The Wells Report Absolves Pats Management But Tags Brady and Equipment Staff
The “deflategate” report prepared by Ted Wells of the New York firm Paul Weiss for the NFL has largely absolved New England Patriots’ management but does implicate Tom Brady and two equipment staff members.
What Did The Report Find
The Wells Report found that:
All eleven of the Patriots game balls tested measured below the minimum pressure level of 12.5 pounds per square inch (psi) allowed . . . .on both of two air pressure gauges used to test the balls. (Although there were no pre-game test measurements to compare with.)
- It is more probable than not that Jim McNally (the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots) and John Jastremski (an equipment assistant for the Patriots) participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee.
- Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls
- We do not believe that the evidence establishes that any other Patriots personnel participated in or had knowledge of the violation of the Playing Rules or the deliberate effort to circumvent the rules described in this Report. In particular, we do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots ownership, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick or any other Patriots coach in the matters investigated. We also do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots Head Equipment Manager Dave Schoenfeld.
Brady, McNally and Jastremski
The “more probably than not” analysis as to McNally and Jastremski is based on the fact that
- McNally’s removal of the game balls without authorization and taking them into the bathroom near the stadium tunnel for 1:40.
- Text messages between McNally and Jastremski regarding inflation messagesj.
As to Brady, the evidence consisted of the following:
- Text messages between McNally and Jastremski discusses Brady’s unhappiness with inflation levels;
- A material increase in the frequency of telephone and text communications between Brady and Jastremski shortly after suspicions of ball tampering became public on January 19. After not communicating by telephone or text message for more than six months (based on data retrieved from Jastremski‟s cell phone), Brady and Jastremski spoke by telephone at least twice on January 19 (calls lasting a total of 25 minutes and 2 seconds), twice on January 20 (calls lasting a total of 9 minutes and 55 seconds) and twice on January 21 (calls lasting a total of 20 minutes and 52 seconds) before Jastremski surrendered his cell phone to the Patriots later that day for forensic imaging. These calls included conversations relatively early during the mornings of January 19 (7:26 a.m. for 13 minutes and 4 seconds), January 20 (8:22 a.m. for 6 minutes and 21 seconds) and January 21 (7:38 a.m. for 13 minutes and 47 seconds).
- Brady also took the unprecedented step of inviting Jastremski to the QB room (essentially Brady‟s office) in Gillette Stadium on January 19 for the first and only time that Jastremski can recall during his twenty-year career with the Patriots, and Brady sent Jastremski text messages seemingly designed to calm Jastremski (“You good Jonny boy?”; “You doing good?”). For his part, Jastremski sent Brady text messages confirming that he was okay (“Still nervous; so far so good though”) and cautioning Brady about questioning 19 (“FYI…Dave will be picking your brain later about it. He‟s not accusing me, or anyone…trying to get to bottom of it. He knows it‟s unrealistic you did it yourself…”).
- In addition, we believe it is unlikely that an equipment assistant and a locker room attendant would deflate game balls without Brady‟s knowledge and approval. Based on our interviews and assessment of McNally and Jastremski, we also do not believe that they would personally and unilaterally engage in such conduct in the absence of Brady‟s awareness and consent.
The starting point is that the report absolves the Patriot ownership, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick and anyone other than Brady, McNally and Jastremski. Punishment should be of the wrong doers only, although the NFL suspended Saints Coach Sean Payton for an entire season for Bountygate, without any evidence of his involvement with Commissioner Goodell stating “ignorance is not an excuse.”
Brady should be suspended and fined. But there is little to draw from for an a similar suspension. It it worth noting that suspensions of over two games have only been given for actual or alleged violations of the law, substance abuse, gambling and excessive violence. A Boston Globe analysis of suspensions for tampering with equipment in the NFL and other leagues supports a modest suspension of 1-2 games. Here, however, the Wells Report concludes that Brady has lied to investigators and the public, which could merit adding additional time.
The Patriots open the season against the Pittsburgh Steelers and its star Quaterback Ben Roethlisberger who was suspended only four games for allegedly exposing himself and raping a woman in a bar bathroom.