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Pro Bowl players deflate controversy surrounding Patriots’ footballs

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PHOENIX– Vontae Davis’ AFC Championship Game included one of the biggest football controversies of the year, and he did not know until days later.

The Indianapolis Colts Pro Bowl cornerback was playing against footballs that were reportedly underinflated, but as a defensive player, Davis admits he wouldn’t have known the difference.

“I don’t know too much about the inflated balls or how much they’re supposed to weigh,” Davis said. “I never knew about that until now.”

In football, the quarterback, running backs, receivers and center are the only players who are designed to touch the ball. If anyone else does, it is generally because of an interception or a fumble.

L.P. Ledouceur has a special interest in how much the ball weighs as a long-snapper for the Dallas Cowboys. The Pro Bowler knows for his kicker the heavier the ball, the farther it travels. Still, he does not think it matters.

“I don’t think it has any effect,” Ledoucuer said. “Balls that we’ve gotten over the years, I get balls that are slick, balls that are wet, balls that have snow, it doesn’t matter.”

Ledoucuer is among the majority of players who have spoken publicly that the subject is overblown, including another player who touches the ball frequently, Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen.

“I don’t think the game would’ve been much different without that,” he said.

While the action might not be that big of a deal, the offending team may have made it one because of their history.  In 2007 New England coach Bill Belichick was fined $50,000 by the league in the infamous “Spygate” scandal in which the Patriots were disciplined for recording Jets’ practices.

But if you ask Ledoucuer, that too is just fuel for the fire of people who do not like the Patriots.

“You’re always going to try to bash the best team, always try to knock them down, no matter what,” he said. “I think it’s just another ploy to get at them.”

One theory is that the balls were deflated by the cold. Every 10-degree drop in temperature lowers the pressure by one pound per square inch, according to meteorologist Brad Panovich on Twitter. But, as Panovich said, the game-time temperature of 52 degrees would not be enough of a drop.

Panthers kicker Graham Gano tweeted that kicking a flat ball would make a bigger difference than throwing or catching, but the teams do not supply the kicking balls, per the NFL rulebook. Those are handled exclusively by the league.

The league has not commented on any potential sanctions against the Patriots.

Blane Ferguson and Trey Lanthier contributed to this report.