PHOENIX -- Former NFL quarterback Jeff Blake says he oversaw the deflation of footballs on the sideline right before games during his career. Speaking on "The Midday 180" out of Nashville, Blake said the practice was common.
"I'm just going to let the cat of the bag, every team does it, every game, it has been since I played," Blake said. "'Cause when you take the balls out of the bag, they are rock hard. And you can't feel the ball as well. It's too hard. Everybody puts the pin in and lets just enough air out of the ball that you can feel it a little better. But it's not the point to where it's flat.
"So I don't know what the big deal is. It's not something that's not been done for 20 years."
Many other NFL quarterbacks have said the opposite, that they've never messed with the inflation of a ball or seen anyone do so. The topic has come to the forefront with the New England Patriots being investigated by the NFL due to allegations the team used underinflated footballs in the first half of the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.
Asked to be specific about the timing of deflation, Blake said it regularly happened as soon as quarterbacks got the balls before the game.
"As soon as they give them the balls," Blake said. "On the sideline before the game. The quarterbacks would come out to warm up in pregame ... I would just say, 'Take a little bit out, it's a little bit hard.' And then they'd take a little bit out and I'd squeeze them and say 'That's perfect.' That's it."
Blake played for seven teams in 13 seasons, starting 100 games. His longest tenure was six seasons with Cincinnati.
His last year was 2005, so during his career when his team was on the road, Blake would not have handled the footballs until pregame.
In 2006, NFL quarterbacks successfully got the NFL to change the rules and allow each team to provide its own balls for games, which would then be turned over to officials before the game.
Paul Kuharsky co-hosts "The Midday 180" on 104.5 The Zone in Nashville.