On Thursday night, WIP sideline reporter Howard Eskin tweeted this during the Steelers-Eagles game:
The NFL wasted little time responding, presumably because it’s hard to imagine: a. the Steelers would be cheating to win a meaningless preseason game, or b. that deflating footballs is actually helpful.
“All footballs were in compliance with NFL rules following the pregame inspection process and all proper procedures were followed,” NFL vice president of football communications Michael Signora said in a statement. “In the third quarter, a football that was found to be defective was removed from play and will be sent back to Wilson for review.”
Back in Dec. 2016, FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer reported that the Giants reported the Steelers to the league for allegedly deflating footballs during a regular-season game. But there was no investigation, protracted or otherwise, because following Glazer’s report, the league promptly issued this statement:
“The officiating game ball procedures were followed and there were no chain of command issues. All footballs were in compliance and no formal complaint was filed by the Giants with our office.”
At the league meetings several weeks later, commissioner Roger Goodell was.
“What you do is you test the balls before the game, and the officials always maintain control of those footballs from that point on,” Goodell said at the time. “We went back. We checked with the officials to make sure they checked the proper inflation. They did that. The balls were retained in their control throughout the game from that point on. So the protocols were followed all the way.”
Steelers president Art Rooney II made an important point after the Giants game that’s worth reiterating here: “I don’t think people seem to understand that we don’t have custody of the balls anymore, so they don’t have much of an opportunity to deflate them. So I don’t know what happened, I don’t know if something happened, and if it happened, I don’t know what happened. So there’s not much I can say about it.”
Let’s all hope this is the last time we speak of deflated footballs.