It sounds unlikely the American Enterprise Institute will be involved in Tom Brady’s suspension appeal next week.
AEI hasn’t been contacted by the NFL, the NFL Players Association or the New England Patriots about its report, which discredits the science in the Wells Report, co-author Stan Veuger told NESN.com on Thursday morning. AEI helped vacate suspensions in the New Orleans Saints’ Bountygate scandal after its report was presented at an NFL hearing in 2012.
Perhaps the union will present AEI’s case if Brady’s suspension appeal goes to court.
“Part of it might just be the timeline,” Veuger told NESN.com. “We didn’t plan it this way, but in a publicity sense, it worked out well. There just isn’t that much time between when our report came out and the hearing. In the Bountygate case, there were months in between the time we brought out the results and the hearings. I think that could explain the difference.”
AEI found the Wells Report largely ignored that the Indianapolis Colts’ footballs were able to warm up at halftime before they were tested, which makes it appears the Patriots’ footballs deflated at a higher rate. Veuger tried to explain why Wells might have ignored that important detail.
“It’s harder to square with the conclusions they present that way,” Veuger said. “Because if you allow for the Colts balls to warm up, then suddenly the statistically significant difference they find disappears. I think they believed in the story they were telling, and you deemphasize things that don’t fit into that story if you want to present a coherent narrative.”
Washington Post columnist Sally Jenkins recently ripped the Wells Report and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in her summary of AEI’s findings. Veuger didn’t agree with everything Jenkins wrote, but he does believe the Wells Report was flawed.
“I wouldn’t have chosen the same tone (as Jenkins),” Veuger said. “It was very aggressive, and I don’t know what people’s motivations are, per se, in this case.
“I do agree with her point that this is terribly executed and it’ll be tough for the NFL commissioner to — as she was saying, all of the options he’s facing are bad options. I don’t think he can sustain the punishment for Brady that he put in place in the first place because that punishment was based, at least in part, on a report that has been at least, in part, discredited, so you would expect the punishment to come down. At the same time, of course, he put a lot of faith in this report. He paid a lot of money for it. Walking away from the report is tough, too, plus it opens him up to all sorts of new complaints from the Patriots camp.”
In full disclosure, Veuger said Kevin Hassett, one of the AEI analysis’ three co-authors, grew up in Massachusetts, and “if he had to pick an NFL team, he probably would pick the Patriots,” though his fandom is “nothing super passionate.” AEI isn’t funded by the NFL or the Patriots.
AEI didn’t dive into the circumstantial evidence in the Wells Report, including text messages exchanged between staffers John Jastresmski and Jim McNally.
“If there’s no deflation to begin with, then none of the circumstantial evidence matters, in the way if there’s no dead body, there’s no need for murder investigations,” Veuger said.
Thumbnail photo via Andrew Weber/USA TODAY Sports Images
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