The NFL’s long-awaited report on Deflategate named Wednesday two Patriots team staffers as culpable in circumventing league rules on air pressure in game footballs in the AFC Championship, and said QB Tom Brady was probably was at least “generally aware” of it.
Pats owner Robert Kraft, who vehemently defended his club at the Super Bowl, followed up on the 241-page report by independent investigator Ted Wells by calling its conclusions “incomprehensible,” but said there is no appeal that is worth the trouble.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, a longtime personal friend of Kraft’s, has the report. The league’s disciplinary committee headed by Troy Vincent will decide on a punishment within “days,” according to ESPN.com.
A PDF of the entire report can be found here. The report’s principal conclusion:
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 (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 said neither coach Bill Belichick nor team management knew of the doctored footballs.
The report, via ESPN.com, quoted a text exchange beteween McNally and Jastremski from Oct. 14, 2014, after a Patriots-Jets game in which Brady was said to have complained angrily about the air pressure in the footballs. The evidence is stronger than most observers imagined:
McNally: Tom sucks…im going make that next ball a f—– balloon
Jastremski: Talked to him last night. He actually brought you up and said you must have a lot of stress trying to get them done
Jastremski: I told him it was. He was right though
Jastremski: I checked some of the balls this morn . . . The refs f—– us . . .a few of then were at almost 16
Jastremski: They didnt recheck then after they put air in them
McNally: F— tom …16 is nothing…wait till next sunday
Jastremski: Omg! Spaz
Texts from Jan. 7, 2015, 11 days before the AFC title game, described requests from McNally for shoes and signed footballs from Brady in exchange for deflating the balls.
McNally: Remember to put a couple sweet pig skins ready for tom to sign
Jastremski: U got it kid…big autograph day for you
McNally: Nice throw some kicks in and make it real special
Jastremski: It ur lucky. 11?
McNally: 11 or 11 and half kid
The Patriots beat Indianapolis 45-7 and then beat the Seahawks 28-24 in the Super Bowl, 28-24. Deflategate was an early week sideshow in Phoenix, with Kraft unexpectedly taking the podium at the team’s arrival press conference and denouncing the claims and the pending investigation.
If no evidence was found, Kraft said, “I would expect and hope the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular to Coach (Bill) Belichick and Tom Brady, for what they’ve had to endure this week.
“I’m disappointed in the way this entire matter has been handled and reported upon. We expect hard facts rather than circumstantial, leaked evidence to drive the conclusion of this investigation.”
Even though Kraft Wednesday castigated the investigation for its lack of hard evidence, the statements by those involved, including McNally, who called himself “the deflator,” strongly supports the notion that ball delflation was a standard part of the pre-game routine, deliberate and systematic, initiated by Brady and carried out by team employees.
Brady, one of the greatest QBs in NFL history with four Super Bowl wins, will have a hard time talking his way out of this. Even though the deflation story often has been mocked as a trifling episode that indeed had no influence in the game’s outcome, for Brady to even bother to seek such an edge calls into question his judgments, and reinforces the lingering franchise reputation as cheaters.
The 2007 “Spygate” episode, in which the NFL fined the Patriots and docked a draft choice for using a video camera to spy on the Jets, will again gain fresh profile as evidence that the Belichick regime will do anything to gain an edge, however small.
Cary Williams, then a Philadelphia Eagles cornerback and now a free-agent signee of the Seahawks, mentioined in August a popular sentiment around the NFL.
“One fact still remains: They haven’t won a Super Bowl since they got caught. They are cheaters,” Williams said. That lasted until February, when the Seahawks came up a yard short. But now, the Patriots’ legacy renews.
I’ve always wondered about that AFC Champ game. If the pats had been forced to play a FULL game instead of just half(i.e. their starters) how would they have fared against the hawks. The game was pretty much over early on. Remember, at that point in the year, sitting or resting your starters can be a huge advantage.
you should wonder some more because the game was not a halftime blowout in which the starters rested the 2nd half.
would you agree that the hawks had to play full tilt in their game until the very end, while the pats did not, thereby giving the pats some kind of advantage?
I wonder what the punishment will be, if any. Do you punish the organization for a pattern of cheating since it involved player and staff? Only Tom Brady who wanted deflated balls? Game suspension or fine?
sounds like ‘lack of institutional control’ to me. i say penalize them one yard, retroactive to Feb 1.
This incident was belittled and joked about quite a bit during super bowl week, and the Pats certainly stoked the media backlash to further this effect. Now i hope the sporting public takes it seriously. Kraft is an arrogant windbag and Brady is the next Pete Rose
Cheaters never prosper…unless you run a dumb play even when Mary is on your side.
Not only Brady and the two equipment guys need to suffer penalties. The Patriots obviously knew what was happening; their counsel blocked a followup interview with McNally, when the investigators were hot on the trail and knew what to ask, and McNally may have coughed up the truth. Also, Brady should have been requested by the Patriots to reveal text messages relating to this incident, which he refused to do, or be fired.
This violation of NFL rules has been going on for years, according to the investigation, and therefore 1) The Patriots should be completely banned from the NFL for at least a year; 2) Brady should be permanently banned from the NFL, and all his records removed; 3) The equipment guys should get a summons from a court which could determine the truth. As they were essentially “ordered” to deflate the balls by Brady, their penalties could be waived, in exchange for this truth. Brady’s actions not only violated NFL rules of fair play, but had a major effect on all his games.
Pete Rose was banned from baseball, even though there is no evidence that his betting on the games had any effect whatsoever. Some would say that an investigation in court is not necessary, but the NFL is a high, mega-billion dollar enterprise; to intentionally violate its rules has huge financial implications — on the scale of Enron.
You’re a bit severe, but I like it . . .
Sports law professor Michael McCann (who’s made the local radio rounds on the Sonics arena issue) has a good analysis of the issue, including what Wells could and couldn’t do legally, possible punishments, and what Brady’s options are: http://www.si.com/nfl/2015/05/06/nfl-deflategate-wells-report-legal-analysis
Classic example in the Patriot Org. of look the other way for those that aren’t implicated and for those who would benefit most?I am shocked Brady was right in there(sarcasm). We all knew this wasn’t a case of 1single person trying to keep a secret while cheating. Seattle had injuries and adversity that they needed to overcome to win SB49 and just fell a yard short but gave it their all without that cheating thing to answer to. The Hawks were the real winners.
Not quite ready to ask for a re-vote on who won.
I read one posters suggestion that they(Patriots )be penalized one yard in the last SB and award it(win) to Seattle. Now,that is some true dreaming. I hope Tom Brady has had that nightmare and he woke Gisele out of a dead sleep screaming.
The texts say it all, nowhere near as ambivalent as the “report.” As for Brady’s texts/phone calls, they could have had those and more if a suit were filed and subpoenas delivered. The report sounds like a soft peddle in advance of a penalty nowhere near what it should be. Beyond money, they should lose that big shiny trophy for the AFC Champ game. One thing we know for sure, some of the equipment guys really don’t care much for Tom . . .
Regarding a suit, who would file: the Colts? No, this is a violations of rules among partners in a trade association. The punishment has to be fairly stuff, or otherwise why have the rules? I’m guessing two games for Brady — reduced to one if the tells the truth — and a fine for the Pats.
Thanks for clarifying, Art. The penalty should be interesting . . .
The Pats have an interesting organizational structure. The ball boys sit at the top of the heap. Nobody tells them what to do. Nobody messes with them. Hey, if they feel like deflating a few balls before the game, they go ahead and do it. It’s not the concern of either Brady or Bellycheck; they know who’s really in charge and just mind their own business.
Nobody thought the”ball boys” (older adult men) would pursue an advantage so petty.
Nothing really surprising. Brady seems to be following Hilary Clinton’s lead claiming there’s a plot against him, much like how Hilary likes to bring up a GOP conspiracy every so often. The next time Brady shows up on Jim Rome’s show I bet Rome calls him Hilary the entire time.
I doubt Belichick didn’t know what was going on. He’s too much of a micro-manager. I do wonder how the NFL will monitor ball usage from now on though.
Lame post. Keep politics out.
You’re right. My bad. Humor that failed. Edited.
“Cheaters never win.” Was what I was told growing up. The only way to make this old quote true is to strip the Patriots of their Super Bowl victory. But, this is the NFL, and we know that’s not gonna happen. I wonder how many teams would cheat this year to win a Super Bowl knowing that if they got caught, they would still keep the Lombardi Trophy?
Art, it’s time for us to bring out our favorite Super Bowl serving dish. again… —- Jim Shellooe in Woodinville.