You can now breathe easy, boruch Hashem.
NFL officiating chief Dean Blandino says the inspection of the footballs by referee Walt Anderson before the AFC championship game was handled properly, AP reports.
Blandino also said Thursday the process of checking the footballs and security surrounding the inspections will be enhanced for Sunday’s Super Bowl.
As the league’s investigation into the Patriots’ use of under-inflated footballs moves along, Blandino made it clear the officiating crew for New England’s win over Indianapolis did its job.
“My major concern is did we follow proper protocol?” Blandino said. “Everything was properly tested and marked before the game. Walt gauged the footballs himself; it is something he has done throughout his career.
Super Bowl referee Bill Vinovich and his staff will be looking over a lot more footballs this week.
Normally, 12 balls per team are brought to the officials’ locker room before a game, where they are tested and marked by the referee. This week, each team gets 54 footballs – many are given to charity after brief game usage – and all of them will be taken into custody by the NFL on Friday after the Seahawks and Patriots have prepared them.
The footballs will be inspected by Vinovich three hours before kickoff, and Blandino said there will be “added security because of the environment we are in for this game.”