DeflateGate Fact Or Fiction: Wells Report Findings Expose Media Leaks

The Wells Report went into exhaustive detail in its 243 pages, but it didn’t cover the various media leaks after the AFC Championship Game.

Many of those reports about DeflateGate were false and painted the New England Patriots guilty by the court of public opinion. The story dominated the two weeks leading up to Super Bowl XLIX, so let’s see which reports stand up after the Wells Report findings were released Wednesday:

Reports: D’Qwell Jackson’s Interception Sparked Deflated Ball Controversy
Tom Brady threw an interception in the first half of the AFC Championship Game and either linebacker D’Qwell Jackson or a member of the Colts’ equipment staff thought the ball seemed under-inflated.

PART FACT, PART FICTION: According to the Wells Report, the Colts actually notified the league to watch out for under-inflated footballs before the game. After Jackson intercepted Brady’s pass, a member of the Colts’ equipment staff tested the ball with a gauge and determined it was under-inflated.

Report: NFL Found Patriots’ AFC Championship Game Balls Under-Inflated
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported 11 of the Patriots’ 12 footballs were under-inflated by two pounds per square inch.

FICTION: Eleven of the Patriots’ 12 footballs were tested at halftime using two gauges, so there were 22 total readings. Only one reading was recorded as two PSI under the required minimum. The other recordings varied from 1.8 PSI under to .2 PSI under.

Report: Patriots Used Ref-Approved Backup Balls In Second Half Vs. Colts
Officials swapped out the Patriots’ 12 footballs at halftime for backup footballs.

FICTION: The NFL re-filled the Patriots’ footballs with air at halftime.

Report: Ravens Tipped Off Colts About Patriots Deflating Footballs
The Baltimore Ravens tipped off the Colts to alert the NFL to check the Patriots’ footballs at halftime.

FICTION: There is no mention in the Wells Report that the Ravens tipped off the Colts.

Report: Patriots’ Footballs Might Have Been Under-Inflated By 1 PSI, Not 2
The football Jackson intercepted was two PSI under the minimum requirement, while the rest were closer to one PSI under.

FICTION: The football intercepted by Jackson was tested three times by the NFL after the Colts tested it on the sideline. The NFL recorded the pressure at 11.45, 11.35 and 11.75 PSI.

The footballs tested by the NFL varied from two PSI under the required minimum to .2 PSI under. One gauge used by the officials measures a much lower reading than the other, and they vary on average by .39 PSI. Using the gauge that measures higher, the Patriots’ footballs were on average 1.01 below the required minimum. Using the gauge that measures a lower amount, they were on average 1.4 below the required minimum.

Report: Patriots Locker Room Attendant ‘Strong Person Of Interest’ In DeflateGate
The NFL zeroed in on a Patriots locker room attendant who took the footballs from the officials’ locker room and brought them briefly to another area before the field.

FACT: This report describes Jim McNally, who took the footballs into a bathroom for 1 minute and 40 seconds, according to the Wells Report.

Report: DeflateGate Not A Sting Operation By NFL, As Some Speculated
Testing footballs at halftime was not arranged ahead of time. It was the result of a situation that was brought up during the game.

PART FACT, PART FICTION: Colts general manager Ryan Grigson sent an email to David Gardi and Mike Kensil, both members of the NFL football operations department, saying “As far as the gameballs are concerned it is well known around the league that after the Patriots gameballs are checked by the officials and brought out for game usage the ballboys for the patriots will let out some air with a ball needle because their quarterback likes a smaller football so he can grip it better, it would be great if someone would be able to check the air in the game balls as the game goes on so that they don’t get an illegal advantage.”

The email was forwarded to Dean Blandino, the NFL VP of officiating, who told referee Walt Anderson to “ensure that proper protocols concerning the footballs were followed.”

“Grigson’s email was not the focus of the conversation, and may not have been specifically referenced,” according to the Wells Report.

The email also was forwarded to Albert Riveron, the NFL’s senior director of officiating, who told Anderson the Colts had raised concerns about game balls.

The NFL wasn’t running a sting operation on the Patriots, but it knew ahead of time that the Colts were concerned about game balls. The NFL decided to test the Patriots’ footballs after the Colts raised concerns about the intercepted football.

The Wells Report specifically addressed the report of a sting operation in its footnotes:

“Because Sullivan’s email did not provide specific factual support for the Colts’ concerns, NFL officials determined that it was not necessary to ask the game officials preemptively to check the air pressure in the Patriots game balls during the game, as Sullivan had requested. They reported during interviews that, without additional specific information that might raise further concern, they believed that the referee’s standard pregame inspection of the game balls would be sufficient, and that a change in the standard inspection protocols was not necessary. In particular, prior to the game, there was no plan to check the air pressure of the balls at halftime or any other time during the game. There was no “sting” operation, no plan for a “sting” operation and no discussion of a “sting” operation.”

Report: Many Patriots DeflateGate Footballs Just ‘Few Ticks Under’ Level
NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reported many of the Patriots’ footballs were only one PSI or “just a few ticks” under the minimum requirement.

PART FACT, PART FICTION: This depends on which gauge is being referenced. The higher recording gauge measured five out of the 11 Patriots footballs at one PSI or lower than the minimum requirement. The lower recording gauge measured three out of the 11 Patriots footballs at one PSI or lower than the minimum requirement.

Report: Patriots Employee Took 24 Footballs Into Bathroom For 90 Seconds
A Patriots ball boy takes 12 Patriots footballs and 12 Colts footballs into a bathroom for 90 seconds.

FACT: McNally took the Patriots and Colts footballs into a bathroom for 1 minute and 40 seconds. The Patriots actually might have provided 13 footballs, not 12.

Adam Schefter: ‘There Are People Who Believe’ Colts Deflated Patriots’ Football
ESPN’s Schefter said “people around the NFL” believe the Colts deflated the intercepted football on the sideline before giving it to the NFL.

FICTION: The Colts tested the football on the sideline, which sent the NFL testing footballs at halftime into motion. The Wells Report made no mention that the Colts deflated the football before sending it to the NFL. The football intercepted by the Colts did not have a lowest PSI among the 12 Patriots balls tested.

Click to read the entire Wells Report on DeflateGate >>

Thumbnail photo via John David Mercer/USA TODAY Sports Images

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