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Putting #Deflategate To The Test

ARUN RATH, HOST:

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick held a surprise press conference yesterday, not to talk about next week's Super Bowl, but about, well, you know, deflated footballs.

(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)

BILL BELICHICK: As far as I know and everything that I can do, we did everything as right as we could do it.

RATH: In case you've been living under a rock, 11 out of the 12 balls used by the Patriots in their AFC championship win last week were allegedly underinflated by about 2 pounds per square inch. We wanted to know just how much that changes how the football feels. And we sent our producer Tom Dreisbach to find out.

TOM DREISBACH, BYLINE: First, let me introduce you to my expert witnesses.

DEVIN BULLOCK: How are you doing? I'm Devin Bullock. I play receiver for Occidental College.

DREISBACH: Number seven - five touchdowns last season.

BRYAN SCOTT: My name is Bryan Scott. I play quarterback for Occidental College.

DREISBACH: He's number 18 - threw 17 touchdowns last season. Occidental is a Division 3, NCAA football team. And I met Devin and Bryan at their home field to do a completely unscientific experiment. I brought a pump, a pressure gauge and an official-size NFL football. First, we just set a baseline. I pumped the ball to the regulation pressure between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. And to me that felt very pumped up, but to the players...

Feels normal.

SCOTT: Yeah. It feel - I mean, it feels like a game ball that we would use.

BULLOCK: It feels regular.

DREISBACH: Just be sure, they threw the ball around a couple times.

SCOTT: Ready, set.

DREISBACH: No real surprises there. Now to the real test.

Let's try deflating it.

The Patriots footballs were allegedly inflated to about 10.5 pounds per square inch.

BULLOCK: And now you're good.

DREISBACH: The gauge reads 10.5.

So first, just your initial thoughts. How does it feel?

SCOTT: It feels a lot easier to grip for sure, probably easier to throw it farther. What do you think, Dev?

BULLOCK: I guess as a receiver I don't notice that much, but when you do, like, kind of press on it pretty hard, you can feel it go in a little more.

DREISBACH: Do you think you could eyeball a difference?

SCOTT: No. Definitely not.

DREISBACH: Then Bryan and Devin take the ball out for a test drive.

SCOTT: Red 19, red 19, ready, set, hut.

DREISBACH: They complete a couple passes about 25 yards out then try mixing it up.

SCOTT: We've been doing two-handed catches, so we're - I'm going to have Devin do a fade route right now and he's going to try and catch it one-handed. Red 13, red 13, ready, set, hut.

DREISBACH: The ball goes up. Number seven, Devin Bullock, reaches out with his left hand and completion.

SCOTT: Yeah, first try he caught it one-handed, so (laughter).

DREISBACH: Hear, let me just ask you, how does it feel different when you're catching?

BULLOCK: It wasn't that much of a difference, I would say, but when it gets into your hands, I felt like it was easier to just, like, kind of corral it, grab it.

DREISBACH: Over all, their verdict - sure, under-inflating the ball helps a little. If we had been in rainy New England instead of sunny LA, deflating might even give a real advantage. But Devin Bullock says it probably didn't make a big difference when the Patriots stomped the Colts last week.

BULLOCK: Maybe we'd have something to talk about if they only won by a field goal. It was just kind of the game was 45 to seven, so it was, like - it definitely wasn't the only reason the Patriots won.

DREISBACH: In other words, two PSI does not equal 38 points. That does it for my quick experiment. Meanwhile, the NFL's investigation is ongoing. Tom Dreisbach, NPR News.

SCOTT: Red 25, red 25, ready, set, hut. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.