Roger Goodell Denies NFL Stained Patriots’ Reputation Over DeflateGate

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Ted Wells is taking his time investigating DeflateGate.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held a news conference Wednesday at the NFL Annual Meeting in Phoenix and was asked two questions about Wells’ investigation into allegations that the New England Patriots deflated footballs before their AFC Championship Game win over the Indianapolis Colts. Goodell says he doesn’t know when the report will be released.

What’s the status of Ted Wells’ investigation into the deflated football matter, and does it have to be completed by the draft?
“We have not put a timeframe on Ted Wells. We’ve asked him to be thorough, complete, and when he is finished with that, he’ll give that to us and to the public in general.”

Do you feel the league office handled everything appropriately and correctly? Or do you have any regrets over the way that the incident cast a pall over the two weeks (before the Super Bowl) and dominated the conversation and may have prematurely stained the reputations of the Patriots, Tom Brady and Bill Belihcick?

“We think we made it very clear at the Super Bowl, we were not making any judgments, that we were obligated as part of our role to make sure we understand the facts. Whenever there is a charge potentially of a violation of our rules, we take it very seriously, and that’s our obligation. That’s our obligation to the other 31 clubs. Ted Wells will be going through the report. If there was anything that we as a league did incorrectly, we’ll know in that report.”

Several leaks came out in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl, but many of which conflicted with earlier reports. The first leak suggested that 11 of the Patriots’ 12 footballs were two PSI under the minimum required inflation. The latest report indicated that only one football was two PSI under the limit, and the rest were just a “tick” under.

The NFL took a week to admit that league officials did not record the footballs’ PSI before the game. NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said before the Super Bowl that DeflateGate was not a “sting” operation, though statements by Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson at the NFL Scouting Combine suggest otherwise.

If initial reports turn out to be false, then the NFL did very little to deny them. DeflateGate, not Super Bowl XLIX, dominated headlines leading up the Patriots’ matchup with the Seattle Seahawks. The NFL seemed to have no plan for which reports they chose to confirm, deny or deflect citing an ongoing investigation.

Goodell said he made it clear at the Super Bowl that no judgment had been passed on the Patriots, but that was a week after the story initially broke, when it already was losing steam.

Regardless of what Wells finds in his investigation, casual fans’ minds are unlikely to change because of the way the scandal was handled by the NFL in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports

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