clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

DeflateGate: Faulty Science, Reason, Work in the Wells Report

The NFL laid out a hit piece on the Patriots. This can't stand.

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Ted Wells hired a consulting group that used to be called The Failure Group, Inc.

That isn't a joke. That's pretty much all you need to know.

The investigation, the findings, and the official conclusion completes a 100-day process of absolutely nothing. It's a circus, a charade, and a performance to placate the masses because if the league is going to draw blood, it might as well come from the current kings.

There are numerous shortcomings with the research done by Ted Wells and his team, or at least they're presented in a way that's disingenuous and blatantly slanted towards a foregone conclusion.

If you haven't read it yet, here's the official release of the Wells Report. We're going to lay out reasons why their conclusions are hogwash based upon the evidence provided.

And to start, there's definite concerns with regards to the communication between locker attendant Jim McNally and equipment manager John Jastremski. Anyone who calls themselves The Deflator (on May 9th, 2014) in this situation is going to be a clear and obvious target.

So let's review the communication between McNally and Jastremski via text, with the context that it's October and the Patriots had just faced the Jets. Tom Brady was furious and cussed out McNally, to Jastremski, on the sideline because the referees inflated the footballs that had been provided. McNally, upon finding out Brady was upside, stated, "F-- Tom." All texts are as provided, spelling and grammar errors as they're presented.

Halftime of the Jets Game, October 16th

JJ: Tom is acting crazy about the balls. Ready to vomit

??: K. He saying there not good enough??

JJ: Tell later

October 17th

JJ (to his fiancee): Ugh...Tom was right. I just measured some of the balls. They were supposed to be 13 lbs... They were like 16. Felt like bricks.

JM: Tom going to make that next ball a fuckin balloon

JJ: Talked to him last night. He actually brought you up and said you must have a lot of stress trying to get them done... I told him it was. He was right though... I checked some of the balls this morn... The refs fucked us...a few of then were at almost 16. They didn't recheck then after they put air in them

JM: Fuck tom...16 is nothing...wait till next sunday

JJ: Omg! Spaz

October 22nd

JM: Make sure you blow up the ball to look like a rugby ball so tom can get used to it before sunday

JJ: Omg

October 23rd

JJ: Can't wait to give you your needle this week :)

JM: Fuck tom...make sure the pump is attached to the needle.....fuckin watermelons coming

JJ: So angry

JM: The only thing deflating his passing rating

October 24th

JJ: I have a big needle for u this week

JM: Better be surrounded by cash and newkicks....or its a rugby sunday. Fuck tom

JJ: Maybe u will have some nice size 11s in ur locker

JM: Tom must really be working your balls hard this week

October 25th

JJ: Size 11? 2 or 3X?

JM: Tom must really be on you. 11 0r 11half......2x unless its tight fitting

JJ: Nah. Hasn't even mentioned it, figured u should get something since he gives u nothing. Granted I already left stadium so unless Dave leaves room tomorrow then it'll wait till next week.

JM: No prob

This was the week following that Jets game. To reset the scenario, the footballs were inflated to 16 PSI (the upper limit should be 13.5 PSI) by the refs. Brady is mad at McNally for letting the refs inflate the footballs until they felt like "bricks".

The report notes, on page 40, that after the Jets game is when Brady learned that the football had to be between 12.5 PSI and 13.5 PSI. So in between the Jets game and the next game, against the Bears, Brady made a target of 12.5 PSI from that point forward. Brady goes as far as suggesting that they provide the refs with a rule book (sound familiar, Baltimore?) so they understand not to over-inflate the football.

So it makes natural sense that the person in charge of preparing the football, Jastremski, would have this at the front of his mind, and this would be the prime time to joke about Brady's lofty demands with McNally, the person in charge of bringing the air pump and pressure gauge to the officials.

The week after Brady increases focus on football pressure because the football was overinflated, the equipment staff starts making jokes about offering Brady more overinflated footballs. Or, they should be interpreted as jokes, unless you're trying to paint a devious plot of deflation. Jastremski specifically says that Brady isn't involved in giving McNally the shoes. The two continue to make jokes about shoes throughout the report.

The needle in reference is with regards to the fact that Jastremski, who provides the air pump and pressure gauge to McNally for the officials, only gave McNally one needle for the two instruments. The big needle is in reference to the different needle sizes for said instruments and the fact that Jastremski gave him the wrong sized needle earlier in the season.

Fairly innocuous stuff. But Wells steamrolls over every and all explanation provided by Jastemski and McNally on the grounds that they have to be talking about deflating the footballs if they're talking about needles?!? Well, yes. The footballs were overinflated in the prior game, so of course they'll be talking about deflating the footballs to get them into the approved range.

And that is the root of the issue.

The report isn't about finding whether or not the Patriots did anything wrong, or if Tom Brady directed the equipment staff to do anything, or if Bill Belichick angled the stadium construction so the football on his sideline is slightly different than on the other side. It's about coming up with a narrative where it's "more probable than not" that the Patriots are in violation.

Discussion of deflating the football, albeit from an overinflated starting point, is enough of a launching point when you have your preconceived conviction at the front of your mind.

And it's why the report has overlooked numerous cases of shoddy math, recordings of evidence, and shadow organizations.

When the league measured the footballs at halftime, they discovered that the Patriots footballs were at a wider range than those in the Colts possession. Of course, they measured 11 of the Patriots footballs and only four from the Colts, which implies an incomplete attempt at performing their due diligence. It also doesn't help when they misrecord the PSI of one of those four Colts footballs.

And so part of the evidence submitted by the league has 25% in jeopardy from the onset. That's not inspiring in any fashion. Additionally, if the goal was for integrity, then why would they have put a Patriots football in play for the second half that was potentially above the allowed limit?

The Wells Report doesn't shy away from siding with the officials in the "he-said, she-said" aspect of this investigation. While statements by Jastremski and McNally are quickly discarded, Wells is readily accepting of referee Walt Anderson's claim that the officials inflated the Patriots footballs at the start of the game to the 12.5 PSI limit. This, of course, isn't recorded, even though Anderson was advised that the football preparation would be under greater scrutiny per the request of the Colts.

The same referee who can, with certainty, state that the Patriots footballs were definitely at 12.5 PSI, had a harder time recollecting the actual number of footballs New England had approved.

And so we're left comparing unrecorded pregame measurements against partially (and incorrectly) recorded halftime measurements, against incomplete post-game measurements.

Keep in mind that only four of the Colts footballs were measured at half time. A random selection of four Patriots and four Colts footballs were measured after the game. There's no direct connection showing how Football "A"s PSI was affected from a pre-, during-, and post-game stand point.

Yet the report feels comfortable stating that there is statistical significance in the change in pressure of the Patriots footballs versus those of the Colts. This is a bold claim, especially when they're double weighting each football.

In the referenced appendix, the 22 measurements for the Patriots is including the referee's reported, but not recorded, PSI. Jastremski noted that earlier in the season, in October, the referees inflated the footballs to 16 PSI. It seems extraordinarily questionable to assume that the Patriots footballs were at 12.5 PSI, if not dangerously willful.

And here's the main reason why you should absolutely disregard the findings in this report.

Ted Wells hired a consulting group that used to be called The Failure Group, Inc. They are now called Exponent. And they have a track record of harmful disregard of the truth in favor of pursuing the bottom line. They have claimed in the past that smoking doesn't cause cancer, that Chevron dumping oil waste didn't cause cancer (while the largest shareholder of Chevron was on Exponent's board), and that asbestos doesn't cause mesothelioma or cancer.

They are generally the first group called when a mega-entity is in need of a science experiment. Back in 2010, the L.A. Times published an article that stated, "Exponent's research has come under fire from critics, including engineers, attorneys and academics who say the company tends to deliver to clients the reports they need to mount a public defense."

So when Exponent produces a statistical study with a weak backing in statistics, it only weakens the claims made in the report. The findings are exactly what the NFL needed if they wanted to further bury the Patriots, even though other smarter entities have found that there is scientific backing in the pressure of New England's footballs.

The entire report drips with the desire to capture the Patriots in the middle of wrong-doing, even though there isn't an explicit example of Tom Brady being involved. All Wells had to do was prove that it was "more probable than not" that the Patriots were in violation- and when he gets to create his own evidence for submission, then that conclusion is all too easy to come by.