After the pomp and circumstance that was the NFL Draft last week, the league released its report on the Patriots and their complicity in yet another cheating scandal, deflating footballs at halftime of the AFC Championship game against the Colts.
Though the competitive advantage gained from lowering the PSI of the footballs made no difference as the Pats earned a blowout victory, the simple fact remained: someone broke the rules.
Tom Brady, Bill Belichick (prior to their improbable Super Bowl win over the Seahawks in early February) and others claimed they had no idea how it happened, so the NFL's report, released Wednesday afternoon, shed some answers--but not many.
The Ted Wells report stated that: "For the reasons described in this Report, and after a comprehensive investigation, we have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship Game, it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules.
The 243 page document goes on th say that "it is more probable than not that 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 view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls."
Brady denied, denied denied, so his perceived knowledge of the actions of his coworkers in the lockerroom makes it appear he lied repeatedly to football fans this past January.
The report did not, however, blame Patriots personnel, kicker Stephen Gostkowski, the owner of the Pats or Bill Belichik for putting deflated balls out for play. "We find that the Patriots personnel involved believed the ball to be authentic and appropriate ... 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."
Texts between Jastremski and McNally show that the two complained about Brady's requests about inflation levels of the footballs. The report states that McNally expresses "knowledge that Brady prefers footballs inflated at the low end of the permissible range and his express request that the referee set the balls at a 12.5 psi level."
Jastremski and McNally repeatedly joke in their texts that they will inflate balls for Brady till they are like "watermelons" because they find his requests annoying, but McNally also refers to himself as "the deflator" in the texts.
The Patriots and owner Robert Craft released a statement that in no uncertain terms criticized the report for having "no incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation."
"Knowing that there is no real recourse available," the New England statement read, "fighting the league and extending this debate would prove to be futile. We understand and greatly respect the responsibility of being one of 32 in this league and, on that basis, we will accept the findings of the report and take the appropriate actions based on those findings as well as any discipline levied by the league."
Penalties for the Patriots actions are still undetermined, if there are to be any.