On Sunday, Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer broke the news that the New York Giants tested the air pressure inside two Pittsburgh Steelers footballs that had been obtained via turnover. According to Glazer, the Giants found that the Steelers footballs were below the permitted range according to the rulebook.
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio added to the report after a conversation with a source “with knowledge of the situation,” noting that “one ball was measured at 11.4 PSI and the other ball was measured at 11.8 PSI.”
According to the NFL rulebook, footballs are expected to be between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI.
Remember that the Patriots footballs averaged either 11.1 or 11.5 PSI in the AFC Championship Game, when the Wells Report acknowledged “the Patriots balls should have measured between 11.52 and 11.32 psi at the end of the first half,” due to the effect of the colder temperature.
The Steelers-Giants game was roughly ten degrees colder than the Patriots-Colts game, but the Steelers didn’t have to deal with rain which is worth between 0.1-0.2 PSI according to Exponent’s figures. The NFL claims that the footballs weren’t jeopardized, so the reported PSI below the 12.5 limit is what happens in every cold weather football game.
MMQB’s Peter King believes that Exponent’s work shows, “if the Steeler footballs were at 12.5 psi at 2:10 p.m., they could have been justified to measure at 11.40 and 11.85 at 6:30 p.m..”
I don’t know about King’s work, but it’s clear that if the Steelers footballs were between 12.5 PSI and 13.0 PSI at time of initial measurement, then 11.4 PSI and 11.8 PSI is the range where the Steelers footballs are expected to measure. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger says that he has “no idea” about the pressure of his footballs, so this is in play.
Regardless, we’ll never find out. The NFL has hand-waved the problem with a short statement saying that the Giants didn’t file an official complaint. The league, of course, cannot investigate the Steelers footballs without acknowledging that the entire investigation, suspension of QB Tom Brady, and loss of draft picks was based on nothing.
It also doesn’t help that the Rooneys, who own the Steelers, and the Maras, who own the Giants, are great friends, with a marriage between the two families, and would never put the other owner in harm's way. We’ve covered how the NFL owners saw DeflateGate as a chance to get at Patriots owner Robert Kraft after a new money owner, old money owner feud led the Rams to move to Los Angeles. The Mara-Rooney dynamic is just further evidence that DeflateGate probably wouldn’t have existed had the other owners not pushed Roger Goodell for maximum punishment.
Whatever comes from this non-investigation into the Steelers- I wouldn’t expect “vindication”- Patriots fans have a right to be miffed about the lack of attention and action surrounding the story.