FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- With the New England Patriots going on the offensive against the NFL over the past week, which included releasing emails on Wellsreportcontext.com, it has drawn more attention to the league's handling of the investigation into the team's underinflated footballs.
The battle lines have essentially been drawn this way: It's integrity of the game (NFL's view) vs. integrity of the league office (Patriots' view).
With this in mind, a question was sparked by a reader about the procedures followed by NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent and NFL vice president of game operations Mike Kensil at halftime during the AFC Championship.
By the NFL's letter of the law (aka the league's constitution and bylaws), they technically were not allowed inside the game officials' locker room. Yet as the Wells report details (page 66), both Kensil and Vincent were overseeing, in some form, the process of football measurements inside the officials' locker room at halftime.
In the tampering section of the constitution and bylaws, Article IX Section 9.3 (B) reads, "No owner or person holding any interest in a member club, nor any officer, stockholder, director, or partner thereof, nor any officer or employee of the League, or a member club thereof, shall enter the dressing room of a game official."
I checked in with the NFL about this, and was referred to spokesman Brian McCarthy’s statement from Monday morning to Pro Football Talk.
“The interpretation has always been that no one should enter the game officials locker room unless on official business,” McCarthy said. “League, club, and security people enter the officials locker rooms at every game to assist them with various functions. It is standard procedure. If the officials have an issue with anyone entering their locker room inappropriately, they would report it to security people at the site or to the head of officiating.
“This isn’t anything new or different. Various people with official game day functions enter the room. For example, your SNF crew goes into officials’ locker room for the standard 90-minute meeting before the game. The meeting includes someone from the broadcasting crew, the officials, officiating observer, the home and away PR reps, green hat, orange sleeves. This happens at every NFL game.”