Wells Report Released: Pats Employees Likely Deflated Balls
Remember DeflateGate? You probably forgot about the accusations levied against the New England Patriots for delfating footballs during their AFC Championship Game around a week or two after they won the Super Bowl in early February. But President Obama was kind enough to remind us all about it during the Pats’ visit to the White House last week, and it’s about to reemerge as a hot topic in sports once again after the Wells Report was released earlier today claiming the Patriots’ employees were responsible for deflating footballs and quarterback Tom Brady likely knew about it.
During his investigation into DeflateGate, Ted Wells uncovered several pieces of evidence, including video footage inside Gillette Stadium, as well as phone and text records from the phones of the Patriots’ Officials Locker Room attendant Jim McNally and their equipment assistant John Jastremski. After sorting through those and other findings, Wells found that 11 of the 12 balls being used by the Patriots’ offense during their AFC Championship victory over the Indianapolis Colts were likely tampered with by McNally when he took them into a bathroom down by the field for approximately 100 seconds.
As per the report:
“For the reasons described in this Report, and after a comprehensive investigation, we have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship Game, it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules. In particular, we have concluded that 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.”
The report also states that they found no evidence suggesting Patriots head coach Bill Belichick or team management were aware of the fact that any of this was going on. As for Brady, Wells claims the investigation was hindered by his refusal to provide emails, texts, and phone records, but when looking at Jastremski’s phone records, he did notice a dramatic increase in the number of interactions between Brady and the team’s equipment assistant after DeflateGate went public.
When asked about his thoughts regarding the results of the investigation, Patriots owner Robert Kraft had the following to say in a statement released to the media:
“To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship Game, would be a gross understatement.
“While I respect the independent process of the investigation, the time, effort and resources expended to reach this conclusion are incomprehensible to me. Knowing that there is no real recourse available, fighting the league and extending this debate would prove to be futile. We understand and greatly respect the responsibility of being one of 32 in this league and, on that basis, we will accept the findings of the report and take the appropriate actions based on those findings as well as any discipline levied by the league.”
As for Brady’s father, Tom Sr., he was quick to defend his son, referring to DeflateGate as “FrameGate” while speaking with USA Today. “The league had to cover themselves,” he added. “The reality is they had no conclusive evidence.”
If you’d like to check out the Wells Report in its entirety, you can do so here.
So what does this all mean for Tom Brady and the Patriots? As of right now, no one knows for sure, but we could find out soon—a source close to the situation told ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter that discipline is “days” away.
Hat Tip – [ESPN]