The National Football League has yet to issue a decision regarding its investigation into deflategate and why New England Patriot's footballs had less air pressure than NFL requirements during the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.  Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick have issued denials of any wrongdoing.

However, according to Boston College Physics Professor Michael Naughton, “assuming the balls were initially inflated inside and the refs measured the balls inside and then later outside, weather was a factor,” says Naughton. “It’s not possible for weather not to have played a role.”

Naughton, Chair of the Physics department,  was interviewed by WGBH Morning  Edition host Bob Seay about the science of  pressure within a football.

 Naughton, who is a self-professed Buffalo Bills fan, says a football that has been inflated immediately begins losing pressure once it is placed in colder temperatures. Because the NFL has yet to say what the room temperature was where the balls were inflated, and to how many pounds per square inch (PSI) the balls were inflated, Naughton offers this scenario:

“Say you inflated the ball to 12.5 PSI - the NFL minimum - in a room at 70 degrees, and then used the ball outside where it was 50 degrees. That 12.5 PSI would eventually become 11.5 PSI. If you inflate the ball to 12.5 PSI in an even warmer room where it was, say, 80 degrees, and then played outdoors at 40 degrees, that 12.5 PSI would become 10.5 PSI – a drop of two PSI’s.

“It was 51 degrees at the start of the game; it could have been in the area of 40 degrees by halftime. You can get one or two PSI’s just by temperature.”


Naughton says the footballs of the Indianapolis Colts would have also lost air pressure – but if the PSI starting point was higher than the balls of the Patriots, the Colts’ balls could have still stayed above the NFL minimum.

Super Bowl forty-nine between the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks is this Sunday.

You can listen to the entire interview with Professor Naughton by clicking on the link above.