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Joe Theismann: ‘Negligible’ Difference in Footballs, Deflate-Gate ‘Not a Big Deal’

Former Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, who spent most of two decades after his career ended puffing as a commentator on football telecasts, showed he’s still interested in how much air can fill something up.

On the heels of Deflate-Gate, Theismann decided to test NFL footballs that ranged from properly inflated to underflated to see how much difference he felt throwing them.

In Washington for a benefit to support military veterans and their families, Theismann went to Redskins Park to throw footballs inflated to 11 and 13 PSI. He said, “I knew I’d be asked a lot of questions, start to do a lot of interviews. And instead of pre-supposing what something might feel like or what it may do, I decided to go out to Redskins Park and see what a ball felt like at 13 PSI, versus 11.”

After testing the footballs, Theismann had a clear view. He said, “You really have to push it to feel the difference in it. It’s negligible, as far as I’m concerned…. I can’t see it. Maybe it feels a little softer to people.” He concluded that the brouhaha over the underinflated footballs was “not a big deal. A rules violation, yes, but not that big a deal.”

Theismann, who quarterbacked the Redskins to two successive Super Bowls, winning in 1983, said he never thought about the inflation of the footballs he used, offering, “It never ever crossed my mind. In fact, until this incident came up, it never crossed my mind in all the years that I’ve been involved in football, which goes back professionally to 1974. That’s over 40 years of being around the game.’’

But he did agree with Tom Brady that he had a preference for certain kinds of footballs: “I preferred the ball…hard,” adding that weather such as the rain in the AFC Championship game wouldn’t have affected him: “In fact, in the rain, balls are a little bit easier to hold for me, because they had a tackiness to them. The leather gets wet, it’s a little tacky — as long as it’s not sitting in a puddle and you get a soaked ball. They get a little heavier and a little tackier.”

Brady had said, “Everybody has a preference; some guys like them round; some guys like them thin; some guys like them tacky, some guys like them brand-new; some guys like old balls; I mean, they’re all different. It’s leather, and it’s all…every batch comes, they’re different, so you gotta feel them, and you try to go out, you try to use the ones that you like the best. The ones that you use in practice. You want to go out there and have the most possible consistency to go in the game with.”

Theismann defended Patriots’ Coach Bill Belichick from charges he had known about the deflated footballs, asserting, “I certainly believe Bill Belichick when he said he has no idea what was going on, that he was shocked and surprised.” His conclusion about the whole Deflate-gate affair: “It seems like a lot, when you say 13 PSI down to 11 PSI. You say, ‘Gosh, that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 or 16 percent.’ It really isn’t that big. Air is pretty light.”

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