Long before the New England Patriots were accused of deflating footballs in the AFC Championship Game, a Super Bowl-winning quarterback was going to great lengths to make sure his balls had just the right feel.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Brad Johnson paid $7,500 to have 100 footballs scuffed up before Super Bowl XXXVII, he told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times on Tuesday. Altering the balls was not easy, as the NFL apparently kept all the balls secure, but Johnson wasn’t leaving anything to chance in the biggest game of his life.
“I paid some guys off to get the balls right,” Johnson told Stroud. “I went and got all 100 footballs, and they took care of all of them.”
Johnson made his admission in the wake of this week’s “DeflateGate” controversy, in which the Indianapolis Colts claim the Patriots intentionally under-inflated balls for better grip in Sunday’s conference title game. The NFL found 11 of the 12 game balls used by the Patriots were under-inflated.
Johnson isn’t the only QB to admit he doctors footballs to some degree. Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers reportedly told CBS this season that he prefers over-inflated balls, because he likes the “tight” feel.
Whatever anyone thinks of Johnson’s ploy, nobody can argue with the results. Johnson completed 18 of 34 passes for 215 yards, two touchdowns and an interception in the Bucs’ 48-21 win over the Oakland Raiders.
Thumbnail photo via Twitter/@joesimtre