NFL lawyers, Columbia physicists team up on Deflategate probe

0:54 | NFL
NFL turns to Columbia physicists for Deflategate probe
Wednesday January 28th, 2015

Lawyers hired by the NFL to investigate how footballs used by the New England Patriots during the AFC Championship Game got deflated asked the physics department at Columbia University in New York to help them understand if weather could affect a football’s air pressure, reports The New York Times.

According to the report, Lorin L. Reisner, a partner in the litigation department of the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, called Columbia’s physics department on Monday.

“He would like to consult with a physicist on matters relating to gas physics,” according to notes taken by an administrative manager.

• SI's complete coverage of Deflategate investigation

“Please let me know whether there is a Columbia professor who may be interested in and appropriate for this assignment,” Reisner later said in an email to the physics department.

The NFL is investigating how 11 of the 12 balls the Patriots used during the first half of their 45-7 rout of the Indianapolis Colts were deflated below the league’s standards.

One Columbia physicist said he was amused by questions concerning Deflategate.

“I think it’s more likely than not that they were manipulated,” William Zajc said.

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Jeff Pash, the NFL's top lawyer, and Ted Wells, who led the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal, are heading up the investigation, which is expected to take several weeks to complete.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick gave his reasoning on Saturday as to why the footballs were deflated and denied having any knowledge of how they got that way.

Robert Kirshner of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said after the press conference that Belichick might want to stick to football.

“I think Belichick is better at keeping pressure on the passer than passing a physics test,” Kirshner said.

- Scooby Axson

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