Footballs to be under tight security at Super Bowl XLIX
PHOENIX, USA - The NFL will keep a tight rein on more than 100 footballs available for use by the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLIX.
The league's championship spectacular will unfold on Sunday, February 1 (Monday PH time) under the cloud of "Deflategate," a probe into whether the Patriots purposely used under-inflated footballs to gain an advantage in their playoff rout of Indianapolis.
Dean Blandino, the NFL's head of officiating, said this week that the Super Bowl footballs would be tested before the big game for correct pressure - as he believes was done properly in the Colts' game at Foxborough.
Before a typical NFL game, 12 balls per team are brought to the officials' locker room where they are tested to ensure they are properly inflated and otherwise meet requirements, then are stamped by the referee.
For the Super Bowl, each team gets 54 footballs. All were handed over to the NFL on Friday by the teams, who were able to practice with and prepare them.
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The man in charge of them until Sunday's game is Chicago Bears equipment manager Tony Medlin, who will bring the balls to officials for pre-game inspection, after which they will be turned over to the ball boys.
"He's been doing this for a long time," Blandino said.
The procedure is standard for the Super Bowl, although Blandino said there were some "additional security measures" laid on that he didn't specify.
"Not quite Stanley Cup," he said, in a reference to protection for the NHL's famous trophy, "but there will be additional measures."
The increased number of balls used for the Super Bowl is also standard procedure, Blandino said.
"During the first half, we rotate footballs in as much as possible, because then those balls are used for charity and the NFL auction," he said. "That's something that's been in place for many years at the Super Bowl."
On Friday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell promised a "thorough" investigation into how some of the footballs used by New England in their AFC Championship win over Indianapolis came to be under the minimum pressure required by the league.
An under-inflated ball could be easier to grip and throw in the cold, rainy conditions that prevailed for the game.
Blandino said he believed the footballs for that game were inspected properly, and "officiating is not part of the investigation."
Blandino added that officials rechecked the balls - and reinflated some - at halftime because "a football came into question."
He left open the question of whether inflation levels would be checked at halftime on Sunday.
"If a situation comes up, we'll adjust," Blandino said. - Rappler.com