Meanwhile, in the wake of reports that the NFL uncovered 11 underinflated footballs used by the Patriots in their 45-7 AFC Championship Game victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick -- whose history already includes the Spygate incident -- is being targeted for breaking the rules once again.
But Madden says the logical person behind any changes in the football would be the quarterback.
"That would have to be driven by the quarterback," Madden told The Sports Xchange on Wednesday. "That's something that wouldn't be driven by a coach or just the equipment guy. Nobody, not even the head coach, would do anything to the football unilaterally, such as adjust the amount of pressure in a ball, without the quarterback not knowing. It would have to be the quarterback's idea."
Madden, who serves as a consultant to commissioner Roger Goodell and is on a couple of subcommittees that oversee various elements of the game, says he believed Belichick, who said this week that he knew nothing about it.
"Yeah, I believe him," Madden said. "I can see -- and you hate to make examples of what you can see because that sounds like you are accusing someone -- but I can see that being between the quarterback and the equipment guy.
"He is the effected, he is the only guy," Madden said, referring to the quarterback. "I heard some of the pundits saying the ball is easier to catch, but that would never, ever, ever be done for that unless the quarterback wanted it. You wouldn't do something for a receiver to catch the ball if the quarterback couldn't throw it. So it's going to be done for the quarterback."
Adding some credence to Madden's perspective, former Tampa Bay quarterback Brad Johnson claimed he personally paid somebody to alter the footballs before Super Bowl XXXVIII, in which the Bucs defeated the Oakland Raiders as Johnson completed 18 of 34 passes for 215 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
Johnson told the Tampa Bay Times that he paid $7,500 to do the deed, essentially described as scuffing the balls to Johnson's liking.
"I paid some guys off to get the balls right," Johnson said. "I went and got all 100 footballs, and they took care of all of them."
Jon Gruden coached that Tampa Bay team and said Wednesday on ESPN radio that he was aware Johnson was concerned about being able to grip the balls in that Super Bowl. However, Gruden did not say whether he knew if anything was done to the ball and, if so, if he thought it was illegal.
Madden explained that procedures have changed since that Super Bowl, which used 100 balls to keep them fresh until the end of the game, and then have more Super Bowl souvenirs after the game.
"That was in the days when they used to get them for an hour or two and they would rough them up because when they come out of the box you kind of rub them down," Madden said. "You'd scuff them a little so that would help your grip."
Madden said the rules changed, largely due to the efforts of quarterback Peyton Manning, who wanted quarterbacks to handle the balls before the game. So since 2006 it has not been illegal for quarterbacks to handle the footballs before a game.
There is no question that a player's ability to grip the ball is impacted by how much it is inflated, but Madden is perplexed by comments from Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who claims to like the football inflated to the max, and maybe then some.
"Never heard that one," Madden said. "You learn when you are a kid that is it harder to handle a football or basketball, to grip them, when they are inflated too much and conversely it is easier to grip when they are underinflated."
Madden said it might be an easy task for somebody to use an inflating needle to take some air out of a football on the sideline, but wonders why take the chance because the officials should notice it.
"On every play, the ball is handled by two officials," he said. "It comes in from a ball boy to a wing official and into the spotting official, who is usually the umpire. So it's not like the officials don't touch those footballs because they do. I am surprised that if there were that many that they didn't know that."
Madden was himself involved in an odd piece of NFL history that involved altering the game ball.
"Back in the 70s, they had an idea to make the ball more visible at night they would put a white circle around the ball near each nose on the ball," he recalled. "But quarterbacks whose thumbs touched that white paint complained that it was slippery. So they made a space in the white paint designed to be where quarterbacks put their thumb."
But that didn't work for the Raiders because their quarterback at the time, Ken Stabler, was left-handed. When he gripped that football with his left hand, his thumb was still on the paint.
"So we were at a game I think was in Buffalo and Kenny complained," Madden recalled. "I wanted to do whatever he wanted, so we asked the officials to fix the balls for Stabler.
"They used something to scuff off the paint where Stabler's thumb would be and we played the game. The NFL doesn't use those stripes any more, but that is the story of how we invented the left-handed night football."
--Frank Cooney, founder and publisher of The Sports Xchange and NFLDraftScout.com, covered the NFL and the draft since the 1960s, including the Oakland Raiders in the 1970s, and is a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
source: huffingtonpost.com by Frank Cooney