Report: Unnamed long snapper deflated balls with paper clip

An unnamed NFL long snapper reportedly deflated footballs with a paper clip.
Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

By Steve DelVecchio

People who want to see Tom Brady’s suspension get overturned by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell are generally sorted into two groups – those who believe Brady is innocent and those who say “everyone does it, so who cares?”

While covering Brady’s appeal on “NFL Insiders” Tuesday afternoon, ESPN’s Adam Schefter provided the latter group with some ammunition when he shared stories he has heard about players deflating game balls.

“There was one punter I know – or, long snapper, last year – that carried a paper clip with him in two games and deflated footballs before he snapped them during the games,” Schefter said, per Frank Schwab of Shutdown Corner. “There’s another backup quarterback that would deflate footballs for his starting quarterback.”

If you’re shocked by that, you must really think the New England Patriots are the only team that treads the line in an attempt to gain an advantage. That would be incredibly naive.

It’s interesting that a long snapper would allegedly deflate balls, as kickers are said to like kicking balls overinflated, if anything, as it makes them fly further. Perhaps there is a punter or two who prefers kicking a ball that is a bit softer. The story about the backup quarterback is less surprising.

One of the strongest arguments against Brady’s four-game suspension has been that there is no precedent. Last season, the Minnesota Vikings and Carolina Panthers were caught heating game balls on the sidelines during a cold game. Both teams were only issued warnings. There was also this story about the Indianapolis Colts’ ball boys, and nothing ever came of that.

Even if Brady is guilty of being “generally aware” that Patriots staffers were underinflating balls, a four-game suspension seems ridiculous. Yes, even if he didn’t fully cooperate with the investigation.

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