Matt Ryan doesn’t believe deflating footballs is the norm

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who’s in Arizona for Pro Bowl, said likes footballs worn a little. (AP photo)

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who's in Arizona for Pro Bowl, said likes footballs worn a little. (AP photo)

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who’s in Arizona for Pro Bowl, likes footballs worn but not deflated. (AP photo)

The New England Patriots’ deflated footballs’ story has been an atypical blend of NFL controversy and fifth-grade humor. You know it’s different when even Sarah Ryan, the wife of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, is putting a screen shot of an amusing text conversation with her mother on Twitter with hashtags like #DeflatedBalls.

“Oh no. Really?” Matt Ryan said, laughing, on the phone from Arizona, where he’s preparing for this week’s Pro Bowl.

Yeah, really.

But one thing about this story has bugged me, other than the comments of coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, two of the most detailed-oriented individuals in NFL history, who would have us believe they had no idea that footballs had been deflated. (Yet, if we were to go with the theory that they’re innocent, wasn’t it odd that neither seemed the least bit upset about the revelation that somebody had tampered with their equipment?)

What I’ve wondered is: How common is this? I’ve covered the NFL off and on since 1983 and I’ve never heard that this was a regular practice. I saw the Twitter comments of Matt Leinart, who wrote, “Every team tampers with the football. Ask any Qb In the league, this is ridiculous!!”

Then again, Leinart has never been an NFL quarterback, so how would he know?

(Thank you, I’m here all week.)

So I put the question to Ryan: Is this common?

“I was talking to some of the guys here (at the Pro Bowl) about it, and everybody’s different,” he said. “I don’t think it’s uncommon for guys to get a ball the way they like it. Some guys are more picky than others. But as far as inflation or deflation, that’s not an issue for us.”

So you’ve never had a ball deflated to make it easier to throw?

“No. I’ve never thrown a deflated ball, except maybe in my youth.”

So what do you mean by, “get a ball the way you like it”?

“Our equipment guys, Brian Boigner and Jimmy Hay, know that I like my balls broken in a little. There’s a film that comes on them, so I’ll throw them in practice for a couple of weeks. But it’s nothing to do with the air pressure or anything like that. I don’t think it’s uncommon in the league for guys to want the ball beat up a little and worn in. But beyond that, it’s not that big of a deal to me. Our equipment guys joke that I’ll throw the ball right out of the wrapper. I really don’t care that much.”

Other than that, Ryan is staying away from the Patriots’ controversy, other than to say, “The NFL is so popular right now. Every little thing that comes up the week before the Super Bowl is going to be big. That’s part of the microscope we’re under.”

Ryan, speaking publicly for the first time since the end of the regular season, addressed some other topics pending with the Falcons. He can’t respond to questions about Dan Quinn, the team’s head coach in waiting and Seattle defensive coordinator, and also wouldn’t address the team’s new offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan (whose hiring hasn’t officially been announced by the team).

But here are some general thoughts on …

• Moving past the Falcons’ 6-10 season: “It’s still fresh in my mind and it was disappointing. It didn’t go the way any of us wanted to. But it’ll be exciting moving forward. Things will be a little bit different (with a new coaching staff), learning what to do. I’ll miss Smitty (former coach Mike Smith). He was great. But it also will be exciting to see what happens and I’m looking forward to it.”

• On whether he has spoken to Smith since his firing: “Yes. It was very personal. But I just told him how much I appreciated everything he had done for the organization and what he did for me and the way he conducted himself. I also appreciated that he gave me the opportunity to play from day one, and I’ll be forever thankful for that.”

• On if he has heard anything about potential changes in the offensive scheme: “I don’t really know, not at this point. I’m just trying to figure out what offense we’re running in the Pro Bowl.”

• On playing in his third Pro Bowl: “Any time you have the opportunity to play in this game, it’s special. I know in the past I’ve been in Hawaii so this is different but Arizona is nice too and you can tell they’re getting geared up for the Super Bowl.”

• On whether he’ll stay in town for the Super Bowl: “No. I’m flying back to Atlanta Monday. I’m at the point now where I’m not going to the Super Bowl until I’m playing in it.”

A recent writer’s dozen from the digital jukebox
— MyAJC: Al Horford finally past injuries and frustration with Hawks
— AJC: Stall, lie, cheat — it’s the Patriots’ way, and perfectly timed
— AJC: DeflateGate: It’s time for NFL to forfeit games for cheaters
— MyAJC: Walsh-Montana still top Belichick-Brady on coach-QB mountain
— AJC: Seattle’s Super Bowl only delays Falcons’ hiring of Dan Quinn
— AJC: Oddsmaker says Braves’ win total will be ‘low 70s’ (with reader poll)
— MyAJC: Braves’ moves carry Coppolella’s fingerprints
— AJC: There goes Evan Gattis as Braves take another big hit
— AJC: Quinn was tabbed as ‘Next Great Coach’ but can Falcons get him?
— AJC: UPDATE: Bowles goes to Jets but if Falcons get Quinn it won’t matter
— AJC: Falcons should talk to John Fox before making decision on Quinn, Bowles
— AJC: Rex Ryan going to Buffalo — and that’s not bad news for Falcons
— AJC: Nick Saban, the mercenary, takes on ex-Bulldog Jonathan Taylor
— MyAJC: Falcons’ backdrop not comforting for coaching search
— AJC: Falcons’ changes: Pioli’s role increases, so what does this mean for Dimitroff?
 

 

Reader Comments 0

83 comments
Mery Eva
Mery Eva

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jerunamo
jerunamo

Who cares, Hawks win again!!!!

SunDropMan
SunDropMan

"I did not have sexual relations with that football",  Tom "Clinton" Brady  (In reply to a question of how do you like your footballs?)

tekila1
tekila1

Matt Ryan spent his college years in Boston, likely hanging with NE players. 

I would take his word with a grain of salt.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Again, why do we ask Matt Ryan about ANYTHING regarding a real NFL quarterback?


Miley Cyrus could answer a question about a real NFL quarterback with as much cred as Matt Ryan. 


And he can't even twerk! Oooooo, or maybe he can and that's part of the problem. Matt Ryan and the Falcons won't ever even sniff the Superbowl again, so if Little #2 gets an opportunity to get a ticket and get in the big game, he better go for it!!!!!

willardkovacs
willardkovacs

@Wilbo Agreed!  Ryan also said Mike Smith was a GREAT coach.  that pretty much removes any credibility he might have had.  He is a vanilla Yes-Man for artie's milquetoast army

Big Wally
Big Wally

Schultz has written more articles about the Patriots than the Hawks.  Someone should find another career.

kumon
kumon

It's amazing how we get all sighed up for a new season. But deep down I know the Falcons don't have the players to make it to the Super Bowl. Yet I be hoping they can.

An American Patriot
An American Patriot

I’m at the point now where I’m not going to the Super Bowl until I’m playing in it.


Matt, you better see all you can up close.  IMO, it's going to be a long, long, long time before you or the Falcons are ever in the Super Bowl again.  Matt, you need to get a tad tougher and meaner.  You know, there are a lot of really good QB coming out of college in the next few years.  You could be replaced, you know.  Step it up a bit Matt.

Wilbo
Wilbo

Really? Here we have this simpleton stooge writing another airhead column. Doesn't Atlanta deserve better than this? 


And why ask Matt Fumble/INT Ryan about ANYTHING that concerns a real NFL quarterback?

NorwegianBlue
NorwegianBlue

@Wilbo I'm a big fan of Shultz, along with a lot of AJC readers. I'm also a fan of Ryan. He's a good QB and a class act. You, not so much.

GT71
GT71

@Wilbo  Yeah, yeah, yeah, we know AJC writers, the AJC website and the AJC in general are very sub-par and yeah, this is just more filler for SB and ad companies.

But don't take Ryan to task.  His comments were sane and lucid.  And as a QB, he's better than most but like most, needs a team around him.

Let's just wait and see.  

notPlanB
notPlanB

@GT71 @Wilbo  Falcons drafted MR with the 3rd pick in 2008. Not a great feat as a GM realizing they needed a QB and MR was the best available. It took 5 years for TD to get rid of the decent OL he inherited. From there, he diminished their potential down to dismal.

58Supersports
58Supersports

@Wilbo  You would fumble too if your a@@ was hit as much as his, with no line. As for ajc..I must agree a lot falls off the table, starting with this web site. All the sports reporter like to push their (liberal) opinions on all stories. You know which teams they like and which players they hate etc. instead of just giving the news. They use their jobs to push their on agenda.

Wilbo
Wilbo

@58Supersports @Wilbo Matt Ryan fumbled and gave away the San Francisco game (and a Superbowl trip) driving to score on a completely open field. No pressure, no defenders around, nothing. He just out-n-out all by himself dropped the snap on the most important drive of the season.

Ragweed
Ragweed

@Wilbo  yeah Leroy, I assume you would be such a pro to replace him in all respects. The only credible thing about you is the tone or your mouth....

CARMS
CARMS

Here's a fact Jeff.  You don't know what happened.  You don't know who knew what.  This I do know.  You don't believe in innocent until proven guilty.  

Archangel
Archangel

How would you know they're the most detailed oriented individuals in NFL history J-ff? I'd be surprised if you met either of them personally at all.


Your statements are as empty as your soul.

Zapp
Zapp

If it can be proven the coach ordered or the QB ordered, they get a hefty penalty (big money, multiple draft picks, put the coach off the team for a season).


I've used a partially deflated ball before, and it doesn't throw well (tends to wobble).  With the bad aerodynamics, it also doesn't spin well, which affects the accuracy.  Lastly, lets keep everything in perspective.  Both teams used the same balls, so Indy should have scored more points.  In the second half of the game, both teams had fully inflated balls.  The Patriots scored 28 points and Indy scored none.  Could it be possible that someone on the Indy side may have deflated the balls during the game?  Back to reality, I still think Belichick had this done to make Seattle believe they will do something in the superbowl to beat Seattle.  He's a master of the head games, so it looks like he wants his team to believe they are against the world to get their best performance.  Love him or hate him, wouldn't it be nice if he was the Falcon's head coach.

partlycloudy
partlycloudy

Brady and Belichick always cheated.  Spygate they got caught.  But the Colts caught them last fall and warned the Ravens. So time to ban them.  And remember, Brady denied paternity of his child with his ex-girlfriend.  And Belichick didn't want women reporters in the locker room.  These guys have gotten away with so much that I now have to want the Seahawks to win the game.

58Supersports
58Supersports

@partlycloudy  if really caught last fall why was nothing done and now its a big deal?  the rest you said is lol.

DenverDawg
DenverDawg

"UNTIL" (not "unless") I'm playing in it"...


nice.


optimism.  guess that's kinda important, too.

peanutgallery
peanutgallery

Classy > cheater any day of the week.


If you need to cheat to win then you didn't deserve it.

TaxiSmith
TaxiSmith

Cheating has become the American way: steroids in baseball, gambling, point shaving, paid off refs. Nothing surprises me anymore. I think the only safe haven for a sports fan is high school sports, but even that seems to be full of coaches ready to cheat (recruiting, money under the tale to parents) to get the upper hand. Lord help us.

notPlanB
notPlanB

@TaxiSmith  I'm 67 years old. Parents of people my age wanted more for us than they had. We learned that and wanted the same for ours. That was a mistake. The 40 yr old but especially the 20 yr olds feel so entitled they are ruining this country. Go Falcons!!!!!

DewieCheatem_n_Howe
DewieCheatem_n_Howe

He plays very few of his games in cold weather these days.  The deflated ball is easier to handle on both ends in the cold because the leather and the bladder are less pliant. Just play it like baseball with the balls for each team coming from the same bag at random and controlled by the officials.

TreeRollins
TreeRollins

Matt's a classy guy - boring, but classy all the same. He's not going to get into any of this.

AlternativeDawg
AlternativeDawg

Winning playoff games is not the norm for ryan either. Still cannot believe we pay 20M for a QB that muffed so bad in the NFC championship game. Big time players don't fumble snaps at crucial moments.

HonestInformed
HonestInformed

@AlternativeDawg  Matt Ryan is NOT the reason Atlanta has lost playoff games. Would you say any of the following are "big time players": Peyton Manning, Brady, Brees, Aaron Rodgers, Rivers & Romo ......because ALL of these guys have muffed/fumbled snaps during playoff games. Maybe you need to watch the Denver vs. Seattle SB from 2014 again if you have such a short memory!

Delbert_D
Delbert_D

I think wet vs. dry is more important. Make a rule for that. Also, ban gloves while they are at it.

MikeS777
MikeS777

Also, lets not forget, ESPN reported that the Colts had also complained to the league about NE using deflated balls in the regular season.  ESPN said the league was on alert about it which is probably why they are investigating it now.

Good column, Jeff.  I don't buy what Brady or Belichick is shoveling either.  Brady says in a talk show interview that he pefers deflated balls, joking about Gronk deflating them with spikes after TDs.  Then he says 12.5 psi is perfect for him which suggests he knows the difference between 12.5 psi and 13.5 psi.  But now he's saying he couldn't tell the difference with balls that were 10.5 psi.

I don't think they will ever find out what happened for real, but too much of this stinks like a cover up.

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

@DanJohn @MikeS777 Plausible deniability.  Brady and Belichick are parsing their responses.  Wonder about Brady's ability to defend his "I don't know anything about anything" disclaimer if it turns out SOMEBODY within the organization was willfully cheating.


And if it's established that it (cheating/deflating) happened once, you can be sure it's been going on for quite some time.

DanJohn
DanJohn

@MikeS777  Brady said he didn't alter the balls. I can believe that but he didn't say that he didn't have someone else alter them. It's not what he said it's what he didn't say. Plus he looked nervous in the press conference...like the cat that ate the canary.  

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@MikeS777 

How do you know that the balls were 10.5 psi? You don't!

My problem with the entire reporting on this story is this it is about as unscientific as it gets.  ZERO real data has been released but everyone seems to KNOW what the facts are.

OH_IO
OH_IO

Ironic, a week plus out from the Super Bowl and the big story is hot air. 

MikeS777
MikeS777

Yeah I think Ryan is smart to sort of stay out ofthis one.  I'm sure most QBs don't deflate their balls.  Still, Leinart may not be a prime example of a pro QB as far as performance, but he was in the game which meant he was there to see stuff.

At the end of the day, you are going to hear a bunch of "this is no big deal" talk from NFL personalities just like with Spygate.  You already have Marino and others saying they wouldn't be able to tell a difference in psi.  The fact is rules are there for a reason, and the Patriots keep breaking them.  Just because its NE doesn't mean we have to sweep this under the rug again like they have been doing Spygate.  All we hear about is how great this franchise is, as if we are all stupid enough to think stealing signals has no impact on games and everyone does it.  If everyone does it, produce their tapes too.  We only had the physical evidence from NE.

To me it's just a sickening example of putting success and money over integrity of the sport.  Everywhere else in life, there are dire consequences to cheating.



CARMS
CARMS

@MikeS777 KEEP breaking them?  Which ones were broken?  Taping in an illegal place on the sidelines?  Guilty as charged.  Deflating balls?  No one has been penalized nor charged yet.  So.....where is the keep cheating part?  Hmm, here is a reality.  You have no clue what happened, nor who is guilty.  Do you?

Delbert_D
Delbert_D

We know that playing in cold weather decreases the pressure in the football. My suggestion to the NFL is to play all games in domed stadia. Or, they could require an inflation ceremony after the national anthem. At the 2 minute warnings, check the balls again. If the game is in Green Bay at -20 degrees, don't require 12 psi as the minimum...the balls may explode. in all cases, hold Roger Goodell personally responsible for everything. The ball stops here.

MikeS777
MikeS777

@Delbert_D its not going to decrease them 2psi in less than 3 hours after they were inspected by officials though lol. 

CardiganBoy
CardiganBoy

@Delbert_D As was stated this morning by Mike Golic, Indy was playing in the same environment and the PSI for their footballs complied with the rules.


This may turn out to be another case of where denying your sin is much worse than the sin itself.