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- The NFL released the findings of the Ted Wells investigation on /4/6.
- The report says Tom Brady and two Patriots employees are involved.
At the conclusion of the Ted Wells investigation on the infamous “DeflateGate” scandal, New England Patriots employees were likely to have deflated the footballs during the 2014 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts with Tom Brady’s knowledge.
The “DeflateGate” investigation is complete, and the New England Patriots most likely did deflate footballs used in the 2014 AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.
This was the key finding of Ted Wells and his team when they released their report to the public on /4/6. In the report, which is 243 pages long, Wells and Co. conclude New England Patriots employees Jim McNally and John Jastremski took part “in a deliberate effort” to deflate footballs used for the AFC title game.
Not only that, Wells and his team say Patriots quarterback Tom Brady “was at least generally aware” of what McNally and Jastremski did, per the report.
NFL.com’s Gregg Rosenthal summarized some of the key findings from the Ted Wells investigation in his /4/6 update:
“We have concluded that it is more probable than not 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 viewe that it is more probable than not Tom Brady (the quarterback of the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.
“We do not believe that the evidence establishes that any other Patriots personnel participated in or had knowledge of the violation of the playing rules or the deliberate effort to circumvent the rules described in this report.
“In particular, we do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots ownership, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick or any other Patriots coach in the matters investigated.”
The report (via ESPN) says McNally brought the game balls into a bathroom adjacent to the Gillette Stadium Field and deflated around 13 footballs in 100 seconds using a needle.
In addition, the report also mentions referee Walt Anderson wasn’t able to find the previously-approved footballs prior to kickoff, something which hasn’t happened to him in 19 years on the job.
Ted Wells’ findings also include text messages between McNally and Jastremski implying Brady asking that the footballs be deflated below 12.5 pounds per square inch (psi). The Patriots quarterback had expressed disappointment with the quality of previously used game balls.
Moreover, McNally requested shoes and signed footballs from Brady in exchange for deflating the game balls in a series of text messages dated January 7, 2015. This allegedly occurred 11 days before the AFC title game between New England and Indianapolis, per the report (via ESPN).
Wells mentions he had some difficulty conducting the investigation because Brady did not provide him with email, texts or phone records. However, Wells concludes communication between Brady and McNally increased after the “DeflateGate” scandal shortly broke out, citing the latter’s phone records.
The ESPN update mentions Brady and McNally spoke six times on the phone during a three-day span after not communicating for six months.
Former NFL executive and current ESPN NFL analyst Bill Polian told ESPN Wells’ usage of the term “more often than not” in his report is the term the NFL has been using to refer to competitive violations in the past six years.
“In short, he (Wells) is finding there was a violation,” Polian told ESPN on Wednesday.
The league requires footballs to be inflated between 12.5 psi and 13.5 psi. Brady said he prefers footballs to be inflated to the former pressure level. The ESPN report says Brady has repeatedly stated he has never asked game balls be inflated outside the prescribed range by the NFL.
His father, Tom Brady, Sr., defended him in an interview with USA TODAY’s Jim Corbett on Wednesday:
“I don’t have any doubt about my son’s integrity — not one bit.
“In this country, you’re innocent until proven guilty. It just seems Tommy is now guilty until proven innocent.
“The league had to cover themselves. The reality is they had no conclusive evidence.
“This was Framegate right from the beginning.”
The report also clears the Patriots of introducing a non-approved kicking ball during the AFC title game, per ESPN.
For his part, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell issued his own statement on the Ted Wells report, per Rosenthal:
“I want to express my appreciation to Ted Wells and his colleagues for performing a thorough and independent investigation, the findings and conclusions of which are set forth in today’s comprehensive report.
“As with other recent matters involving violations of competitive rules, (NFL executive vice president of football operations) Troy Vincent and his team will consider what steps to take in light of the report, both with respect to possible disciplinary action and to any changes in protocols that are necessary to avoid future incidents of this type.
“At the same time, we will continue our efforts vigorously to protect the integrity of the game and promote fair play at all times.”
In a statement, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said his camp’s disappointment with the findings is “a gross understatement,” per NFL.com.
The Colts issued a statement saying they are aware of the findings but did not comment any further, per ESPN.
According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, the league is now considering discipline for Brady, McNally and Jastremski, which could be revealed in a few days’ time.
The Patriots beat the Colts, 52-7, in the AFC Championship Game on Jan. 18 to advance to Super Bowl XLIX against the Seattle Seahawks. New England beat Seattle, 28-24, to win its fourth Vincent Lombardi trophy on Feb. 2.
The Ted Wells report can be read in full here.
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