So, you think Tom Brady is guilty. You’ve read or skimmed the report. Perhaps you read articles pointing out the major highlights and skipped the report all together. You just wanted to know the juicy parts. The parts that proved it was more probable than not that Brady is a cheater. Some of you cheered. Some of you were angry. There were talks of year long suspensions. There were talks of boycotting Brady from any future Hall of Fame nomination. Finally, the legacy and the dynasty known as Kraft, Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots would forever be tainted.
There is no way Tom Brady could escape this one-not with the evidence laid out in a 243 page report that, for you, was worth the wait.
Perhaps you haven’t gotten a real taste of Tom Brady.
This is the kind of thing that makes him a fierce competitor. The second half of the AFC championship game and the Super Bowl game showed us that Tom Brady can play even better and win…with regulation and perfectly legal footballs. I certainly wouldn’t want to be the team to face him and the Patriots when he comes back to play.
But you’re not even thinking about that just yet. You’re sitting on the edge of your seat with popcorn in hand. Something rather entertaining is about to go down: Goodell is going to issue a statement and a punishment.
But don’t expect Brady to go down without a fight…and he has some big dogs in his corner.
Kraft, his lawyers, his PR people, Brady’s agent, Brady’s lawyers and his PR people have all read the same report you have. Kraft made a statement that he stands by what he said prior to the Super Bowl and disappointed with the report. Brady’s agent, Don Yee, has issued a statement, making it clear that the Patriots nor Tom Brady are preparing to issue any kind of public apology. So if you’re expecting or even hoping for one, don’t hold your breath.
If you’d like to read Don Yee’s statement along with links to Kraft’s statement, you can read that here. Mr. Yee has also been pretty busy talking to local media. If you’d like to read a Q&A article you can do so here. Be sure to look up the answer on whether he and Tom Brady are considering a lawsuit against Wells or the NFL.
Brady and his big dogs have set the wheels in motion, making sure Goodell knows that they are going after the league.
Won’t work? Trust me, this would get way more media coverage than any other lawsuit a player has made against the NFL. It doesn’t matter if they can or can’t win, damage will be done. Some things are going to be said that I’m sure will not paint Goodell or the NFL in a good light. This isn’t the wealthy and powerful NFL vs. some relatively unknown NFL linebacker charged with a “bountygate” scandal.
This is Tom-freaking-Brady who has the support of one of the most influential and powerful owners in the NFL. And he’s probably sick of the Patriots being the scapegoat and the target of teams with a stale taste of sour grapes in their mouths.
How could the NFL look bad in this situation if Brady and company decide to fight back? Well, for one it’s a little ironic that the whole thing that sparked this investigation, is a rule that was obviously not enforced and broken by their own official. The second issue is my favorite: they believe the NFL co-conspired with the Colts to set up a sting.
It’s quite clear from Jastremski’s texts to both McNally and his fiance that the refs over inflated a few balls to an illegal 16 psi.
Here is the text to McNally on 10/17/14:
Jastremski: I checked some of the balls this morn… The refs fucked us…a few of then were at almost 16
Jastremski: They didnt recheck then after they put air in them
There is also these texts from Jastremski to his fiance on 10/17/15 that is within the report (not in the highlight section) on page 86:
Jastremski Ugh…Tom was right
Jastremski: I measured some of the balls. They supposed to be 13 lbs… They were like 16. Felt like bricks
Ball psi was so important to the NFL and to the integrity of the game that Goodell went to the extreme of hiring an “independent” investigator who requested access to private property such as cell phones and emails. Yet they can’t ensure that their own officials are to be trusted to uphold the standard of the NFL shield?
What about the Jets getting an unfair competitive advantage by the officials giving Brady over-inflated illegal footballs that the Patriots are not allowed to fix or tamper with? How does this represent the so called “integrity of the game”?
Probably because in the end, football psi doesn’t give anyone much of a competitive edge, if any. We saw that when Brady steam-rolled the Colts when he played with regulation footballs.
You can point out anything in that report and say “here’s proof that Brady is a cheater”. But it isn’t proof, it’s an assumption. The truth is, no where does a text state that McNally deflates footballs after the refs inspect them. If he deflates them before he hands them to the refs for inspection, hoping a few slide by the refs, that isn’t illegal. It’s bad publicity for Tom, but it isn’t illegal.
No where does it say Tom asked anyone or expects anyone to do anything illegal such as deflate balls after the refs inspect them.
In fact, all Jastremski does is blame the refs when they were over inflated, not McNally. Not one text mentions guilt, such as: “Hey what happened? You missed a few.” It also should be noted that McNally is a part-time employee. He only works home games. He doesn’t travel with the Patriots so who would deflate the balls then? All other staff members have been cleared and exonerated with the exception of Jastremski. If Jastremski is the “deflator” for away games then why add a third person and continue the job at home too?
Peter King, of Monday Morning Quarterback, believes that they don’t have a “defaltor” for away games and argues that if the psi in a football mattered and compromised an equal level playing field, then why are Brady’s home and away games essentially the same? It also shows Tom Brady passes more yards in away games than at home games.
You can read about that here.
As for McNally using the bathroom for about 100 seconds on his way to the field. Maybe he had to go number two and wanted to use a private bathroom. It does say in the report that there were a lot of people in the locker room. A big party. Maybe he’s shy and doesn’t want to stink up the public bathrooms.
Am I making assumptions? Sure, but it’s no different than what Wells and his team of investigators have done.
Now on to the most interesting part of this report and the real ammunition Brady and his legal representatives will have to fight back the NFL…
Contrary to what some believe, the Colts didn’t just express concerns about the Patriots balls being under inflated, Grigson went as far as to forward the following email from his equipment manager, Sean Sullivan, to both David Gardi and Mike Kensil (a former Jets big wig who is well known to dislike Belichick and the Patriots):
“As far as the gameballs are concerned it is well known around the league that after the Patriots gameballs are checked by the officials and brought out for game usage the ballboys for the Patriots will let out some air with a ball needle because their quarterback likes a smaller football so he can grip it better, it would be great if someone would be able to check the air in the game balls as the game goes on so that they don’t get an illegal advantage.”
You can read about that here.
Quite specific don’t you think?
Not only do they accuse the Patriots of cheating, they suggest that the NFL should check the balls during the game. Something that has never happened in the history of the league.
It’s also interesting to note that Grigson has his own gripe with Belichick and the Patriots after feeling the sting of two Super Bowl losses against them. Two Patriots wins that some question due to “spygate”.
You can read about that here.
Grigson also added his own commentary to the email: “all the Indianapolis Colts want is a completely level playing field. Thank you for being vigilant stewards of that not only for us but for the shield and overall integrity of our game.”
All we need now is a picture of Grigson holding up a flag with the NFL shield waving proudly under the sun with his hand over his heart and a tear trickling down his cheek (commence eye roll.)
If Sean Sullivan and Grigson cared so much about the shield and an “equal level playing field”, then why did they wait to inform the league a few days before the AFC game? If it was “well known around the league” that Patriots illegally deflate balls after the refs check them, then why wouldn’t they have alerted the NFL sooner, like say a regular season game?
The whole thing stinks, along with the report and the NFL shield.
I very much believe this was a sting co-conspired with the Colts GM, Ryan Grigson, and Mike Kensil, albeit an amateur one, but a sting nonetheless. If we recall coach Chuck Pagano’s statement during the NFL columbine, he told the media that he had no idea about an issue with deflated balls until after the game was over. He was clueless. How could his equipment manager know but not the coach? How could Grigson forward an email from the equipment manager that it is “well known around the league” that Patriots illegally deflate balls and ask for them to be checked during game time, yet Chuck Pagano had “no idea” there was an issue until the next morning?
You can read about that here.
I’m not sure if you understand business politics, but a scandal like this and the current situation Goodell is in right now is not a comfortable one. He has stated before that he didn’t know anything about this ball deflation issue until after the game. You can find that quote in a Q&A session here.
If he’s telling the truth, this means someone else took it upon themselves to make certain decisions on how to handle this matter, those two people being Mike Kensil and David Gardi. Kensil made sure the officials knew and some others else within the league, yet he didn’t bother to inform Goodell about any of this.
Let me repeat. Kensil was just informed that it is “well known around the league” that the Patriots ball boys illegally tamper and let air out after the refs approve game balls, but he didn’t inform his boss of this serious matter and concern expressed by another team in a huge AFC championship game. A game in which if such actions were found out to be true, it would cause a media fire storm and investigation in which his boss, Goodell, would need to handle. But yet officials and a few selct others were privvy to this matter.
Either Goodell is lying, or Kensil didn’t want Goodell to know. And why wouldn’t he want Goodell to know? So he wouldn’t give warning to Kraft. Thus, making sure Kensil’s plans aren’t tampered with.
The Colts being aware of a possible sting or even having knowledge that there may be inspection of the balls during the game, most certainly does give them a competitive advantage. They can prepare and become extra cautious to ensure they follow ever letter of the law. They can be careful to pump their balls up a little more than they normally would to make sure that when the balls are checked during the game, their balls will stay within the legal limits.
How do we know this is how they would normally operate? We don’t and neither does the NFL. The NFL only had a statement on rumors. There was no proof or facts that the Patriots illegally take the air out of footballs. Just another team’s word over the other.
I’m really not sure why so many seem to have a problem with the league issuing a warning. They could have sent out a memo to all teams currently playing in the AFC championship that follows: “It has come to our attention that some have complained about the use of balls that were not within proper psi requirements. The NFL supports the integrity of the game and demands a fair and equal playing field for all teams. Any team that does not adhere to the rules of the NFL or intentionally sets out to gain a competitive edge over an opponent will be subject to investigation.”
This isn’t about helping the team that cheats. This is about having an equal playing field for all teams. It’s ensuring that the integrity of an important championship game will not be trifled with. It also tell thems that even though this rule imposes a usual slap on the wrist of a $25,000 fine, it is going to be taken very seriously because the NFL believes it compromises the “integrity of the game”.
After issuing this warning, if the NFL chooses to set a sting on the issue of ball deflation or over inflation, the fair thing to do would be to do so at an unknown time where neither team will be aware of it. They could choose any other game in the regular season and test the balls for multiple teams. Much like how players get random drug tests to ensure they are not taking PEDs to gain a competitive edge.
If the Patriots were caught with under-inflated balls after a warning was issued, then it would actually be worse. Nor could there be any argument that the NFL played favorites or co-conspired with another team, thus not giving one team an advantage.
No team should ever be involved in any potential sting with the NFL, nor should they have more knowledge than the other team over anything where they can prepare themselves to look good during a game. It would be ridiculous to say the NFL is watching the Colts. They knew the Colts would be sure to have their balls within regulation. They’d be more than stupid not to.
The report does it’s best to help Goodell, the NFL and the officials look good, but all it does is shine a light on the sloppy way this whole thing was handled during the AFC championship game. I could even argue that it was more probable than not that this was not only a sting but a set up to prompt and justify an investigation during half time.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the circumstantial evidence and add the pieces up…
It states in the report that Walt Anderson was informed of Grigson’s email that the Patriots illegally deflate footballs after officials inspect and approve them. How on earth did he lose the game balls! Wouldn’t you keep an even closer eye on them? It’s not like a set of keys went missing. Anderson lost two large bags full of footballs that were his job and responsibility to supervise, regardless of the festivities going on.
It was then said in the report that Anderson was upset and he said “we have to find those balls.”
When McNally took the balls, he headed towards the field, making one pit stop to the bathroom for about 100 seconds. After that, he went straight to the field. It’s not like there was a big mystery to where he was. They had 15 minutes before game time when they discovered the balls were missing.
If Walt was that upset, had warning that the Patriots cheat by deflating balls after the refs approve them and according to the report “It was the first time in Anderson’s nineteen years as an NFL official that he could not locate the game balls at the start of a game.”, why did he not approach McNally and investigate the balls then?
McNally breached protocal and broke a rule where he is supposed to get permission to take the balls from the ref. Why did they let the Patriots play with balls that could have been tampered with? How can you allow a game to go on when the integrity of the game may be compromised?
If time was an issue, they have approved back up balls. He could have taken McNally’s bag to be sent to the locker room for inspection and then handed McNally the approved back up balls. This would’ve left out any argument of ball psi being lowered due to atmospheric conditions and game play.
He either lost the balls, and didn’t ensure an equal level playing field by confiscating the balls before the start of the game because Walt Anderson is incompetent, or that wasn’t a part of the original plan of the evidence needed to justify an investigation by half time. If you’re setting up a sting, you need to be sure you’re going to get the evidence you need. How embarrassing would’ve it been for the league if Anderson confiscated the balls and they were at 12.4, 12.5, 12.6, etc.
It also seems very odd that McNally would feel so comfortable in taking balls without the refs permission if he at least hadn’t done so many times in the past. McNally has been in the NFL a long time and a locker room attendant for about ten years. This is not his first post game, nor his first championship game. If he was in the business of doing something illegal such as deflating footballs, I find it hard to believe he would make himself the focus of suspicion by doing something so shockingly out of the ordinary such as taking footballs without permission if this is something that doesn’t ever happen.
When the balls were measured during half time, they only had time to measure four of the Colts balls. How convenient (especially when used as a control in a scientific experiment). One ref measured them within the 12.5-13.5 range, while the second ref measured the same ones and noted that 3 of the 4 Colts balls were below 12.5 psi!
You can save the argument that sticking the needle in to measure the ball the first time let some air out. The first measurement was worse for the Patriots while the second measurement showed higher psi for the Patriots. But let me take this further. The ref who measured the first round of footballs for the Patriots also measured the first round of the Colts balls. The first round measurement conveniently all measured within the 12.5-13.5 range for the Colts. The first round of the Patriots balls all had the lowest measurements. On the second round by a different ref, the Patriots balls measured higher, while the Colts balls measured lower and 3 of their 4 balls were below the required psi level.
Explain that scientifically.
Mike Florio from Pro Football Talk, who by the way is no Patriots fan, explains the flaws concerning the recorded psi levels and pressure gauges here along with an updated larger flaw he points to in this article here. Walt Anderson doesn’t recall which gauge he used. Which is critical because if he used the other one he originally stated he believes he used, the Patriots ball deflation would’ve been explained by their scientific findings! I highly suggest you read this. Very interesting indeed.
And speaking of Science, did you know that Exponent, the same company Wells hired (who was in turn was hired by the NFL), did scientific research for a big tobacco company to prove that second hand smoke doesn’t cause cancer? Don’t believe me? You can read that here. This is not the type of company I would put my faith in to be unbiased and objective in the name of science.
I have a friend who understands physics and science in a way that I can’t. This is a man who makes six figures a year. He looked at the figures and measurements and read through the scientific study and threw his hands up at every flaw. I’m trying to convince him to write his own article.
And don’t even get me started on the K-ball situation where Anderson can’t remember if he put his signature approved mark on a ball that supposedly started a series of events that leads me to believe this was a plan for a set up. Mike Kensil and the NFL could never justify an investigation based on an intercepted ball that was handled by the equipment manager from the opposing team before handing over that ball to officials with a complaint. It was stated right in the report that the Colts equipment manager stuck a gauge into the ball and measured it…without supervision from an NFL official! You don’t think he could let a little air out at the same time?
No, Kensil needed something to justify investigating and measuring footballs at half time and the unapproved K-ball handed to an official by a Patriot staff member provided the ammunition he needed. If you read pages 132-139 of the report, you’ll know that this “unapproved” ball was first taken to the locker room after kick off by an official for charity reasons, but when Gostowski demanded to have it back, an official got the ball and then handed the “unapproved” ball to the Patriots staff. This official didn’t notice it was unapproved. When it was time for Gostowski to kick with the ball he wanted, McNally handed him the same K-1 ball another official handed him. But this official noticed it wasn’t approved and alerted Kensil.
An investigation was now ready to go full force.
Seriously, read the report with a critical and objective eye. Pretend this was your team being investigated by the NFL. Do you really trust the NFL and think they truly stand for the integrity of the game?
The Patriots were exonerated by Wells investigators from the K-ball situation. It’s something the NFL probably doesn’t want highlighted in the report and I don’t blame them. It makes the NFL look like a bunch of buffoons who either have no idea what their doing or had a specific plan for this all along. How convenient that these kind of mistakes would happen during a game where they were watching the Patriots for any suspicious ball activity.
Add all this with the numerous, misleading and half truth leaks to the media during and shortly after the game, and throughout the two weeks leading to the Super Bowl…what a complete and utter mess. How interesting that the leaks happened so fast and not to mention incorrect and misleading from the actual facts, that it set off a media firestorm and a PR nightmare Goodell had to deal with.
All this over under inflated footballs.
In 2012, the Chargers intentionally knew and “cheated” when they devised a crafty way to get stickum on players gloves on the sidelines so they could grip the ball better (sound familiar). They even tried to cover it up and throw away their evidence. There was no Ted Wells investigation.
Want to know the Charges punishment for being caught doing something illegal to gain a competitive edge? $20,000. And the NFL had actual proof. The Ted Wells report only has an assumption of “more probable than not”.
Tom Curran of CSN reminds of us the actual rule and punishment:
“Once the balls have left the locker room, no one, including players, equipment managers, ball boys, and coaches, is allowed to alter the footballs in any way. If any individual alters the footballs, or if a non-approved ball is used in the game, the person responsible and, if appropriate, the head coach or other club personnel will be subject to discipline, including but not limited to, a fine of $25,000.”
You can read about that here.
And some of you are still calling for year long suspensions and ripping future Hall of Fame titles and putting asterisks next to the Patriots latest Super Bowl win…a game in which regulation balls were ensured by the NFL.
You call this fair?
Oh yes, I’m “defending the wall”. After reading the actions of the NFL, I don’t care if Brady ever wanted air out of a football or not (which can’t be proven). I think this whole thing is ridiculous and blown way out of proportion. It didn’t even effect the game or the outcome of the game. It was a rule that imposes a $25,000 fine if balls are tampered with after the refs approve them. A rule that even officials didn’t care enough to enforce. A rule officials broke by inflating and approving balls that were way over the legal psi limit that supposedly effect “the integrity of the game”.
Give me a break. Honestly, if I hear that term one more time from the NFL, I will throw up.
I expect some entertainment coming this week, and I for one am looking forward to see how this all unfolds. If the league suspends Tom Brady, I hope he fights back with every thing he’s got. If he does, it will be quite a show. For once, I’d like the powers that be in the NFL to get a taste of their own medicine.
Wouldn’t it be great if we could read the private (not business) cell phone text messages of Kensil, Grigson, officials and the higher ups in the NFL before, during and after the AFC championship game? I promise they would be a lot more entertaining than McNally and Jastremski’s texts.
It would never happen, but one can dream.