Wilson Sporting Goods provides at least 24,960 official game footballs each season — 780 per team — for game use. Before each game, the footballs are prepared according to the NFL's rules. Here are the official game ball procedures.
Two hours and 15 minutes prior to kickoff, both teams will be required to bring 24 footballs (12 primary and 12 back-up) to the Officials’ Locker Room for inspection. Two Game Officials, designated by the Referee, will conduct the inspection and record the PSI measurement of each football. The League’s Security Representative or the NFL Football Operations representative will observe the inspection process. Primary game balls for each team will be numbered one through 12, and any game ball within the allowable range of 12.5 PSI to 13.5 PSI will be approved, and the PSI level will not be altered. Any game ball that is determined to be over 13.5 PSI or under 12.5 PSI will either be deflated or inflated to 13.0 PSI. The same procedure will be followed with respect to the back-up set of game balls for each team, which will be numbered B1 through B12. Game balls approved for a previous game can be submitted, provided they meet the standards of a new ball.
Upon approval, each game ball and back-up ball will be stamped with the Referee’s distinctive mark down the middle of the non-insignia panel. The number of the ball will be placed at the same location. A game ball or backup ball will not be approved after receiving six Referee marks.
Once the game balls are approved by the Referee, the K-Ball Coordinator (KBC) will take custody of and remain responsible for the security of the game balls and back-up balls for each club. They will remain in the custody of the KBC until 10 minutes prior to kickoff. At that point, the KBC along with a designated Game Official and the League’s Security Representative will bring the footballs to the on-field replay station. Upon arrival, the game balls will be distributed to each club’s Ball Crew in the presence of the Security Rep. The back-up balls will remain in the officials’ locker room and will be secured to the satisfaction of the Referee prior to the KBC leaving for the playing field. Clubs may not pre-elect to use their back-up footballs in the second half.
At randomly-selected games, the game balls used in the first half will be collected by the KBC at halftime, and the League’s Security Representative will escort the KBC with the footballs to the Officials’ Locker room. During halftime, each game ball for both teams will be inspected in the locker room by designated members of the officiating and security crews, and the PSI levels will be measured and recorded. Once measured, those game balls will then be secured and removed from play.
For these randomly-selected games only, the back-up footballs will be used for each team during the second half. Approximately three minutes prior to the second half kickoff, the KBC, along with a designated Game Official and the league's Security Representative, will bring the back-up set of game balls to the on-field replay station to be distributed to each club’s Ball Crew. Designated Game Officials will alert each team to the use of the backup balls prior to the start of the second half.
At the end of any randomly-selected game, the KBC will return the footballs from each team to the Officials’ Locker Room where they will be inspected and the PSI levels will be recorded.
All game ball information will be recorded on the Referee’s Report, which must be submitted to the League office by noon on the day following the game.
All gauges will be certified prior to each season by Wilson Sporting Goods. Each Referee will be provided with a primary and backup gauge. NFL Football Operations will maintain a backup supply, as well. The same gauge will be used for pregame, halftime, and postgame testing. In the event the primary gauge becomes inoperable at any time following the pregame inspection, the backup gauge will be used for any remaining inspections, and the use of the backup gauge will be noted in the Referee’s Report.
NFL Football Operations’ mission is to establish a culture of clarity, consistency and credibility in all aspects of the greatest game. Football is an essential piece of America’s fabric, uniting fans, players and communities with a simple yet powerful bond. We honor the game’s history while continuing to innovate and preserve the sport for future generations of fans, players, coaches, teams and officials.