NFL reportedly set to change guidelines for handling of game balls

NFL reportedly will introduce new protocols regarding handling of footballs at next week's owners' meetings

The well-versed mantra of "protect the ball" no longer applies to just receivers and running backs.

In the wake of the Deflategate scandal, the NFL is poised to take new steps to ensure footballs cannot be tampered with before or during games.

According to the Associated Press, the league is looking to change its guidelines regarding how footballs are handled. New rules involving the preparation, transport and inspection of balls are expected to be introduced next week at the owners' meetings in San Francisco.

The report corresponds with what Dean Blandino, the NFL's vice president of officiating, has been telling players in recent days. According to Indianapolis Colts linebacker Henoc Muamba, Blandino said, "the process of handling footballs before games will change from here on in the NFL."

Muamba indicated in a tweet that the NFL was experimenting with embedding microchips in footballs. Muamba didn't elaborate on what sort of experiments the league might be conducting, but the NFL could be looking for a technological solution to track footballs or measure air pressure.

The NFL could reveal new protocols regarding the handling of footballs after next week's meetings.

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for four games Monday after an NFL investigation concluded it was "more probable than not" that Brady was "generally aware" of team attendants deflating footballs. Brady is appealing the suspension.

In addition to Brady's suspension, the Patriots were stripped of their 2016 first-round and 2017 fourth-round draft picks and fined $1 million.

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