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Here Are the Rules on Handling Footballs at Center of â€˜Deflategateâ€™ The New England Patriots supplied 12 game balls to referee Walt Anderson for approval 2 hours and 15 minutes before the American Football Conference Championship Game, as did the Indianapolis Colts, per league rules. Those balls supplied by the Patriots are now at the center of the National Football Leagueâ€™s pre-Super Bowl investigation thatâ€™s been dubbed â€œDeflategateâ€ in social media debates. The NFLâ€™s probe found that 11 of the 12 balls supplied by the Patriots and used by their offense last week were underinflated by about 2 pounds per square inch, ESPN reported yesterday, citing people it didnâ€™t identify. The NFL confirmed the investigation and said it will have no further comment. Balls inflated to less than the required pressure may be easier for a quarterback to throw and receivers to catch, particularly in wet or cold conditions. A steady rain fell throughout the Patriotsâ€™ 45-7 win over the Colts on Jan. 18 that sent New England to next weekâ€™s Super Bowl. According to the leagueâ€™s rule book, the Wilson brand footballs used in games are required to be inflated to a pressure of 12.5 to 13.5 pounds per square inch and weigh 14 to 15 ounces. The referee is the sole judge as to whether all balls offered for play comply with those specifications, with each team making 12 primary balls available for testing two hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff. The home team is also required to make 12 backup footballs available for testing, while the visiting team, at its discretion, may bring 12 backup balls to be tested by the referee for games held in outdoor stadiums. Refereeâ€™s Supervision A pump is furnished by the home club, and the NFL rule states the approved balls â€œshall remain under the supervision of the referee until they are delivered to the ball attendant just prior to the start of the game.â€ If a home team ball doesnâ€™t conform to specifications, or the clubâ€™s supply is exhausted, the NFL rule book says the referee â€œshall secure a proper ball from the visitors and, failing that, use the best available ball.â€ Such circumstances must be reported to the commissioner, league rules state. There are also different balls used by kickers. For all games, eight new footballs, sealed in a special box and shipped by the manufacturer to the referee, are opened in the officialsâ€™ locker room two hours and 15 minutes before game time. Those balls are specially marked by the referee and used exclusively for the kicking game. End of Article OK - my thoughts - If I read the above right, the 9 officials that are in charge of 42 footballs (36 for general play and 8 for kicking) that must be delivered to the officials over 2 hours before the game. Must be at a required pressure - if not, pumped up (or down) by the referee (pump supplied by home team but no pressure gauge). Do I have this right ? ? ? ? Reports are that the Patriots "cheated". Nope - they did not cheat - the officials didn't do their job. Just another case of "Why We Do What We Do" ( ) nuff sed