On Wednesday, May 6, independent investigator Ted Wells released the findings of his investigation into the “Deflate-gate” scandal, reporting that “it is more probable than not” that Patriots personnel intentionally violated the rules.
During the AFC title game, 11 of the 12 footballs supplied and used by the New England Patriots were tested and found to be under-inflated beyond the league required 12 .5 psi. When this information was released to the public the following day, accusations and conspiracy theories began to fly. Many of them were directed at Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady. He and coach Bill Belichick have denied any knowledge as to the intentional deflation of the footballs from day one. The NFL launched an investigation headed by Ted Wells.
The 243-page Wells report on Deflate gate indicates that it is “more probable than not” that Patriots personnel participated in intentional violations. Also, the report indicates that it is probable that Tom Brady “was at least generally aware of . . . the release of air from Patriots game balls.” Though not providing direct evidence of the alleged misconduct, the report contains fairly significant circumstantial evidence that could lead one to infer these violations were known and intentional.
The report implicates officials’ locker room attendant Jim McNally, equipment assistant John Jastremski, and quarterback Tom Brady. Though Tom Brady refused to turn over requested text messages, a number of Jastremski’s text messages suggest some impropriety due to an exchange of signed memorabilia including a particularly valuable game ball. Texts between Jastremski and McNally further allude to improper deflating of game balls throughout the season.
The most implicating evidence is McNally’s mysterious bathroom stop before the AFC Championship Game. McNally, contrary to typical procedure, took two bags of footballs out of the officials’ locker room (which has its own bathroom) and brought them into a separate bathroom prior to bringing them out on to the field. McNally testified that he went in the bathroom to use the urinal, and was then notified that bathroom has no urinal.
Though the report doesn’t explicitly state with certainty that any of the Patriots members definitely knew and intended the violations, the NFL could likely sanction the team. The NFL Game Operations Manual states that such violations trigger a $25,000 fine. The NFL could also increase that amount and take away future draft picks as they have done in the past for the Patriots’ 2007 spying scandal.