Patriots employees exchanged texts about Tom Brady and the air pressure in game balls
Report says it's "probable" that Patriots staffers released air from footballs during AFC title game
Patriots owner slams report as based on circumstantial evidence; Brady denies knowledge of any tampering
The evidence listed in Wednesday’s “Deflategate” report is eye-catching:
– Text messages between a part-time New England Patriots employee and an equipment assistant with talk of cash, free shoes and autographs.
– The part-time employee – a locker room attendant responsible for 12 footballs before the AFC title game – spending 100 seconds in a bathroom after game officials had approved the balls for play.
– Measurements taken at halftime after a team that is losing tips off the league about footballs that appear to be too soft.
– The Patriots’ star quarterback and the equipment assistant suddenly exchanging phone calls in the days just after news of underinflated footballs blew up.
Those are the key points in the 139-page NFL-commissioned report given to the league’s brass.
The Patriots beat the Colts 45-7 in the January 18 AFC title game and went on to win the Super Bowl. Controversy swirled after the Colts raised concerns that the footballs used solely by the Patriots’ offense in the first half were underinflated.
Report points finger at QB Tom Brady
The report, prepared by attorney Ted Wells, found that “it is more probable than not” that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was “at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities” of locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski, who has been with the team since 2001.
The report also found that “it is more probable than not” that McNally and Jastremski “participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee” in violation of NFL rules in the AFC Championship.
“Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady … was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities … involving the release of air from Patriots game balls,” Wells wrote.
The repeated use of the phrase “more probable than not” sparked immediate social media sarcasm, with one NFL fan writing on Twitter: “I have concluded that it is more probable than not that I will continue to not give a crap about Deflategate.”
It also prompted a radio sports host in Boston to tweet, “It is more probable than not that the Wells Investigation was a complete waste of time.”
The report said there was no evidence that any other Patriots player or staffer was involved, adding specifically that investigators do not believe coach Bill Belichick, any other coach or the team’s ownership took part in or knew of any wrongdoing.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, will decide on possible penalties and if the game-day process for delivering footballs to the field needs to be changed.
The evidence against Brady, a future Hall of Famer and a marquee player in the NFL, is largely circumstantial. He told investigators that he had no involvement and no knowledge of a plan to deflate footballs that would be used by the Patriots before the AFC title game.
But the report said his claims were not plausible and contradicted by other evidence. He also refused to turn over his cell phone.
The evidence linking Brady to the controversy includes texts where