With the New England Patriots being investigated for deflating footballs during their NFC championship win against the Indianapolis Colts, stories of ball manipulation are everywhere. As well as horrible jokes about manipulating balls.
One of those stories comes courtesy of former Bucs quarterback Brad Johnson, who apparently paid a few folks $7,500 to mess up all 100 new footballs prior to playing in Super Bowl XXXVII, he told the Tampa Bay Times. The Bucs dominated that game, but it's still a thing that happened.
"I wouldn't have been able to play without it," he said.
At the Super Bowl, the NFL had 100 footballs. They were new, slick and supposedly under the league's watchful eye. But not leaving anything to chance, Johnson made sure the balls were scuffed and ready well before the Dixie Chicks sang the national anthem.
"I paid some guys off to get the balls right," Johnson now admits. "I went and got all 100 footballs, and they took care of all of them."
Of course, altering footballs is more or less standard practice now. Quarterbacks get to scuff up the balls they'll use prior to any game, and they all have preferences about the kind of football they like to throw.
Brad Johnson told Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune that the money paid was just a trip, and that he scuffed those footballs after talking it over with Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon.
Still, we can add that to the "Jon Gruden knew all the signals" for the reasons the Bucs actually won then. You know, aside from the fact that they were much, much better than the Raiders that game.
Updated to add Brad Johnson's reaction.