The New England Patriots dropped a fire storm on the DeflateGate conversation, with a website that addresses the line-by-line claims in the Wells Report.
There's going to be a lot of noise and displeasure about the explanation for the nickname "deflator." Just know that the storyline will blow over in the next 48 hours and people will continue to digest the Patriots rebuttal and the tide will continue to turn. There's a ton of quality information in this report, even if you don't particularly buy the concept that "deflator" is relating to weight loss. The Patriots have zero reason to lie, especially they're planning on taking this to court.
With that in mind, here are ten facts from today's information drop that changes the landscape of DeflateGate
1. Tom Brady Didn't Know "Burt"
Mr. Brady said that until stories broke after the AFC Championship Game, he did not know Mr. McNally was responsible for taking footballs to (or from) the Officials’ Locker Room — and, in fact, did not know whether game or League officials carried the footballs to the field. When asked about Mr. McNally’s nickname, Mr. Brady insisted that it was "Burt" not "Bird" — that was how little he knew about him even by the time of his interview.
Tedy Bruschi said it best when he said that players don't know McNally by his name- if they know him, they know his nickname of "Bird." Brady didn't even know that much.
The Wells Report notes that Brady signs autographs for McNally, to which the Patriots respond, he signs them for everyone. If everyone with a Brady autograph was suspicious, the entire New England region wishes it was banned from footbal- wait!
2. Colts Cheated
8. During the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game, a ball thrown by Tom Brady was intercepted by a player for the Colts and the ball was taken to the Colts sideline. On the sideline, Colts equipment personnel used a pressure gauge to measure the inflation level of the ball, determined that it was below the minimum 12.5 psi level and informed a game official and other NFL personnel.
Once the game starts, neither team is allowed to gauge the footballs, pump them, or the like. That is solely the province of the referee, who is to be the "sole judge" of whether footballs comply. The Colts, with advance concerns about psi, did not take the issue to the referee. They took the matter into their own hands and had an intern gauge the football. (pg. 63) This conduct was in violation of Rule 2. Nowhere does the Report identify this conduct as a violation of the Rule.
Formatted text is the Patriots response. Yes, it turns out that the Indianapolis Colts, by testing the intercepted football on the sideline, was in violation of the same exact rule that the Patriots are being crucified for. Sure, the circumstances were different- the ball wasn't going back in play- but isn't this about integrity?
3. Text Context
This is a long section that tries to provide context to Jim McNally's text calling himself the deflator and that he was going to go to ESPN. Essentially, John Jastremski might have been taking shoes from the Patriots equipment room and giving them to McNally. These guys were probably stealing official gear from the team. They were not talking about rewards from deflating footballs- they were trying to take official Patriots gear. This explains all the talk about shoes.
As for the "deflator" moniker, former Patriots player Matt Chatham explained that "there's a long standing tradition of offseason weight-loss competitions between Patriots staff and coaches." The nickname is ridiculous. So is the McNally calling Jastremski "Dorito Dink." It's all ridiculous.
4. Interviews without Representation
Patriots management had not yet been advised that an investigation had started, but Mr. McNally, having nothing to hide, talked freely to the League personnel without even asking if someone from the team should be there with him. The second and third interviews happened within the next several days. Again, Mr. McNally gave these interviews without any Patriots representative with him.
His phone was offered to League personnel for imaging, but they advised that they did not need his phone. (His phone data was later provided to the Wells investigators upon their request and prior to their interview with him.) At his third interview with League Security personnel, he was subjected to very aggressive questioning and demeaning assertions that he was lying when he denied any knowledge of improper football deflation.
McNally spoke with the NFL investigators three times without anyone from the Patriots with him. This is completely absurd, especially for a part time employee. If the league became hostile in their third meeting, then of course he wouldn't want to meet with them any more than he had to.
The icing on the cake, is that Wells and company had all of these texts prior to their meeting with McNally. Wells' team stated, "The interviews will be arranged so that, barring unanticipated circumstances, there will not be future multiple interviews of the same person." The Patriots did not deem Wells not reading his own information carefully enough as reason worthy of a second meeting, but were willing to relay individual questions if they wanted clarification.
Essentially, the Patriots were docked a 1st and 4th round pick, as well as $1 million because Wells wasn't a thorough reader.
5. NFL refused to correct false info leaks and lied to the Patriots...
"In fact, one of the game balls was inflated to 10.1 PSI, far below the requirement of 12.5 to 13.5 PSI" - NFL Senior Vice President of Football Operations David Gardi
The above is what the league initially reported to the Patriots. This is what was leaked out to the world. This is 100% incorrect information.
6. ...and kept correct info away from the Patriots for two months.
Patriots’ counsel also requested from the outset that he be provided with the actual halftime psi measurements. That information was not provided until March 23, over two months into the investigation. It was provided then only on the condition that it not be disclosed and, particularly, that it not be disclosed to the media until the final report was issued. This condition was imposed in the face of the extensively reported misinformation about halftime football psi that the League had refused to correct. One can only speculate why it was so important for the League that the accurate halftime information be withheld from the public until it was ultimately part of a report that downplayed the science and instead relied on selective texts.
And even when the league knew the corrected information, they didn't bother telling the Patriots or correcting the rumors on the streets. NFL Network's Ian Rapoport announced that the information was false on February 1st, which was well before the league notified the Patriots. That's completely unacceptable. And the league let the media run with the incorrect narrative while leaving one of their franchises hanging out to dry.
Furthermore, the league clearly withheld the correct information from the Patriots, letting New England think of the 10.1 PSI level, throughout all of the interviews. It is more probable than not that this was a purposeful decision to use the wrong information to try and obtain an admission of guilt.
7. Wells didn't investigate the league's leaks: the NFL investigated internally
We learned last night from Ted that the issue of how League personnel handled the pursuit of the low psi issues, including whether there were inappropriate prejudgments and unfounded presumptions of wrongdoing, selective leaks of information and misinformation, failure to correct obviously misreported information, and the like, are not part of what the Paul Weiss firm has been asked to investigate. I understand that the League has opted to investigate those matters internally. - email between Patriots counsel and NFL's VP Jeff Pash
"Hey, Rog, can you handle this internal investigation?"
"Sure...Hey everyone, did you leak info?"
"Sounds good to me!"
This is probably one of the more appalling facts. There was no attempt fair attempt to try and find out who was behind the leaks that harmed the Patriots, just like how Wells never interviewed Roger Goodell throughout the investigation.
8. The security tapes show that the officials watched and allowed McNally to take balls out of the locker room and to the field
Mr. McNally, a physically big man, hoisted two large bags of footballs and lumbered past all these League officials and out the door of the Officials’ Locker Room. As is clear from the report, no one objected; no one told him to stop; no one requested that he wait to be accompanied by a League official; no one told him that a League official had to carry the footballs to the field.
After he walked past all of these League officials and out the door of the Officials’ Locker Room to the hallway, he then walked past James Daniel, an NFL official and one of the people who had been alerted to the Colts psi concerns pre-game (pg. 45). Mr. Daniel, as seen on the security video, looked at Mr. McNally carrying the bags of footballs toward the field unaccompanied by any League or game official, and made no objection to Mr. McNally continuing unaccompanied to the field.
In short, if officials lost track of the location of game footballs, it was not because Mr. McNally stealthily removed them. (Omitted from the investigation were interviews with all those League officials whom Mr. McNally walked past with the bags of footballs on his shoulders.)
Even after halftime, when obvious attention was being paid to game footballs and psi issues by League and game officials, who took control of the footballs at halftime, the security video shows Mr. McNally, with no objection, taking the footballs from the Officials’ Locker Room back to the field totally unaccompanied by any League or Game official.
That's a lot of text. Long story short, McNally had the footballs (with official Walt Anderson's permission), walked towards the field, was spotted and not stopped by a person who was aware of the Colts request for focus on the footballs, and then he did it again after the measurements at halftime.
No one cared. At all.
9. League selectively listened to officials
Once the footballs are taken to the field they are to be taken to the area adjacent to the replay booth. The outdoor security camera shows that is exactly what Mr. McNally did. Anyone actually concerned about the location of the game footballs could simply have checked that location. The security video shows Mr. Anderson coming out to the field and going there.
Not surprisingly, he found Mr. McNally was there with the bags of footballs. No one then reprimanded Mr. McNally for having taken the footballs without permission or accompaniment, although the report would have one now believe that officials thought Mr. McNally had done something wrong by taking the footballs himself. No official chastised him; no one re-checked football psi; no official suggested using the back-up footballs.
The Wells Report listened to the refs when they wanted to use context to show the Patriots broke protocol, or that they were acting in an unseemly matter. The refs absolutely knew the starting PSI of the footballs, and they definitely knew that McNally taking the footballs was something Anderson hadn't seen in his 19 years as a ref, and of course they knew that Anderson had a tremendous memory.
But they ignored the security tapes that shows McNally operating in the open without question. They ignored the security tapes that They ignored that Anderson forgot to approve a football, or which gauge was used before the game, or giving the Patriots 13 instead of 12 footballs.
The Wells Report gives so much more credence to the testimonials of the officials, that they ignore the video and science right in front of them.
10. This is all about less than half a PSI
And the science. This scandal isn't over multiple footballs 2+ PSI below the limit. We know that the Ideal Gas Law is responsible for the majority of the recorded "under"inflation. We know what the Patriots footballs were recorded at halftime and we know that the officials didn't use any real care in the pregame football preparation.
So we know that if the Patriots footballs were inflated to 12.5 PSI, we know that their pressure should have measured roughly 11.3-11.5. The Patriots footballs fit this measurement with one gauge. It was roughly 0.4 PSI below the limit with the other. (Editor's note: reader Joe Little notes that the Patriots were only 0.2 PSI below the Ideal Gas Law range with the other gauge. So it's not 0.4 PSI. It's only 0.2 PSI.)
0.4 PSI is absolutely nothing. This is what this scandal is about. This is the outcome. This is what the outrage is for.
NFL, I hope you're happy.