The results of an extensive investigation regarding the NFL’s New England Patriots, their star QB and league golden boy Tom Brady, and their circumvention of league rules have finally been released. The investigation was conducted by Ted Wells, a league appointed attorney, and in his 243 page report – he exposes what he believes to be misconduct by Brady and locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski, but not management or the coaching staff. Some of the key findings as reported by ESPN:
• “More probable than not” Patriots personnel “participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee”.
• “More than probable” Patriots QB Tom Brady “was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities” involving the release of air from the balls.
• “Unlikely an equipment assistant and a locker room attendant would deflate game balls without Brady’s knowledge and approval”.
• No wrongdoing “or knowledge of wrongdoing” by Patriots ownership, head coach Bill Belichick or any other Patriots coach.
• No deliberate attempt by the Patriots to introduce a non-approved kicking ball during the AFC Championship Game.
The report comes roughly four months after the Patriots claimed their latest Vince Lombardi trophy, defeating the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in the Super Bowl. The controversy began weeks prior after the Patriots defeated the Indiana Colts in a lopsided 45-7 victory for the AFC Championship. According to reports, the Colts complained following the game that several footballs were underinflated, and the NFL confirmed that indeed 11 of the 12 footballs were under the limit.
Per league rules, each football has to maintain a pressure of 12.5 to 13.5 PSI, and each team is independently responsible for the footballs they use on offense.
The league has yet to issue a punishment, and Tom Brady has yet to comment on the findings; however Brady’s agent has issued a statement doubting the legitimacy of the findings as well as questioning the relationship between the league and the firm hired, saying “the league is a significant client of the investigators’ law firm… This report contains significant and tragic flaws, and it is common knowledge in the legal industry that reports like this generally are written for the benefit of the purchaser.”