The NFL is putting a new type of football into use for the second week of the preseason as an experiment, and it has been met with some opposition from players.
The NFL has distributed balls with synthetic laces, as opposed to the traditional leather ones, to teams to practice with this week and use in this weekend's preseason games. NFL spokesman Michael Signora said that the choice of which footballs to use in practices and games this week remains up to the teams themselves.
A number of active, Pro Bowl-caliber quarterbacks already have lodged complaints about the newer balls to the NFLPA, claiming they can cause micro-cuts and alter a passer's throwing motion. There is some concern among the quarterbacks that this is the first step in implementing the synthetic-lace balls full-time.
In a statement, the NFL said: "The Competition Committee has approved a test in Week 2 of the preseason using footballs with synthetic laces, as opposed to the traditional leather laces. Clubs will have the option of practicing with synthetic laces footballs during the week preceding their Week 2 preseason game. Both balls will be on hand and available for use in Week 2 preseason games, at the option of the offensive club. Footballs with synthetic laces are traditionally used in college and high school football while leather laces are used at the NFL level."
One union source pointed out that this could open the door for Nike, a prominent football distributer at the college and high school levels, to make a run at rights that have been held by Wilson for decades.