January 26, 2015 / 10:44 PM / in 3 years

Impartial staff to handle Super Bowl game-day balls

January 10, 2015; Seattle, WA, USA; Seattle Seahawks tight end Luke Willson (82) celebrates after he runs the ball in for a touchdown against the Carolina Panthers during the second half in the 2014 NFC Divisional playoff football game at CenturyLink Field. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX (Reuters) - Like nearly everyone else in America, Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll knows more about footballs than he did a week ago as a controversy over deflated balls continued to dominate the Super Bowl buildup on Monday.

Until the New England Patriots' blowout victory in the AFC championship, game-day balls were seldom given a second thought but are now the subject of an NFL investigation.

Everything from who has access to the balls, to the process for selecting them and the inflation figures have been debated.

"Maybe everyone would think you should have seen it before but I never checked on how the whole process of how our footballs were handled until this week," Carroll told reporters.

"This one has not been looked at as maybe intently as it is now. I know every step of it now. ... So my awareness is up. It will never be the same because of what just happened."

Each year, 700,000 footballs are produced for official NFL use, including 72 that will be used in Sunday's Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, between New England and Seattle.

Given the current scandal, those 72 balls are likely to come under intense scrutiny.

As is custom, the NFL's procedure for selecting Super Bowl balls, which must be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch, will differ from other games during the season.

Both teams' quarterbacks will still be allowed to select the balls they want to use but, after that, independent equipment managers and ball attendants will handle the footballs.

"Like many aspects of our policies and procedures, there are modifications for the Super Bowl," NFL spokesman Michael Signora said in a statement.

"At the Super Bowl, the equipment manager of another team (Bears, Tony Medlin) is in charge of the game balls and arranging for the ball attendant crews, which are hired before the Super Bowl teams are determined.

"The officials will maintain strict control of the game balls for the Super Bowl."

Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson only concerns when it comes to footballs is that he has one to throw.

"In terms of the football pregame, I just want to have a football out there to throw. That’s all I look forward to," said Wilson.

Editing by Frank Pingue

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