Quarterback Brad Johnson revealed that he paid to have the footballs at Super Bowl XXXVII altered to be more comfortable in his hand, according to Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. Johnson led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 48-21 win over the Oakland Raiders.
Johnson completed 18 of 34 passes for 215 yards with two touchdowns and one interception, while Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon tossed five interceptions in the loss. Both Johnson and Gannon used the same footballs in the game, so how much of an advantage Johnson gained over Gannon by altering the balls to his liking is difficult to gauge.
Per Stroud, Johnson struggled to grip wet, cold or out-of-the-box footballs and was forced to wear a glove in the NFC Championship. With the NFL supplying 100 new footballs for the Super Bowl, Johnson said that he made sure the balls would be prepped to his liking.
"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."
How much did it cost Johnson? "Seventy-five hundred (dollars)," he said.
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The NFL changed the rules in 2006 to allow quarterbacks the chance to scuff and rub up their game balls, breaking them in. Prior to that rule change, only the home team's quarterback was allowed to alter the balls in such a way.
Although Johnson admitted this several years ago, his claim is now gaining attention thanks to "DeflateGate." Johnson's alterations weren't quite as one-sided as the current reports involving the New England Patriots in which Tom Brady and the New England offense were reportedly using partially deflated balls that are easier to throw and catch, while the Indianapolis Colts had properly inflated ones.