A few of Long Island's veteran football coaches weighed in on the DeflateGate issue Thursday after a federal judge overturned the four-game suspension imposed by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.
"Taking the air out of game balls to get an advantage to win a game is breaking the rules," Freeport coach Russ Cellan said. "It's clear and simple. If someone intentionally took the air out of the balls knowing they were breaking the rules, then it's cheating. If you circumvent the rules, with the perception of cheating, you should be punished."
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Cellan, who has been the coach at Freeport for the past 30 years, was asked if he thinks any area high school coaches would deliberately tamper with the air in footballs.StoryTom Brady 'DeflateGate' court decisionStoryPats-Steelers spread changes after Brady rulingStoryReaction from around the NFL
"I've never heard of it being an issue at the high school level. Heck, I've never even had a pressure gauge," he said. "I couldn't tell you how much air was in any of our footballs. We go by feel. If it feels light, then it's light."
According to the National High School Federation rulebook, game balls are to be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI. Officials are required to check all game balls before kickoff.
"We've had a few balls thrown back to the sideline over the years," Cellan said. "And they ask us to put some air in them. So we fill 'em up."
Cellan said the Brady controversy is more about ethics and following the rules. "If you go through a stop sign at 3 in the morning and there's no police around and you get away with it, you still broke the law," he said. "If you took air out of the footballs and no one checked the balls and you got away with it, you still broke the rules."
Sayville coach Rob Hoss, in his 14th year, said the quarterback's feel for the football has everything to do with his success.
"I can definitely see when a guy that needs a little less air in a football because he can't get a good grip," Hoss said. "In high school, a kid might have smaller hands and one or two pounds makes a big difference. Some balls are a little softer than others. There are many factors in getting the right grip.
"If it's really cold, the ball becomes really slippery," he said. "And when it rains, it's tough to throw at all. Size of hands, weather and arm angles affect the grip and the control."