About 16 months ago, the New England Patriots blasted the Indianapolis Colts 47-7 in the AFC Championship game. The blowout should've faded into irrelevance like every playoff blowout before it, but because of some "under-inflated" footballs, the NFL's vast legal war chest and the perception that commissioner Roger Goodell is out to "get" Tom Brady, the animal now known as Deflategate just won't roll over and die already.
But a brave group of scientists have discovered the potential smoking gun for Brady's legal team should they use their collective expertise in court: science. A brief filed on Tuesday from 21 professors at 10 different universities, including MIT, Stanford and Penn, put the science of football air pressure at the forefront to argue for Brady's case.
As the group of engineers and physicists explained candidly in the brief, "there is no scientific proof of wrongdoing."
Here's how: Applying the the ideal gas law to Deflategate, they posit that the loss of air pressure in the footballs occurred naturally, because it's basic science. When an object containing air (a football) moves from a warm environment (a locker room) to a colder one (a January night in New England), its pressure decreases.
"While the league understands this now, it apparently did not know before this case that footballs lose pressure naturally," they science-splained.
The brief went on to fillet Goodell for ignoring not only basic science, but the "science" of his own report. The NFL's investigation of Deflategate yielded the Wells Report, which stated that the ideal gas law indeed accounted for much of the air pressure loss -- because again, science -- but it still gave Goodell a Brady tampering angle: a tiny amount of lost air pressure couldn't be naturally accounted for.
That's hardly a surprise though. The company who provided the Wells Report's scientific analysis, Exponent, is known for producing questionable conclusions to favor whoever's paying them. These 21 scientists, who filed their brief independently of the NFL or Brady, concluded that the unaccounted air pressure -- the so-called "tampering" -- constitutes a mere margin of error.
In other words: No football air pressure tampering happened because it's scientifically impossible. See, NFL, that's how real science works! The Wells Report's findings, in the opinion of the group, was not based in "science," but rather a "scientifically worded surmise."
To further prove their point, the professors obtained field-temperature data for over 10,000 NFL games dating back to 1960, and found that about 61 percent of all games would've been played with under-inflated footballs. Accounting for the specific air pressure the Patriots' footballs were initially set at, they found that 82 percent of the games would've had footballs considered under-inflated by NFL rules. As it turns out, the thing the NFL wants to suspend Brady over is an act of nature that happens all the time and nobody ever notices.
The scientists' brief comes one day after the Patriots quarterback filed an appeal for another hearing from the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday. In April, the court restored the NFL's four-game suspension against Brady for his involvement in Deflategate, ruling that Goodell didn't overstep his powers in suspending Brady, as a previous judge did.
In an altruistic display of their love for science, the 21 professors named in Tuesday's brief concluded, "In the name of science, we support the petition for rehearing."
The brief can be viewed in full below: