clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NFL Changed "More Probable Than Not" Requirement Because of the Patriots

The laughable line is only a ruling because of the Patriots.

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

The language used in the Wells Report is an obvious source of frustration and humor for Patriots fans. "More probable than not" is the least accusational of phrases that seems to allow for a backdoor if the league wants to drop the case against Tom Brady and the Patriots.

Of course, this is legal jargon that's required by the league to issue discipline, as reader nbradley07 so eloquently discussed the other day. "More probable than not," also known as a "preponderance of the evidence," is used in civil cases, versus "beyond a reasonable doubt" in criminal cases. The league actually operated under the concept of "beyond a reasonable doubt" before Roger Goodell changed the requirements "to preserve the competitive integrity of the league" and "maintain public confidence [in the sport]."

Goodell changed the level of proof required to issue a ruling because of the New England Patriots, but it wasn't for DeflateGate.

The rule change happened back in 2008 as a direct response to SpyGate. Goodell came under fire for how he handled the investigation and resolution process and he was resolved to not have such a circus happen again on his watch.

"Too often, competitive violations have gone unpunished because conclusive proof of the violation was lacking," Goodell wrote in his 2008 memo to the league. "I believe we should reconsider the standard of proof to be applied in such cases, and make it easier for a competitive violation to be established."

And so Patriots fans shouldn't hold out too much hope that Tom Brady will get away free, even if the evidence is obviously laced with the confirmation bias necessary to match the media and public outrage. Goodell doesn't care about the truth- he only cares about maintaining the public confidence. The public has spoken, and the rule created because of the Patriots will therefore be applied.