Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft come out looking squeaky clean in the Wells Report. Tom Brady and the NFL weren’t so lucky.
The New England Patriots quarterback’s reputation took a hit Wednesday when independent investigator Ted Wells released his findings in the DeflateGate case. Circumstantial evidence has been pinned on Brady, and even his most ardent supporters could have a hard time believing he’s completely innocent.
Then again, after a 103-day investigation, the Wells Report is a failure. There is no hard evidence — a “smoking gun,” as Kraft would say — the Patriots cheated, and the NFL failed to record the PSI of either team’s footballs before the AFC Championship Game, leaving enough doubt that New England fans forever will dismiss the investigation as anything more than a witch hunt. Phrases like “more probable than not” don’t help.
There is some very damning evidence against Brady, though. Text messages exchanged between Jim McNally, the officials locker room attendant for the Patriots, and John Jastremski, an equipment assistant for the Patriots, indicate Brady gave shoes, shirts and autographed items to McNally for having his footballs prepared a certain way. McNally took the AFC Championship Game footballs into a Gillette Stadium bathroom for 1 minute and 40 seconds. McNally also referred to himself as “the deflator” in a May 2014 text message.
The texts also indicate Brady previously had complained the Patriots’ footballs were overinflated in games. Jastremski texted McNally after the Patriots beat the New York Jets on Oct. 16: “The refs (expletive) us…a few of then were at almost 16.”
Jastremski texted McNally on Oct. 24, “I have a big needle for u this week,” to which McNally responded “Better be surrounded by cash and newkicks….or its a rugby sunday,” implying he was going to over-inflate the balls.
Brady and Jastremski spoke on the phone multiple times after an initial report that the Patriots were using under-inflated footballs, Wells found. Prior to the controversy, they hadn’t spoken on the phone or texted in six months. Brady also spoke to Jastremski in the Patriots’ quarterback room, according to the report. Jastremski said he had never met with Brady in the quarterback room in his 20 years with the Patriots.
The Wells Report also indicates Brady and the Patriots don’t have science on their side.
“According to our scientific consultants, however, the reduction in pressure of the Patriots game balls cannot be explained completely by basic scientific principles, such as the Ideal Gas Law, based on the circumstances and conditions likely to have been present on the day of the AFC Championship Game,” the report reads. “In addition, the average pressure drop of the Patriots game balls exceeded the average pressure drop of the Colts balls by 0.45 to 1.02 psi, depending on various possible assumptions regarding the gauges used, and assuming an initial pressure of 12.5 psi for the Patriots balls and 13.0 psi for the Colts balls.”
Referee Walt Anderson said he personally tested all of the Patriots and Colts footballs, and all but two of the Patriots’ balls measured within the 12.5 to 13.5 PSI requirement. The officials inflated two Patriots footballs that didn’t meet the requirements to 12.5, according to Wells, while all Colts footballs were within the required PSI inflation, though none of the PSI were recorded.
Brady still will be regarded as one of the greatest NFL quarterbacks of all time — if not the best — though circumstantial evidence suggests he was less than truthful in January, when he held a press conference denying any wrongdoing in the controversy.
This surely is a tough pill for Patriots fans to swallow, but because the NFL failed to find that “smoking gun,” they forever will point to phrases such as “more probable than not” and “assuming an initial pressure of 12.5 for the Patriots balls.”
Thumbnail photo via Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports Images
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