By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — When Troy Vincent said on Thursday that the NFL checked only for violations of pregame handling of football and not the PSI numbers, he was telling a lie. Or, at best, he was stretching the truth and, with it, the bounds of credulity.

Here’s exactly what the NFL said would be a part of the new protocol when it was announced last summer. From the official NFL Operations website:

At designated games, selected at random, the game balls used in the first half will be collected by the K-Ball Coordinator at halftime, and the League’s Security Representative will escort the KBC with the footballs to the Officials’ Locker room. During halftime, each game ball for both teams will be inspected in the locker room by designated members of the officiating and security crews, and the PSI results will be measured and recorded.  Once measured, those game balls will then be secured and removed from play.

And later:

All game ball information will be recorded on the Referee’s Report, which must be submitted to the League office by noon on the day following the game.

The NFL announced that as part of its new protocol for handling footballs, the PSI results would be measured and recorded.

Presumably, the NFL was hoping to prove the Ideal Gas Law to be a fairytale. Alas, science is real, and the results likely showed that many, many footballs tested at halftime came in under the 12.5 PSI threshold. (Heck, Colts footballs on the very night of the incident measured lower than 12.5 PSI.) And so, the NFL has changed its tune.

“We focus on procedure, balls being brought to the stadium,” Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president, said on Thursday. “There was no violation of game balls being checked in at the appropriate time. … It’s the procedure of the balls themselves.”

That’s what the NFL claims these inspections — now referred to as “spot checks,” thanks to commissioner Roger Goodell — were about. Forget the 100 pages from Exponent in the Wells report, forget the leaking of false PSI numbers to ESPN, forget the providing of false PSI numbers to the Patriots, forget the NFL media report that PSI was tested at halftime of a Titans-Patriots game at Gillette, and forget the dozens of highly regarded scientific minds who noted that the footballs that January night in Foxboro were in line with what was to be expected from the Ideal Gas Law. Forget it all, because the NFL wants you to forget it.

Of course, the shift of focus is nothing new. The NFL remained largely silent on the topic of recording PSI in footballs throughout the season, until Goodell spoke on the Rich Eisen Show and changed the inspection to “spot checks.”

“We do spot checks to prevent and make sure the clubs understand that we’re watching these issues,” Goodell said in February. “It wasn’t a research study. They simply were spot checks. There were no violations this year.”

A few days later at his press conference, Goodell was pressured by CSNNE’s Tom E. Curran to answer what exactly constituted a violation. Goodell, predictably, talked in circles, before saying this:

“We will look at that type of procedure and make sure there is no violation. We don’t disclose all the specifics of that because it’s meant as a deterrent. It’s a deterrent when [teams] think that game may be checked.”

Goodell did admit that PSI data was recorded.

“It’s also important that the data that was collected was not for research,” Goodell said. “Data was collected just to see if there was a violation. Our people never found a violation, no accusations of a violation.”

Mind you, there was no violation because the NFL decided to change the definition of a “violation.” In January 2015, a “violation” constituted having a bunch of unqualified people haphazardly stick pressure gauges into footballs and ascribe guilt. Now, after science was proven to exist in the universe, a “violation” involves removing the footballs from the officials’ locker room early.

VP of officiating Dean Blandino also said that the league did indeed record PSI data.

“We did spot checks throughout the year, and we measured PSI levels and recorded that information,” Blandino said during Super Bowl week. “So right now, we’re evaluating the information. We didn’t have any violations this year, but again we’re still in that evaluation phase to look at the information and then we’ll see what that tells us.”

What the data told them was that it’s high time to change the accusations and charges against the Patriots, because the PSI charges — aka the basis of the entire punishment — didn’t actually hold any water in the real world. If Mike Kensil, Vincent and all the officials present for the sloppy measuring of PSI in the Gillette Stadium officials’ locker room hadn’t jumped to conclusions based solely on PSI recordings, then the Patriots would never have been found to have committed a “violation.”

Alas, the league continues to fight tooth-and-nail in a case that has cost them more than $12.5 million of wasted money.

For the record, Blandino has lied publicly before about DeflateGate. Vincent has chastised the NFLPA for spending money on court cases instead of helping former players, majestically unaware of the burning duplicity. In an official written ruling to uphold a suspension, Roger Goodell lied about Tom Brady’s testimony. NFL senior VP of operations Dave Gardi lied to the Patriots when he told them that a football measured in at 10.1 PSI when in fact, none had measured that low. And the whole NFL operation touted the “independence” of Ted Wells for months before finally dropping that charade while citing client-attorney privilege during the appeal process.

Just tally this one as another lie for the league, which continues to paint Tom Brady and the Patriots as evil villains for committing the sinful act of … lying. The hypocrisy is thicker than pig fat.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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