By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — To most people in this lovely country, science is science. Facts are facts.
Unless you’re the NFL.
To the NFL, science is not real if you can just keep data hidden. And that appears to be the case with those “random” PSI tests held during the season last year.
Of course, in New England, glaring inconsistencies in the league’s stated plans for the PSI tests are nothing new. But Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio recently laid out some new information to a national audience.
Citing The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin, Florio noted that if each officiating crew in 2015 only recorded PSI at halftime once per year, then 17 total PSI tests were held throughout the season.
Referee Ronald Torbert told Volin that his crew had one game in which they carefully measured and recorded PSI readings before the game, at halftime, and after the game. Torbert then submitted that information to the NFL.
The problem is, NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino (who’s been caught in a fib or two throughout this mess) has said that his officials don’t handle that type of information.
“So on the officiating side, we weren’t involved in the PSI and that part of it,” Blandino told PFT in July. “We really were focusing on the chain of custody and the protocol and who had access to the footballs and how they were getting from point A to point B before the game. … NFL Security would log that [PSI] information and that’s how the procedure took place.”
Someone — either Torbert or Blandino — is lying.
Which one do you think that might be?
There’s the guy who’s just dutifully doing the job asked of him, and then there’s the guy who often finds himself having to explain that which cannot be explained without making the league look inconsistent and deceitful.
I’m probably going to go with the latter.
Florio reached a pretty straightforward conclusion: “The absence of transparency in contrast to a controversy in which, via the Ted Wells report and the Tom Brady suspension, appeal, and litigation, all facts were made available ad nauseum serves only to feed suspicion that the NFL doesn’t want anyone to know the numbers harvested by the random process — and that the NFL doesn’t want anyone to know the numbers because the NFL knows it will become even harder to justify a finding of cheating in connection with the January 2015 AFC Championship if people have the ability to analyze the PSI numbers generated during the 2015 season.”
Volin made a similar statement: “So it really should be quite simple for the NFL to find all of the PSI data last year, tally it up, and reveal it to the public. That the league has chosen to protect the data strongly suggests that Roger Goodell and league executives realize how much they overreacted to Deflategate.”
It’s all common sense to anybody paying close attention, or to anybody who believes basic science is not negotiable. Somehow, the fact that the NFL was “very concerned” about footballs losing air pressure in the frigid conditions of Minneapolis last January, combined with Troy Vincent’s admission that nobody at the league ever took chemistry or physics in high school — that was not enough for people to realize just how badly the league fumbled the entire situation from the very start.
Alas, if there’s one area where the NFL showed great foresight, it’s the league’s belief that 95 percent of the general public would not play close enough attention for any of this to really matter. The PSI results are going to remain classified information (if they haven’t been shredded already), and nobody’s going to care too much.
And the Hall of Fame quarterback is still going to be forced to sit out a month.
What a story.