Jeff Blake played 13 years in the NFL as a quarterback, six with the Cincinnati Bengals, and so he knows a thing or three about footballs, how much air should be in them and releasing the air in them.
Yes, Deflategate was the subject, and Blake wondered what all the fuss was about with the New England Patriots having 11 of 12 balls in the AFC Championship game below the league’s mandated compression levels.
“I’m just going to let the cat out of the bag,” Blake said on a Nashville radio program. “Every team (deflates balls), every game. It has (been that way) since I played.”
There is a reason to take some of the air out of the balls, Blake said.
“’Cause when you take the balls out of the bag, they are rock hard,” he explained. “And you can’t feel the ball as well. It’s too hard.”
And so, teams are left with no recourse, Blake said.
“Everybody puts the pin in and lets just enough air out of the ball that you can feel the ball a little better. But it’s not to the point where it is flat.”
And so, Blake claims to be confused about the massive controversy about the Patriots’ deflated footballs that has dominated the conversation leading to this Sunday’s Super Bowl in Arizona.
“I don’t know what the big deal is,” Blake said. “It’s not something that has not been done in the last 20 years.”
There are many NFL quarterbacks who have denied doing such, including New England’s Tom Brady, whose character has come into question in the fallout over the controversy.
Blake’s contention is that quarterbacks make the call “as soon as they give them the balls.”
“On the sideline before the game. The quarterbacks would come out and warm up in pregame,” he said.
“I would just say, ‘Take a little bit out of it; it’s a little bit hard. And then they’d take a little out and I’d squeeze it and say, ‘That’s perfect.’ That’s it.”
It would be it, if it were not against league guidelines. It also would have been less of a deal if it were not coach Bill Belichick and Brady involved.
A cynic would say the Patriots have found themselves in enough trouble off the field — lip-reading, spying and now this — that their willingness to follow the rules bears watching.
For sure, it makes it more fun that it’s the Patriots involved, no matter if Blake thinks it’s commonplace. Grumpy Belichick and golden-boy Brady got caught. That’s like catnip for the media and the Patriot-haters in the public.