Ex-QB Jeff Blake: Everyone deflates footballs
The way Jeff Blake tells it, the New England Patriots wouldn’t be doing anything out of the ordinary if they were intentionally deflating footballs.
Blake, who spent 13 seasons in the NFL and made the Pro Bowl once during his six seasons with the Bengals, says every team let air out of the footballs when he played.
“I’m just going to let the cat of the bag, every team does it, every game, it has been since I played,” Blake said on The Midday 180 in Nashville. “Cause when you take the balls out of the bag, they are rock hard. And you can’t feel the ball as well. It’s too hard. Everybody puts the pin in and let’s just enough air out of the ball that you can feel it a little better. But it’s not the point to where it’s flat.
“So I don’t know what the big deal is. It’s not something that’s not been done for 20 years.”
Blake’s career spanned from 1992-2005, so the rules changed after he retired. In 2006, the NFL began allowing visiting teams to handle their own balls. That’s why Blake talked about deflating balls on the sidelines before games.
“As soon as they give them the balls,” Blake said they would adjust the balls. “On the sideline before the game. The quarterbacks would come out to warm-up in pregame … “I would just say, ‘Take a little bit out, it’s a little bit hard.’ And then they’d take a little bit out and I’d squeeze them and say ‘That’s perfect, that’s it.'”
Whatever Blake did led to some great results. In 1995, he threw for 28 touchdowns as quarterback for the 7-9 Bengals, which was a lot back in those days.
I have steadfastly maintained that deflating balls would present an advantage for a quarterback and Blake seems to confirm that (Aaron Rodgers is probably in the minority for liking the ball overinflated). If Tom Brady likes an underinflated ball, he probably should have just approached the league about tweaking the rules to allow a slightly deflated ball. You know that the league would have approved it if that’s what he wanted. The issue here is that it would be shady if the Patriots altered balls after referees inspected them. That makes it look like a cheating operation.