Almost exactly a year after the "Deflategate" scandal rocked the NFL, officials working the New England Patriots-Kansas City Chiefs divisional-round playoff game experienced another ball-related snafu.
Footballs specifically designated for kicking, as well as air pressure gauges, were left behind at the officials' hotel prior to last Saturday's game. Massachusetts state police ultimately delivered them about an hour before kickoff.
State police confirmed the incident Wednesday. Spokesman David Procopio described to ESPN's Mike Reiss what took place and how the police were involved:
At approximately 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Massachusetts State police at Logan airport were notified by the Hyatt Hotel on airport property that the officials at Gillette Stadium for that afternoon's Patriots' playoff game had left official, specially designated footballs and pressure gauges behind at the hotel. The hotel had been contacted by the NFL after it realized the equipment had been left behind.
State Police contacted an NFL security official at Gillette Stadium. NFL security requested State Police assistance in bringing the footballs and gauges to the stadium. The footballs in question are referred to as K-balls, short for kicking balls. They are the official footballs provided by the league for use in kicking plays.
A hotel employee retrieved the equipment. State Police Detective Lieutenant Thomas Coffey, who was on duty at Troop F that afternoon, along with the hotel employee, drove the K-balls and gauges to Gillette Stadium, arriving at approximately 3:30 p.m., and turned them over to the NFL.
With the NFL emphasizing increased security surrounding game balls and improved air pressure protocols in the wake of last season's scandal, it seems likely some discipline could be handed down to the officials involved.
The NFL has not yet commented on Saturday's situation.