Deflating Balls Was a Common Practice Until 15 Years Ago, Terry Bradshaw Said in Book (+ Graphic)

January 21, 2015 Updated: July 18, 2015

The New England Patriots are being accused of cheating after it was revealed that 11 of 12 of the team’s footballs were deflated by about two pounds during the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

But, former four-time Super Bowl winner Terry Bradshaw—in his 2002 book “It’s Only A Game”—said that deflating balls was a common practice until at least 2000.

“Some teams—who were not the Steelers—after the officials had checked and approved the game balls, would let out a couple of pound of air to make it easier for the quarterback to grip it. A little less air would make the ball spongier. It was what might be called a perceived advantage—both teams played with the same ball,” the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback wrote.

Photo Illustration by Rob Counts | Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Thinkstock
Photo Illustration by Rob Counts | Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Thinkstock

He added: “Most fans don’t know it, but before the game we would doctor the footballs that would be used. Until the season of 2000 it was up to the home team to provide twenty-four game balls to the officials for each game. A brand-new NFL football straight from the factory is not easy to throw or catch. It’s rock hard and very slippery. So in the privacy of the locker room before the game, players would take the footballs and rub them and scrub them to remove the glaze, or deflate them, then pump them up with air real big to stretch the leather.”

In the section, Bradshaw appears to joke that the Steelers never doctored their footballs. “Some teams—who were not the Steelers—after the officials had checked and approved the game balls, would let out a couple of pound of air to make it easier for the quarterback to grip it. A little less air would make the ball spongier. It was what might be called a perceived advantage-both teams played with the same ball,” he wrote.

Bradshaw also revealed that “on some teams the kickers would put them through a cycle in the dryer. Some teams did this, but naturally not the Steelers, because we were righteous folk who would never stretch the rules, and when these other teams—not the Steelers—were finished, they would put them back in the plastic wrapping and right back in the box.”

[H/T: Reddit]