According to the Deflategate report released Wednesday, it was “more probable than not” that New Orleans Patriots deflate footballs before the game against Indianapolis five months ago. The 243-page report revealed that, although the club’s general manager and coach Bill Belichick had no idea what was going on, Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady was “at least generally aware” of the practice.
Main investigator Ted Wells wrote in the report that two of the team’s employees may have doctored the balls below NFL’s standard of at least 12.5 pounds per square inch. Wells pointed the finger at Jim McNally, Pats’ locker room attendant, and equipment asst John Jastremski.
According to the report, McNally, who signed his text messages as “the Deflator” was awarded money, signed footballs and expensive Patriots-branded shoes in return. Before the most important home game of the season, he took 13 footballs into a bathroom where he deflated them with a needle. Shortly after, he delivered them to the field.
Yet the text message exchange between the two employees circumstantially involves Tom Brady. Although, Brady declined any involvement, Wells reported that his claims lack any basis and were at odds with “other evidence.”
And that “other evidence” may refer to six phone calls between Brady and Jastremski over the course of three days before their home game against Indianapolis. The two hadn’t had a phone conversation in more than 6 months before that time.
But Wells’ investigation was severely hindered by Brady’s refusal to disclose any of his private e-mails, text messages or phone records from that period. Nevertheless, Wells does not call him a cheater in the report. And evidence against him is mainly circumstantial.
About nine years ago, Patriots’ star quarterback was involved in the rewriting of the NFL rules that allowed visiting teams to bring their own footballs, which would be later used for offense-related purposes.
Yet, Wells also said that he believed that the two employees couldn’t have issued the plan and enforce it without Brady’s approval or at least him being aware.
The league is now deliberating on the most suitable penalties. However, there are a lot of people that think the Deflategate report is flawed. Bill Polian harshly criticized Wells’ conclusions and the willingness of the league to penalize a team that was “more probable than not” involved in the violation.
But just about everyone eyes are on Brady, who is either seen as the team’s scapegoat or a cheater. While some advocate for his suspension or try to defend him, others just froze their bets on the Patriots until the problem gets solved.
Although couch Belichick was caught and penalized for cheating eight years ago, the league found him clean this time. While Robert Kraft found the Deflategate report’s conclusions “incomprehensible,” he said that the team would accept any discipline.
The report found that McNally spent nearly “100 seconds” in a bathroom where he probably used a needle to lower pressure in the 13 balls.
Wells also questioned Walt Anderson’s integrity as he failed to spot the difference at the beginning of the game, which has never happened to him over his 20-year career.
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