‘De-Flate Gate’ & RCA

By Bob Latino

March 20, 2020

Reading Time: 2 minutes


‘De-Flate Gate’ & RCA


For those that are football enthusiasts and looking forward to the upcoming Superbowl, we are intrigued by the recent scandal in the NFL. The scandal involves the allegation that somehow the New England Patriots’ footballs used in the game against the Colts last week, were deflated and did not meet the minimum PSI requirements of the NFL to be ‘legal’ for game use. The allegation involves the possible tampering of the NE footballs to attain that ‘deflated’ state. Conceivably this would make it more desirable to throw and catch in the conditions of the game.

For full disclosure, I am not a fan of any team that was in the play offs, so I have no skin in the game :-)…no pun intended.

However, I am in the Root Cause Analysis (RCA) game and the allegation is intriguing from the investigation standpoint.

Just for your consideration, this is the FACT we know as reported in the news.

‘ The New England footballs (12 of them) were measured for pressure after game. This was a result of allegations made during the game. 11 of the 12 footballs tested did not meet the minimum NFL psi requirements.’

At this point, here is what we don’t know and what investigators (RCA Analysts) should be asking?

  1. Were the Colt’s footballs measured as well after the game, so a comparison could be made between each teams’ sets of footballs and their psi measurements?
  2. Were the devices that were used to originally measure the pressure (psi) in the footballs, calibrated so they were known to be accurate? Could the footballs have been in a ‘deflated’ state initially simply because of a faulty measuring device, and thus approved based on a non-calibrated reading?
  3. Were the devices that were used to measure the pressure (psi) in the footballs post-game, calibrated so they were known to be accurate?
  4. Could the temperatures involved between the time the footballs were initially inflated and measured (likely inside and under controlled temperatures), versus their use in the game (cold and wet), have been a factor? Essentially, could some pressure have been lost due to the dramatic temperature swings?
  5. Were all the New England footballs deflated to the same rate/level or did they fluctuate? Wouldn’t it be very difficult to secretly and intentionally deflate all 11 footballs to the exact same psi level (or close)?

I don’t know where this scandal will end up, but these are the questions that go through the minds of investigators when such incidents occur!

Do you have any of the answers to these questions?

About the Author
Robert (Bob) J. Latino is former CEO of Reliability Center, Inc. a company that helps teams and companies do RCAs with excellence.  Bob has been facilitating RCA and FMEA analyses with his clientele around the world for over 35 years and has taught over 10,000 students in the PROACT® methodology.

Bob is co-author of numerous articles and has led seminars and workshops on FMEA, Opportunity Analysis and RCA, as well as co-designer of the award winning PROACT® Investigation Management Software solution.  He has authored or co-authored six (6) books related to RCA and Reliability in both manufacturing and in healthcare and is a frequent speaker on the topic at domestic and international trade conferences.

Bob has applied the PROACT® methodology to a diverse set of problems and industries, including a published paper in the field of Counter Terrorism entitled, “The Application of PROACT® RCA to Terrorism/Counter Terrorism Related Events.”

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