Dotson’s Note: Here we are just days from Super Bowl 49 and all kinds of interesting game related facts are filling the headlines. The following is to help get you ready for the big game. If you read and remember, you are well on your way to being a pre-Super Bowl Forty-Nine expert.
NFL looking into Pats' possible use of deflated balls (do you remember Spygate?)
The New England Patriots find themselves amidst another controversy following their 45-7 pummeling of the Indianapolis Colts. Shortly after the game NFL spokesman Michael Signora said “The league is looking into the apparent use of overly deflated footballs by the Patriots during their win. Midway through the game, a ball was taken off the field and out of circulation.”
For you picky Benchwarmer listeners, here is the rule direct from the NFL Rules Book:
Rule 2 The Ball
The Ball must be a “Wilson,” hand selected, bearing the signature of the Commissioner of the League, Roger Goodell. The ball shall be made up of an inflated (12 1/2 to 13 1/2 pounds) urethane bladder enclosed in a pebble grained, leather case (natural tan color) without corrugations of any kind. It shall have the form of a prolate spheroid and the size and weight shall be: long axis, 11 to 11 1/4 inches; long circumference, 28 to 28 1/2 inches; short circumference, 21 to 21 1/4 inches; weight, 14 to 15 ounces.
The Referee shall be the sole judge as to whether all balls offered for play comply with these specifications. A pump is to be furnished by the home club, and the balls shall remain under the supervision of the Referee until they are delivered to the ball attendant just prior to the start of the game.
Each team will make 12 primary balls available for testing by the Referee two hours and 15 minutes prior to the starting time of the game to meet League requirements. The home team will also make 12 backup balls available for testing in all stadiums. In addition, the visitors, at their discretion, may bring 12 backup balls to be tested by the Referee for games held in outdoor stadiums. For all games, eight new footballs, sealed in a special box and shipped by the manufacturer to the Referee, will be opened in the officials’ locker room two hours and 15 minutes prior to the starting time of the game. These balls are to be specially marked by the Referee and used exclusively for the kicking game. In the event a home team ball does not conform to specifications, or its supply is exhausted, the Referee shall secure a proper ball from the visitors and, failing that, use the best available ball. Any such circumstances must be reported to the Commissioner.
In case of rain or a wet, muddy, or slippery field, a playable ball shall be used at the request of the offensive team’s center.
Note: It is the responsibility of the home team to furnish playable balls at all times by attendants from either side of the playing field.
Between now and Super Bowl Forty-Nine I’ll bet we hear a lot more about "DeflataGate."
I will update you in my next Benchwarmers Blog.
Seven things to watch in Super Bowl XLIX
The Seahawks will be in Arizona on February 1st with a chance to become the NFL's first back-to-back Super Bowl champion since 2005. It's fitting the team standing in their way is the Patriots, who are the last franchise to repeat as Lombardi winners.
It's a classic old guard-new guard matchup with the stakes at their highest. Will the Seahawks edge toward dynasty status? Can Tom Brady win a fourth ring and solidify his GOAT credentials? Will Richard Sherman outshine Darrelle Revis? Can Marshawn Lynch find a way to escape Media Day? Here's a look ahead:
1. This is a great match up, Bill Belichick and Brady squaring off against a historically great Seahawks defense. Michael Bennett bragged last week that the Seahawks have the No. 1 defense of their era. No one will deny that claim if Seattle goes back-to-back with wins over Brady and Peyton Manning.
2. Last February, Manning had his chance to solidify his argument as the best quarterback ever against the Seahawks and fell woefully short. Now Brady gets a golden opportunity in his record sixth Super Bowl appearance. On the flip side, Russell Wilson has conjured memories of a young Brady in his ability to find instant success at a young age. Like Brady, Wilson has always played like a quarterback wise beyond his years. Now the two passers collide.
3. The Seahawks didn't escape the Packers unscathed. Cornerback Richard Sherman suffered an ugly elbow injury that left him playing with one arm in crunch time Sunday. At press time the Seahawks are saying that Sherman had X-rays on the injured arm and they came back negative, he says he will be ready.
5. You have to love this coaching matchup. Belichick is widely seen as peerless in his field, but the team of Pete Carroll, defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell -- in what will likely be their last game as a unit -- won't be embarrassed. Just think back to last year, when Carroll and company coached circles around an overmatched John Fox. It's a big reason why Fox loaded up his U-Haul for Chicago.
4. The Patriots' unending run with Belichick and Brady has placed the organization in rarefied air in the sport's history. The Patriots will be making their eighth Super Bowl appearance, which ties them with the Cowboys and Steelers for the most all-time. Urgency was never going to be a problem for the Patriots, but Belichick and Brady understand they won't have too many more opportunities like this.
6. We get a healthy Rob Gronkowski for Super Bowl week. This is both fun and important. The All-Pro tight end played on a badly sprained ankle in his first trip to the Super Bowl in 2012. There are many Pats fans that will go to the grave believing there's no way they lose to the Giants a second time if not for the treacherous Bernard Pollard. Now Gronk is 100 percent and looming as a major X-factor against a banged-up Seattle secondary.
7. This will be the first time these teams play each other since Week 6 of the 2012 season. You may remember that as the "U Mad Bro?" game, a moment that launched Sherman into the greater national consciousness and surely infuriated Brady (even if he'll never admit it). Expect both players to be asked about their shared history in the relentless manner that's unique to Super Bowl week.