Deflated footballs first came into the mainstream when the New England Patriots were accused of under-inflating footballs in the 2015 AFC Championship game. This controversy, known as “deflategate,” resulted in a four-game suspension for quarterback Tom Brady. The case was also concluded with a $1 million dollar fine and two surrendered draft picks for the Patriots.
During their preseason opener against the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night, the Pittsburgh Steelers were accused of using an underinflated football, much like the 2015 Patriots. One reporter, Howard Eskin of WIP radio, reported that after an incomplete pass the ball looked “like a marshmallow.”
The ball, thrown by Mason Rudolph in the third quarter was taken by the NFL for investigation.
While this may not seem like a big deal, based on the non-importance of the game, the Steelers have been accused of using under-inflated balls in the past. Back in 2016, the New York Giants accused the Steelers of this very same violation. Both of the balls were tested by the NFL in the 2016 case. The NFL announced that the balls were found to be “under the legal limit.” However, no formal complaint was ever filed.
Fast-forward to the preseason opener, there seems to be a pattern developing.
While few were quick to identify conspiracies, Michael Signora, NFL vice president of football communications, released the following statement.
“All footballs were in compliance with NFL rules following the pregame inspection process and all proper procedures were followed. 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.”
Based on the NFL’s statement, currently, there seems to be no wrongdoing by the Steelers. Although, only time will tell.
Scott Duda is a featured blogger for SportsTalkLive. Find more from SportsTalkLive on Twitter and Facebook.