Sports Football

NFL PLAYOFFS

NFL finds that 11 of Patriots' 12 footballs under-inflated -- report

John Kryk

By John Kryk, Toronto Sun

Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Colts during the AFC Championship Game in Foxborough, Mass., on Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount reacts after scoring a touchdown against the Colts during the AFC Championship Game in Foxborough, Mass., on Sunday, Jan. 18, 2015. (Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports)

The NFL reportedly has found that 11 of the allotted 12 footballs used by the New England Patriots in Sunday night's AFC championship game indeed were under-inflated.

ESPN's Chris Mortensen reported late Tuesday night that all but one of the balls used by the Patriots offence were two pounds-per-square-inch below the NFL's minimum threshold of 12.5 PSI.

The acceptable range is 12.5 to 13.5 PSI.

An under-inflated ball is easier for a quarterback to throw, and easier for his receivers to catch in cold or rainy conditions.

It rained before and during the Patriots' 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts.

"We are not commenting at this time," the NFL's senior VP of communications, Greg Aiello, told Mortensen.

Earlier Tuesday, the NFL said its investigation into the charge -- first reported several hours after the game ended by a veteran Indianapolis writer -- would be wrapped up before the weekend.

ESPN cited a source saying the NFL is "disappointed ... angry ... distraught" at having to investigate such a potential lowly act of cheating.

Before every NFL game, the game's referee himself inspects and approves all balls for use by each team, and gives the approved balls to each team two hours and 15 minutes before kickoff.

NFL footballs must also weigh 14 to 15 ounces.

What remains perplexing, if the report is accurate, is how Sunday's game officials -- who handle footballs all game long (e.g., to spot it, after incompletions, at changes of possession, etc.) -- didn't immediately notice.

 

Jags head coach explains Marrone hiring

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley on Tuesday hired ex-Buffalo head coach Doug Marrone to be his offensive line coach.

Oh, and assistant head coach.

That's a helluva comedown for Marrone, whose big New Year's Eve gamble to quit the Bills to land a better NFL head-coaching gig backfired.

For a few days Marrone seemed a hot head-coaching candidate, but that quickly cooled. At least he has his $4 million in walkaway money.

After the South team's first practice before Saturday's Senior Bowl, QMI Agency asked Bradley if the controversial circumstances under which Marrone bolted Buffalo was a factor in his talks with Marrone.

"No, no, I really didn't get into it," Bradley said. "For me it was, obviously, that he's a good teacher and a good developer, and then a good person.

"You know, one thing that we feel is very important is humility. And I think if you have humility, you identify your weaknesses and you can get better at those. And I just felt a great sense of humility (in Marrone). It was an unbelievable visit."

In discussing Marrone's credentials, Bradley told reporters, "I tell you what, (the Bills were) very-well coached -- very well coached in the offensive line. They did a really good job rushing the ball last year."

Asked what makes him think Marrone can be a cultural fit on the Jaguars, Bradley said: "He purely is, in talking to him, about wanting the offensive line to get better. He's got great humility.

"I just felt like it was a really good fit."

Bradley said Marrone is not coming to Mobile this week to help the Jaguars staff coach the South team.

As well, Bradley said "we're still going through the process" of hiring an offensive coordinator. That is, they're still interviewing.

 

Auburn QB suddenly switches to cornerback at Senior Bowl

One of the six quarterbacks here at the Senior Bowl on Tuesday morning decided to become a cornerback.

In a move that shocked and angered some locals, Auburn University's Nick Marshall traded in his No. 14, yellow-coloured jersey for quarterbacks for a numberless, orange defender's jersey.

Marshall hadn't played cornerback since leaving high school five years ago.

Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley, whose staff is coaching Marshall's South team, said the decision was Marshall's.

"He came up to me and said, 'you know what Gus? I want to try defence. I want to go in there and play corner, I want to be a part of special teams."

When Marshall measured in at 6-foot-1.5 and 205 pounds in the morning, it was still believed he'd be one of the South team's three passers. But only Alabama's Blake Sims and Colorado State's Garrett Grayson quarterbacked.

"(Marshall) wasn't even in the defensive meetings last night," Bradley said. "Then to come out and jump in and go full speed, you could see him progress as the practice went on."

THE CANADIAN: One Canadian player is here: Kitchener, Ont., native Tyler Varga, who starred collegiately at Yale University. He played running back with the Bulldogs but is mostly being used as a fullback here. His measure-in created something of a stir on Twitter. The son of former bodybuilders, mom and dad alike, Varga showed off a ripped 5-foot-10 1/4, 227-pound body. He told QMI Agency he's getting some reps at halfback here, too, not just at fullback.

THE REAL NUMBERS: Players and their coaches have been exaggerating heights and weights in whichever direction best suits their purposes since the first footballs were kicked. But at Tuesday morning weigh-ins, you could almost hear groans for some. Such as Alabama quarterback Blake Sims. He was listed at 6-foot, 210 pounds but measured up at 5-foot-11 1/2, 223 pounds -- a half-inch shorter and 13 pounds heavier. Not good.


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