Forget about how the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots are preparing for Super Bowl XLIX. Let’s talk about how the actual footballs will become game ready.
More attention — about a million times more attention — has been paid to the proper inflation level of footballs in light of the DeflateGate controversy that stemmed from the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game win over the Indianapolis Colts. With that heightened interest, the NFL operations department decided to explain how the game balls will be prepared for Super Bowl Sunday.
While many measures will remain the same as non-Super Bowl games, the NFL will take a few extra steps to ensure the footballs are good to go.
“After the conference championship games end, Wilson ships 54 game footballs to each of the participating Super Bowl teams,” the NFL wrote in a blog post. “The teams are allowed to prepare and practice with these footballs until the Friday before the Super Bowl. Each team?s quarterback can prepare the footballs to suit his preferences — as long as his preferences comply with league specifications, rules and policies.”
Emphasis on that last part. Chicago Bears equipment manager Tony Medlin, whom the league selected to oversee the preparation process, then will collect the footballs from each team and thoroughly inspect them. After Medlin tosses a few of the footballs that don’t meet league standards, he will meet Saturday with NFL Security and a professional sports authentication company representative, who then will certify the balls with an official stamp.
The balls will be locked in a room and not brought out to the stadium until about three hours before kickoff. At that time, it will be the referee’s turn to inspect the balls and ensure they are properly inflated. The referees again will check the inflation levels at halftime and make adjustments if necessary.
Thumbnail photo via Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports Images