- Mark Schlabach, ESPN Senior Writer
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Washington State coach Mike Leach has a solution for the NFL's Deflategate controversy: Give every team deflated footballs and let them fill them how they want.
On Tuesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the league's four-game suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. The Patriots are accused of deflating their game balls below the NFL's minimum of 12.5-13.5 pounds of air. Goodell ruled that Brady knew about the practice and supported it.
On Wednesday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft heavily criticized Goodell's decision to uphold the suspension of Brady, a three-time Super Bowl MVP, and apologized to his team’s fans for accepting "the harshest penalties in history of the NFL for an alleged ball violation."
The Patriots were fined $1 million and lost two draft picks as part of their punishment.
Leach, whose teams have produced some of the most prolific passing attacks in the country over the past several seasons, said the NFL is making too much of a deal about how footballs are inflated. He said a football's air pressure really doesn't affect a game's outcome.
"Give them an empty football and let them fill it however they want to," Leach said during an appearance at ESPN on Wednesday. "If your quarterback wants a deflated football, your soccer-style kicker is going to want it kind of full. If your quarterback wants it really full, your straight-on kicker is going to want less air in it. It's a regulation football; let them use it however they want to. You use your own ball."
Leach said the NFL and its fans should focus their energy and attention on more important issues.
"It's kind of disturbing if you think about it," Leach said. "With everything that’s going on, we're worried about how much air goes into a ball when everybody uses their own ball. It's not like it's a forged football.
"We waste a lot of time with that, and then we worry about the Kardashians. How can it be that we laugh about England's obsession with the royal family? At least the royal family has college degrees and military service."
10hDavid M. Hale