Amid the blame games, name-calling and actual investigation materials in Ted Wells’ report, there’s this nugget: Tom Brady and Peyton Manning joined forces in 2006 to change the NFL’s rule regarding the preparation of footballs.
Here’s the skivvy: Prior to the 2006 season, home teams provided all footballs for games, including those used by the away teams. That’s not the case today, due largely to Brady and Manning banding together to gain support from quarterbacks around the league to change the rule.
Here’s the excerpt from the Wells report:
“Although the guidelines have remained relatively constant for at least a decade, those distributed just before the start of the 2006-07 season differed from those governing prior seasons in one significant respect — they allowed both the home and visiting teams to prepare their own game balls to accommodate the preferences of their individual quarterbacks. This change was the result of a lobbying effort undertaken by a number of NFL quarterbacks, including Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
“Before the 2006-07 season, all game balls used during NFL games were supplied and prepared by the home team. The visiting team was dependent on the home team with respect to the preparation of game balls, a situation that Brady described in contemporaneous media reports as having led to sleepless nights. According to Brady, he and then Colts quarterback Peyton Manning had, on occasion, discussed how it would be better if all quarterbacks could prepare footballs to fit their individual preferences. As Brady stated in a 2006 media interview, the existing policy did not account for the fact that ‘every quarterback likes (footballs) a little bit different. Some like them blown up a little bit more, some like them a little more thin, some like them a little more new, some like them really broken in.’
“To address these concerns, Manning and Brady introduced a proposal to change the rule, which they circulated to quarterbacks around the League. Receiving approval from ‘basically everyone,’ according to Brady, the proposal and the signatures gathered were presented to the NFL during the 2006 offseason. In March 2006, the NFL Competition Committee unanimously recommended that ‘each team’s offense be permitted to use its own footballs, prepared by its equipment personnel, for its non-kicking snaps from scrimmage'”
In January 2007, Brady’s Patriots and Manning’s Colts met in the AFC Championship Game. The next season, Brady set the then-NFL record with 50 passing touchdowns and led the Patriots to an 18-0 record before losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
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