Thursday, April 28, 2016


It's NFL Draft Day and we're still sorting out Deflategate. The issue itself may even be inflated to the Supreme Court which seems absurd. However, the cloak and dagger rules surrounding the handling of NFL balls may serve to explain why the high court must sort out the issues relating to ethical and appropriate ball handling.

Each team supplies 24 new balls (12 primary balls plus 12 backup balls) before each game.  Security is tight for the balls until each team's balls are distributed about 10 minutes before the game. Each team only plays with their own balls at all times. They do not play with each other's balls.

It used to be that NFL footballs were delivered directly to game officials before every game but quarterbacks were unsatisfied with how their balls were being roughed up by the officials. The rules were changed a decade ago to allow quarterbacks to rough up their own balls according to their own liking.

Footballs are now delivered to the equipment managers and teams can practice with their own balls the week before the game. Two hours before game time, however, their balls must be submitted to officials for inspection. After inspection, the balls are in the possession of ball boys for about ten minutes before they're brought to the field. On game day, teams don't even get to warm up their own balls. They have to warm up with practice balls.

Kickers are not to be trusted with their own balls. 12 separate balls are delivered directly to the officials. After inspection, those balls are guarded by an NFL employee hired specifically to handle those balls. No one else can touch the kickers' balls.

In high school football, the number of required balls is less and in youth football, they're lucky to have more than one ball among them. But it all goes to show that this business of balls is much more complicated than most people know. No wonder we need experts in the law to sort it all out.

Meanwhile, and in not completely unrelated news, there has been a lot of movement in the world of long snappers. As you will recall, Andrew East was signed as long snapper for the Seahawks with the waiver of Clint Gresham. But before I could even order a jersey, East was waived in favor of Drew Ferris.

The Broncos picked up Casey Kreiter who replaces Aaron Brewer who now snaps for the Bears. Kreiter was signed after a workout in Denver that included Christian Yount who was later signed by the Patriots. The other snapper on the Patriots roster, Joe Cardona, was selected in the fifth round of last year's draft.

The Cardinals were the only team to go into this year's draft without a long snapper. Maybe it will be Nathan Theus. (For an interesting article on long snapping - and to find out who Nathan Theus is - this is a good article from Sports Illustrated.) Maybe it'll be Clint Gresham but I hope the Seahawks end up renegotiating his contract. After all, I already have the jersey.

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