Deflategate: Does temperature actually effect PSI?

During an AFC championship game in 2015, it was found that 11 of the 12 footballs being used were under-inflated compared to the league rules. During the NFL’s investigation, it was found that Tom Brady had a connection to the incident, and he was subsequently suspended for 4 games the following season. But this got me thinking, could the balls have actually just deflated on their own due to the poor weather conditions or was there a malicious act carried out  by the Patriots and their quarterback.


The ESPN show Sports Science dove into this issue. They found that, if exposed to 10 degree temperatures for a hour, the PSI drops 2.5 PSI (13.5 PSI to 11 PSI). Although this proves that there is a relationship between PSI and temperature, it doesn’t quite answer the question becasue the PSI in the football had dropped from 12.5 PSI to 10.5 PSI in only a hour and a half, in temperatures of about 51 degrees.

But supporters have since surfaced, claiming that the Patriots are not in the wrong, claiming that it is possible for PSI to change in that way given the right conditions. Bill Belichick, head coach of the Patriots, had come out and claimed that there was no purposeful tampering with the inflation of the balls, and that it was simply the right conditions for the PSI to drop in the way that it did. And multiple scientists have come out in support of the team, saying that it is simple physics,  if you have something in a warm area (locker room) and then move it to a cold area (the field) the air pressure of the balls would most definitely drop.


So with these multiple studies, the best we can do is question. There are legitimate arguments on both sides, and the only people that know what actually happened are the people that were directly involved.    We can conclude that temperature does affect the air pressure, but we are left uncertain if it can affect the air pressure in the way that it supposedly did during the AFC Championship game.


7 thoughts on “Deflategate: Does temperature actually effect PSI?

  1. Evan Michael Wentzel

    It is interesting that this whole thing is just simple physics, and there isn’t even a “scandal”. It seems to me from your post that we probably will never know if Brady is innocent or not, because the conditions may have been just right to cause the balls to deflate but also the odds of that being the reason seem slim, but, it is still possible. Just to be clear I’m not taking sides on this argument. Tom Brady is a crook.

  2. Sean Patrick Hickey

    I am a 49ers fan from California, so I have no ties or allegiances to the patriots or their rivals. That said I though this whole thing was overblown. At the end of the day, whether he did it or not it was a non factor, in the second half of the game, after the balls had been switched out, the pats blew out the colts. And even if he did do it its an equipment violation, which should amount to a fine and nothing else. And on top of all of that, the NFL didn’t even prove he did it. The million dollar investigation arrived at the conclusion that it was “more likely then not” that Brady had a part in it. And on that alone Goodell gave brady a harsher suspension than ray rice. It all just seems like Goodell let the power go to his head and he wanted to make an example of brady. But I though this was funny, , a seventh grader proved brady was innocent for his science project.

  3. Ryan Gregory Blank

    I love reading blogs that relate to sports. You did a great job finding information about the study. Due to the Patriots’ integrity in the past, it is very easy to easily assume that the deflategate was purposeful. It is very interesting to me though that there are scientists that are coming out and saying that such an extreme thing could have been completely possible. After all, you can’t rule out chance in this situation. Also, I would love to see where the scientists are from, if they are fans of the Patriots, or their reasoning for doing this study. I’m not accusing them of fraud but I think if they were fans of the Patriots, they may claim it was due to chance more than other scientists.

  4. Francis Patrick Cotter

    This was actually proven by a twelve-year-old whose last name was Goodell according to USA Today ( The kid conducted the same experiment that you are referring to. His findings added to the fact that the NFL’s ruling on the case was absurd. I wish that the NFL had used a scientist to find out if the patriots were guilty because I would have a shot at getting the 100$ that Andrew has offered.

  5. Thomas Garvin

    I like your blog especially because it furthers the discussion on the sportscience clip that I have already seen. However, I would have liked to seen more data from the studies that you refer to in support of the Patriots innocence. Are there any confounding third variables? Heres an article that furthers the discussion for support of Tom Brady and the Patriots innocence:

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