Monday, July 20, 2015

Legal Week Day 1: "Deflategate"

So unless you have been traveling on New Horizons somewhere near Pluto you have heard of "Deflategate" where various members of the New England Patriots have been accused of doctoring game balls and then covering up that event.

This has a life of its own now and with an announcement out any day now from the NFL league office I am going to let it be, with one exception ... the referees.

Interestingly, the "Wells Report" commissioned by the NFL and created by investigator Ted Wells is highly complimentary of the officiating crew and states in part Dr. Walt Anderson, the referee for the contest and a 19-year NFL veteran, as an organized, by-the-book, detail-orientated referee.

Fro the report itself:
“It is obvious that he approaches his responsibilities with a high level of professionalism and integrity.”

It is also stated how Dr. Anderson tested the footballs before the AFC title game, noting he had not one, but two air-pressure gauges, and used a gold pen to mark the footballs that were tested. He also marked the spare footballs in case they were to be used, but only after asking NFL senior director of officiating Alberto Riveron for permission.

Understanding that the LOTG spells out how the balls have to be prepared for The Game, what other procedures do you use to assure the balls used are ones that have been tested.

Now you may think this is not a big deal ... and in general I may have agreed as generally a referee may give a ball the "Charmin Test" before putting it in play and no more.

At the professional and international level this is a daunting task and is generally delegated to the 4th official and there are a couple of dozen balls to go through and requires a pressure gauge to make sure the pressure is correct as players are increasingly sensitive to such changes.

Now, I am going to recommend folks start carrying a pressure gauge and a marker pen to even youth matches. Why you ask, surely not due to "Deflategate"?

Nope, I have no fear of FIFA coming down on me as a referee if a ball is under, or more importantly over inflated.

My reason is, and this is a stretch, as we will see tomorrow there was a HUGE lawsuit that was just dismissed, but I have no doubt is coming back and is over soccer players, headers, and concussions. My logic is simple, the harder the ball, the possible greater chance of a concussion (up to a 30% in this report for heading). While the particular suit did not involve referees directly ... how soon is it before a referee gets questions about ball pressure or is required to show before each match the ball was properly inflated? After all, we should be doing this anyway.

Whacky ... yes ... a bit ... but when you see the verdict and some info I will present about concussions later this week, you may at least pause to make sure a ball gets more than the Charmin test before a match. Get in the habit now ... gauge it, fix it, mark it ... done.

Special trivia for the FIFA video above too ... can anyone name the FIFA referee at :53 of the video? I'll give you a hint ... he is really not welcome in Italy and was recently released from jail. I was very surprised FIFA used him in the video (2) years after his conviction.


  1. Embarrassed, I am supposed to be the "name the referee guy" but I don't know this one. Thought you were going to give us Pierluigi Pairetto.

    Not much video out there of match ball replacements, I guess :)

  2. Anon,

    LOL ... yeah I don't think there is too much video out there of match ball replacements.

    I'll give the answer of which referee at the end of the week. It is not Pairetto however.

    Thanks for reading,