would be fined a draft pick, which would likely be a Day Two (2nd/3rd round) selection. However, since Bill Belichick and the organization have doubled down on their claims of innocence, it will likely increase their penalty if found in the wrong.

So if the Patriots say they didn't do it, and the officials say they did their due diligence prior to the game, then how did the footballs deflate? Simplest answer: the Patriots pregame preparation's artificial 1.0 PSI inflation. Once that wore off, the Patriots were 1.0 PSI below the limits at 11.5 PSI. The weather and temperature further reduced the pressure on the field.

None of this is against the rules. However, if the Patriots knowingly artificially inflated the footballs by 1.0 PSI, then it could be argued by the league that New England violated the spirit of the rule. This will have to be determined by the league's investigation and cannot be known at the current time.

How can the Patriots avoid this in the future? Have the league inflate to 13.5 PSI. The pregame preparation will wear off and the footballs will be at 12.5 PSI, within the limits.


If there are any other commonly asked questions, please post them in the comments and we'll add them. Please cite your sources for any additions.