"John Leonard is a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who roots for the Philadelphia Eagles, listens to sports talk radio when he is exercising, and teaches a course called Measurement and Instrumentation. When the Deflategate story broke after last year’s A.F.C. championship game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts, he found himself fixated on it, yearning to dig into it from a scientific point of view.
On the off chance you have spent the last year on Mars, Deflategate refers to the scandal that ensued after the Colts accused the Patriots of deflating their footballs to give quarterback Tom Brady an unfair edge — an accusation that the N.F.L. and its commissioner, Roger Goodell, ultimately determined was probably true.
'Of course, I thought of the Ideal Gas Law right away,' Leonard says, 'but there was no data to test it.' Although the N.F.L. had measured the pounds per square inch (p.s.i.) of the Patriots’ footballs at halftime after the Colts complained — under the rules, game balls must be inflated to pressures ranging from 12.5 to 13.5 p.s.i. — it had not released any numbers."