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NFL: Ref Inspected Footballs Properly

Friday, January 30, 2015
Phoenix — NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino said the inspection of the footballs by referee Walt Anderson before the AFC championship game was handled properly.

Blandino also said Thursday the process of checking the footballs and security surrounding the inspections will be enhanced for Sunday’s Super Bowl.

As the league’s investigation into the Patriots’ use of under-inflated footballs moves along, Blandino made it clear the officiating crew for New England’s win over Indianapolis did its job.

“My major concern is did we follow proper protocol?” Blandino said. “Everything was properly tested and marked before the game. Walt gauged the footballs himself; it is something he has done throughout his career.

“Officiating is not part of the investigation.”

Super Bowl referee Bill Vinovich and his staff will be looking over a lot more footballs this week.

Normally, 12 balls per team are brought to the officials’ locker room before a game, where they are tested and marked by the referee. This week, each team gets 54 footballs — many are given to charity after brief game usage — and all of them will be taken into custody by the NFL today after the Seahawks and Patriots have prepared them.

The footballs will be inspected by Vinovich three hours before kickoff, and Blandino said there will be “added security because of the environment we are in for this game.”

“It will not quite be like (protecting) the Stanley Cup, but there will be added security,” he said.

Bears head equipment manager Tony Medlin will be charged with guarding the footballs from today until he brings them to the stadium for Vinovich to inspect.

Just before kickoff, the footballs will be given to ball boys working the game. The host team for the Super Bowl, in this case the Cardinals, supplies the ball boys, along with one from each of the participating teams.

Blandino also promised the league will look into any changes of the specifications for the balls and how they are handled for games. The air pressure is not logged after inspection; the balls simply are marked as having passed, and ones that don’t are put aside.

Seahawks’ Lynch Talks

Phoenix — Marshawn Lynch changed the script and fired back at his critics.

After two days of giving only scripted answers, the Seattle Seahawks’ star running back gave his most extensive comments of Super Bowl week, mostly telling reporters why he won’t talk to them.

“I don’t know what story y’all trying to get out of me. I don’t know what image y’all trying to portray of me,” Lynch said Thursday.

“But it don’t matter what y’all think, what y’all say about me because when I go home at night, the same people that I look in the face — my family that I love, that’s all that really matter to me. So y’all can go make up whatever y’all want to make up because I don’t say enough for y’all to go and put anything out on me.”

When Lynch arrived at the podium, a man with a reporter’s credential who said he was a teacher asked him to give his students a “shoutout.”

But Lynch wouldn’t bite and began his unscripted statement.

“Y’all shove cameras and microphones down my throat,” Lynch continued. “But when I’m at home in my environment, I don’t see y’all, but y’all mad at me. And if you ain’t mad at me, then what y’all here for? I ain’t got nothing for y’all, though. I told y’all that.”

Lynch, who had spurned reporters’ efforts to get him to talk at mandatory news conferences Tuesday and Wednesday, seemed frustrated that they were still trying.

“I’m here preparing for a game. And y’all want to ask me these questions, which is understandable. I could get down with that. But I told y’all. I’m not about to say nothing. ... All of my requirements are fulfilled.”

Lynch praised his teammates, his hometown of Oakland, Calif., and his Family First Foundation. When asked who the best player on the Seahawks was, he said: “All of them.”

As he has all week, Lynch stayed five minutes before leaving.






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