RENTON — For what it’s worth, Seahawks QB Russell Wilson doesn’t care how much a football weighs. “As long as it has laces,” he said Wednesday. “I’m good to go.”
The New England Patriots apparently don’t have the same view.
Earlier this week, the NFL found that 11 of the 12 footballs used by New England’s offense in Sunday’s 45-7 AFC championship win over the Indianapolis Colts were deflated by an average of two pounds per square inch (PSI) below the league minimum, according to an ESPN report.
The Patriots face the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX Feb. 1, in Glendale AZ.
While the NFL continues its investigation, Seahawks players and coaches Wednesday downplayed the effect an under-inflated football, which in theory makes it easier to catch and throw, can have on a team’s offense.
“I’ve never heard of that and I’m not sure anything will come of it,” said Seahawks CB Richard Sherman. “If it’s true or if it’s not true, it didn’t have much effect on the game, if any. If it did, then whatever. If it’s against the rules, it’s against the rules.
“It’s not going to have any effect on this game. Nobody’s going to get suspended. Nothing’s going to happen. They are going to play this game. Whatever they did, the risk-reward was greater.”
The NFL has yet to announce New England’s punishment, but it could issue fines or penalize the Patriots in upcoming drafts. Speaking Tuesday on NBC Sports Radio, Troy Vincent, the league’s senior executive vice president of football operations, said the league plans to finish the investigation in the next two or three days.
The controversy began in Sunday’s first half when Colts LB D’Qwell Jackson intercepted a pass from Patriots QB Tom Brady. Sensing the ball didn’t meet NFL standards, Jackson notified the Colts equipment manager, who notified Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano, who notified general manager Ryan Grigson. Watching from the press box, Grigson complained to NFL director of football operations Mike Kensil, who passed along the message to referees working the game.
After the opening kickoff of the second half, officials delayed the game for one minute so they could switch footballs.”Deflate-gate” was born.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday he planned to cooperate with the league’s investigation, while Brady laughed when asked if he used deflated footballs, which might help him secure a better grip in the rainy conditions he faced Sunday at Gillette Stadium. In 2007, Belichick was fined $500,000 and the organization $250,000 and a first-round draft pick after the Patriots filmed the New York Jets’ defensive signals during a game. The controversy was dubbed Spygate.
Adding intrigue: Two hours, 15 minutes prior to kickoff, the footballs used by New England’s offense passed an inspection by referee Walt Anderson.
That means someone (or something?) must have caused the deflation.
“I think I’ve heard it all at this point,” Brady said Monday in an interview with WEEI. “That’s the least of my worries. I don’t even respond to stuff like this.”
By rule, NFL footballs must be between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch and weigh between 14 and 15 ounces, a fact that doesn’t seem to mean much to former Seahawk CB Brandon Browner, in his first season with the Patriots, who chimed in on Twitter Wednesday.
For my 2cents Blount scored 3 rushing touchdowns. He could’ve carried a beach ball. Also doesn’t hurt we only gave up 7 points #inflatethis
— Brandon Browner (@bbrowner27) January 21, 2015
That came two days after Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski offered through his account the reason for New England’s deflated footballs.
Whoops lol pic.twitter.com/uLxN7A5cpq
— Rob Gronkowski (@RobGronkowski) January 20, 2015
Showing such candor is common for the Seahawks, a team with an array of outspoken personalities.
“I just catch footballs how they come,” said WR Jermaine Kearse, who sent Seattle to the Super Bowl with a game-winning, 35-yard touchdown catch in Sunday’s overtime win over the Packers. “It could be a tennis ball out there. They throw it to me, I’ll try to catch it.”
Then he launched into what may or may not have been a takeoff on former 76ers All-Star Allen Iverson’s rant about practice.
“This is just so funny because we are talking about footballs,” Kearse said. “We’re not talking about the game, we’re talking about footballs. Not the game, but the balls.”
Talking after practice, Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell seemed equally unconvinced that a soft football can tilt the game in favor of the offense.
“We throw whatever’s given to us,” he said. “If it’s flat, we’d be in trouble . . . When you’re handing it off, it doesn’t really matter how much air it has in it.”
Sherman (elbow) said he plans to practice with a brace on the arm he injured in the NFC title game, but reiterated he expects to play in the Super Bowl. How’s his range of motion? “If I had to slap my brother, I’d be able to do it,” he said . . . Baldwin said he wished he handled his post-NFC title game rant differently, but he wanted to get the message across. “I feel like I was taking away from everything that happened,” he said. “The team should be celebrated. That’s what I felt like. I was taking away from the team aspect of it. Ultimately, I wouldn’t take anything back. I meant what I said and I feel very strongly about it, obviously.” . . . Among those who missed Wednesday’s practice: RG J.R. Sweezy (ankle), RB Marshawn Lynch (non-injury related), S Earl Thomas (shoulder), LS Clint Gresham (neck) and Bennett (non-injury related). Sherman and RT Justin Britt were full participants.