The security around the footballs that will be used for the Super Bowl 2015 game on Sunday started earlier this week. With 54 balls designated for each team, the balls were allowed to be used during practice by the teams up until Friday. This is when they were due to be handed back into the league, according to NBC News on Jan. 30.
The man who took charge of the footballs from Friday and who will keep them until game day is veteran Chicago Bears equipment manager Tony Medlin. They will stay in Medlin’s care until three hours before the game when the balls will then travel into the officials’ locker room. This is where the balls are inspected and yes, checked for regulation air pressure. The balls are then returned to Medlin, who carts them out to the field and passes them to the attendants.
SB Nation reports that the Super Bowl footballs will receive extra security in light of the deflated balls debacle at the AFC Championship game. SB Nation writes, “The NFL is not taking any chances with the footballs for the Super Bowl especially with New England around the building.”
During the AFC Championship game on Jan. 18, the balls were tested mid-game. When Dean Blandino, who is the NFL’s vice president of officiating, was asked if the same could be expected during the Super Bowl, he said there were no such plans. The balls were inspected mid-game for the Championship game after a complaint was made.
Blandino did admit that the fiasco now known as Deflategate did prompt some “beefed-up protections,” but he wouldn’t give any details to the steps put in place. He also said at his news conference, “There will be some added security just because of the environment we’re in for this game. But there’s really no change in terms of the protocol for the Super Bowl.”
Balls used for any NFL game have a timeline, an inspection period and they are in someone’s care until the game begins. In any game other than the Super Bowl, only 12 balls per team are given to officials two hours and 15 minutes before game time. This is when the balls are tested for air pressure regulations.
There has been no further information on the deflating of the AFC Championship balls. New England denies having any part in ball deflation and it appears the investigation will get back into full swing once the Super Bowl is done.
So what’s with the 54 balls for each team when they play the Super Bowl? SB Nation reports the seeming large quantity of balls are due to the selling and donating of the balls when the game is done.