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No ‘Deflategate’: NFL says just a defective ball in preseason game

PHILADELPHIA — No investigation or federal case needed this time. The NFL says a bad football used in a preseason game Thursday night was simply defective.

The league said in a statement Friday that a ball was removed from play during the third quarter of the Steelers-Eagles game in Philadelphia and will be sent back to manufacturer Wilson for review.

Questions about an underinflated football flared among fans online after the preseason opener when a sideline radio reporter tweeted that he saw a ball looking “VERY deflated” after an incompletion thrown by Pittsburgh rookie Mason Rudolph.

That immediately brought back reminders of “Deflategate,” the scandal caused when New England Patriots superstar Tom Brady used underinflated footballs during the 2015 AFC championship game. Brady was ultimately suspended four games in 2016 for his role in a case that climbed all the way to a federal appeals court.

The saga prompted the NFL to change how it handles footballs before and during games.

NFL officials say all the proper procedures were followed during the game Thursday night.

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