Initial reaction to Deflategate over three months ago was downright foolish. So what did you expect when the Wells Report was released?
While many rushed to judgment, I decided to read the entire 243-page report on air pressure in footballs. Read that sentence over again, and try not to laugh.
The only reason I finished the entire report was because I was waiting for the part where John Jastremski and Jim “Bird” McNally committed a horrific crime and then texted each other about hiding the evidence.
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That obviously never happened. Instead, we got a look into an investigation that digs deep into the personal text messages of a New England Patriots equipment assistant and an officials locker room attendant about footballs, sneakers, and autographs.
The result? “It is more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities.”
Whatever that means.
Before I go deeper, you should know how I’ve always felt about Deflategate. Since the story first broke, I’ve believed that Brady and his staff do something to the footballs in order to get him his preferred grip. I feel this way because it’s well documented that NFL quarterbacks do things to their footballs in order to get their preferred grip. So I also believe that Brady isn’t the only one “doctoring” his footballs to his own personal preference. After all, that’s what you get in a league that allows the teams to control their own footballs entering a game.
The Wells Report doesn’t change my mind on any of this. But as I also mentioned when Deflategate was first introduced, this isn’t a Patriots issue. This is a league issue. And the texts in this report show just that.
The morning after a Week 7 win over the Jets, Jastremski texted both his fiancee and McNally, saying that Brady was “acting crazy” and “complaining” about the “feel and inflation” of the footballs in that game. Jastremski’s texts confirmed Brady’s outrage was warranted.
“Ugh. Tom was right,” Jastremski texted his fiancee at 8:04 a.m.: “I just measured some of the balls. They’re supposed to be 13 lbs. They were like 16. Felt like bricks.”
An hour later, he texted McNally, saying, “I checked some of the balls this morning. The refs [expletive] us. A few of them were almost 16.”
Before the next game, Brady “suggested that the Patriots give the game officials a copy of Rule 2 when they delivered game balls prior to each game, so that the officials would know that it was not necessary to inflate them further [than 13.5 psi],” according to the report.
So clearly Brady has a trust issue with how officials prepare his game balls. And if you look at how referee Walt Anderson “purposefully overshot” the 12.5-13.5 psi range when inflating two Patriots footballs that were supposedly below the threshold prior to the AFC Championship game (because “it’s hard to be precise when adding air”), it’s clear that the process is flawed, beginning with the officials during pregame preparations.
And if the officials can’t get PSI levels correct, isn’t that where the investigation should begin?
It seems Brady decided to take that issue into his own hands. And since rules are rules, I would expect some type of fine. But that’s it. At least, that’s all it should be.
If you’re going to suspend him for what’s in the Wells Report, then you might want to also take a look at your own officials if you’re Roger Goodell. And while you’re at it, every team in the league.
Because something tells me that there were a lot of NFL quarterbacks who had to call their equipment assistants on Wednesday night.
That seems more probable than not.
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