South Carolina’s Jadeveon Clowney is already arguably the nation’s most feared defensive player, but he can’t enter the draft until after one more season. Mike Florio suggests he’d be wise to sit out this season to make sure he stays healthy. Florio also talks about the Jags’ decision to stick with Blaine Gabbert and Jerome Harrison’s tenure with the Steelers possibly coming to an end.This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!
PFT Live: College stars face huge injury risks
Rule Two, Section One of the NFL Rule Book states game footballs “shall remain under the supervision of the Referee until they are delivered to the ball attendant just prior to the start of the game.”
However, according to the Wells Report, when it came time for referee Walt Anderson and the officiating staff to take the game balls to the ball boys on the field 15 minutes before the AFC Championship game in January, the footballs were missing.
According to the report, Patriots officials locker room attendant Jim McNally took the footballs on to the field without the officials’ permission after bringing them into a bathroom for about 100 seconds.
Wrote the Wells Report investigators: “When it was suggested that McNally had or may have taken them to the field, Anderson responded that ‘he’s not supposed to do that.’ Anderson also stated that ‘we have to find the footballs.'”
The investigators also noted: “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.”
According to the Wells Report, Anderson and fellow NFL referee Clete Blakeman — also present for the AFC title game — described McNally’s removal of the footballs as unusual and not standard practice.
Wrote investigators: “Numerous game officials, including those assigned to the AFC Championship Game, told us that McNally generally does not remove the game balls from the Officials Locker Room without express permission or without being accompanied by one or more game officials. Walt Anderson said that in his experience, McNally has not removed, and is not permitted to remove, the game balls from the Officials Locker Room without his permission.
“Anderson also said that if McNally had asked to take the footballs to the field before he was ready to leave, he would have told McNally to wait. Anderson has always denied requests by ball boys and locker room attendants in other stadiums to take the game balls out before he was ready to go to the field.
“Similarly, Clete Blakeman—a referee on another officiating crew during the regular season — could not recall a previous instance where McNally took the game balls to the field on his own and without express permission. What happened on the day of the AFC Championship Game was, in his view, a ‘break in our normal protocol.'”
According to the Wells Report, McNally took the footballs out of the officiating locker room at 6:30, took them into the bathroom shortly thereafter and exited with the footballs at 6:32:27. He then took the footballs onto the field.
Less than three minutes later, Anderson and other officials went to look for the footballs — which had already departed, the Wells Report alleges.
The Colts raised more than a few eyebrows last Thursday night when they selected wide receiver Phillip Dorsett in the first round of the draft because they already had a strong crew of receivers on a team that many felt needed more beef on their defense.
Beyond that, Dorsett is a smallish, speedy receiver who looks a lot like T.Y. Hilton, who has caught 214 passes for 3,289 yards and 19 touchdowns during three seasons with the Colts. Don’t count Hilton among those who were surprised to see the Colts add another wideout even if his take on Dorsett’s arrival doesn’t suggest he thought wideout was a pressing need.
“There’s nothing I can do about that. That’s who they picked. That’s cool with me,” Hilton said, via the Indianapolis Star. “Nothing in this league should surprise anybody. (It was) a pick that they thought we needed, so I guess that’s what we needed to help this team.”
Hilton is entering the final year of his rookie contract, which has led some to suggest the Colts are being proactive in adding a player who could allow the offense to roll on unscathed should Hilton depart as a free agent. That may be the case, but the Colts’ wide receiver group might not look as stacked at this point next year even if Hilton gets a new deal.
Andre Johnson is turning 34 and Duron Carter has never played an NFL down, which leaves second-year player Donte Moncrief as the surest thing of the non-Dorsett and Hilton receivers on the roster after one year and 32 catches. While it’s certainly a stretch to say that receiver is a pressing need, the idea that Dorsett’s arrival is attached to Hilton’s future seems like it may be just as much of one.
In case you were jonesing for some Patriots news this afternoon, we’ve got you covered.
The Patriots released Dennard yesterday, an oddly timed event considering they didn’t draft one until the seventh round, and the offseason program has been going on.
But the Cards were happy to add the depth to their secondary, since they didn’t draft one at all last weekend.
Before the Ted Wells report on Deflategate was released on Wednesday, it looked like Bills running back LeSean McCoy’s assertion that Eagles coach Chip Kelly got rid of “all the good black players” the “fastest” since becoming the coach of the Eagles.
It’s not the first time that Kelly’s been the target of such a broadside as ESPN talking head Stephen A. Smith made similar comments shortly after McCoy was traded to the Bills that McCoy referenced in the ESPN Magazine interview featuring his own thoughts. Not everyone jettisoned by Kelly this offseason shares the viewpoint.
Longtime Eagles guard Todd Herremans, who is white and now plays for the Colts, was released before the Eagles traded McCoy (and signed DeMarco Murray and Ryan Mathews to fill his spot in the backfield) and was asked by a Twitter follower if he thought Kelly was a racist.
“I feel he is equally racist to all races … which I guess would make him … not racist,” Herremans wrote.
Last month, McCoy suggested that Kelly got rid of him and other players because he doesn’t like or respect star players. McCoy may not consider Herremans (or Nick Foles or other white players dispatched from Philly in the last few years) to be a star, but the sum total of Kelly’s moves suggest that skin color isn’t the determining factor of who stays or goes.
To the non-lawyer, the money quotes from the Ted Wells report suggest a mere probability that cheating occurred. But the specific terminology used by Wells actually indicates a belief that the evidence satisfies one of the most common standards used in a court of law.
“More probable than not” equates to a “preponderance of the evidence,” the standard that applies in most civil lawsuits. It means that the evidence makes it more likely than not, in the opinion of the investigator, that “New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules,” and that “Tom Brady . . . was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities.”
That’s a standard perhaps even higher than the one that applies to players accused of violating the Personal Conduct Policy, where “credible corroborating evidence” (even without cooperation from the alleged victim) can result in a significant suspension. Regardless, it’s enough proof on which the NFL can base punishment of a team.
“Too often, competitive violations have gone unpunished because conclusive proof of the violation was lacking,” Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to the NFL’s Competition Committee in 2008, after the last game-integrity infraction involving the Patriots. “I believe we should reconsider the standard of proof to be applied in such cases, and make it easier for a competitive violation to be established.”
Although there was nothing easy about the Wells investigation, his decision that a preponderance of the evidence points to a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules gives Goodell the green light to impose discipline.
Still, the use of the term “more probable than not” takes some of the sting out of the finding by allowing non-lawyers to believe that, as Patriots owner Robert Kraft has always said, there was no hard evidence of cheating. When it comes to issues of this nature, hard evidence isn’t needed to justify a stringent punishment.
Although Brooks — unlike McDonald — has not been named in a criminal complaint, the woman says in a civil lawsuit that Brooks sexually assaulted her.
According to CSNBayArea.com, the woman’s lawsuit says she slipped and fell on a pool deck, hit her head and was knocked unconscious, and that’s when Brooks fondled her.
“While she was unconscious from a subsequent fall, Brooks groped her person in a sexual manner,” the lawsuit says.
The 49ers released a statement confirming they are aware of the accusation against Brooks.
“The San Francisco 49ers organization is aware of the media report regarding Ahmad Brooks. We were disappointed to learn of this matter and will continue to monitor the situation,” the statement said.
The 49ers cut McDonald when he was accused last year. The 49ers’ statement said nothing about whether Brooks will be released as well.
Even if it didn’t come right out and say it, the main insinuation of the Ted Wells report on DeflateGate is that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady cheated, or at the very least was aware that cheating was happening on his behalf.
And that doesn’t sit too well with his father.
Tom Brady Sr. told Jim Corbett of USA Today that he’s not shaken in his belief in the upright nature of his son.
“I don’t have any doubt about my son’s integrity — not one bit,” Brady Sr. said. “In this country, you’re innocent until proven guilty. It just seems Tommy is now guilty until proven innocent. This thing is so convoluted. . . . They say that possibly — possibly — he was aware of this. The reality is if you can’t prove he did it, then he’s innocent, and lay off him. That’s the bottom line.”
Actually, there’s a pretty considerable gulf between not guilty and innocent, and it’s hard to look at the evidence in the report and come away thinking Brady had no knowledge of what was going on.
But dad was unmoved, saying the league was more worried about its image than his son’s.
“The league had to cover themselves. The reality is they had no conclusive evidence. This was Framegate right from the beginning,” he said. “They had to protect their asses, and that’s what they’re doing. . . .
“To impugn somebody without conclusive evidence saying this is more probable than not? The reality is they have scientific evidence. Now they’re overriding the scientific evidence and badgering the Patriots. It’s disgusting.”
Brady Sr. is reacting how any father would, or should react. And the league obviously has a vested interest in the appearance of integrity, which is why this thing dragged on so long.
But to suggest they’d target a four-time Super Bowl champion seems like a stretch.
It’s been a very quiet day around the Patriots on Wednesday, but there is a little bit of news about the team to inflate our pages.
Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the team had free agent linebacker Brandon Spikes in for a visit that probably didn’t spend much time on introductions. Spikes was a 2010 second-round pick in New England and spent the first four years of his career as a regular on the team’s defense.
Spikes left for Buffalo as a free agent last year and played in all 16 games for New England’s divisionmates before becoming a free agent again in March. He hasn’t generated a lot of interest on the open market, although there have been scattered reports of interest from the Bills in extending their working relationship. Spikes is a stout run defender, but doesn’t offer much help against the pass and that likely explains why his market has been chilly this offseason.
With Jerod Mayo returning alongside Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins, linebacker isn’t a particularly pressing need for the Patriots at the moment. If they did want to add some more depth, though, Spikes would provide it without needing much time to acquaint himself to playing for Bill Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia.
One of the most puzzling aspects of the #DeflateGate controversy came from a series of contradictory reports regarding the PSI measurements taken at halftime of the footballs used by the Patriots in the AFC championship game.
Initially, Chris Mortensen of ESPN reported that 11 of the 12 balls were two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum. PFT later reported that 10 of the balls were closer to one pound under the minimum than two. Hours before Super Bowl XLIX, Ian Rapoport of NFL Media reported that “[m]any of [the footballs] were just a few ticks under the minimum.”
The real numbers remained unknown, until the issuance of the Ted Wells report.
As it turns out, two sets of measurements were made, by alternate game officials Dyrol Prioleau and Clete Blakeman. The measurements involved only 11 Patriots footballs, with the ball that had been intercepted by Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson during the second quarter not included.
Prioleau’s measurements were, in PSI: (1) 11.8; (2) 11.2; (3) 11.5; (4) 11.0; (5) 11.45; (6) 11.95; (7) 12.3; (8) 11.55; (9) 11.35; (10) 10.9; and (11) 11.35.
Blakeman’s measurements were, also in PSI: (1) 11.5; (2) 10.85; (3) 11.15; (4) 10.7; (5) 11.1; (6) 11.6; (7) 11.85; (8) 11.1; (9) 10.95; (10) 10.5; and (11) 10.9.
Each of Prioleau’s measurements were higher, which suggests that: (1) Prioleau measured the air pressure before Blakeman; and (2) the mere act of insert a needle briefly into the football to test the internal PSI decreases the internal PSI noticeably.
Based on Prioleau’s numbers, NONE of the footballs were more than 1.6 PSI below the minimum. One was exactly 1.6 pounds below the minimum. Six were were between 1.0 and 1.5 pounds under the minimum. Three were between 0.5 and 1.0 pounds under the minimum. One was only 0.2 PSI below the minimum.
In other words, and as PFT reported at the time, 10 of the balls were closer to one pound under the minimum PSI than two.
Based on Blakeman’s numbers, only one ball was 2.0 pounds under the minimum. Another one was 1.8 pounds under. One was 1.65 under. One was 1.6 under. One was 1.55 under. Four fell between 1.0 and 1.4 PSI under. One was 0.9 PSI under. One was 0.65 PSI under.
The numbers show only one ball a full 2.0 PSI under — and that was based on a measurement that apparently happened after a different measurement showed that same ball at 1.6 PSI under. Given that Mortensen’s report was: (1) taken as completely accurate; and (2) pushed the entire scandal to a new level, it’s important to look at those numbers objectively and to assess carefully whether there’s a plausible atmospheric explanation for the loss in air pressure.
Further complicating matters for the NFL is the lack of clear evidence that the starting point for each ball was 12.5 PSI. Given that the NFL was aware of the issue before the game began, it’s stunning that a record of the measurements wasn’t made.
Moreover, and as suggested by the measurements made by Prioleau and Blakeman, the mere act of confirming that the balls were inflated to 12.5 PSI may have dropped them below the minimum.
The problem for the Patriots is that enough other evidence pointed to a violation to allow Ted Wells to conclude that the preponderance of the evidence suggests to deliberate manipulation. Regardless, the raw numbers aren’t nearly as bad as they were originally portrayed to be.
In the interests of fairness to everyone, that fact can’t be disregarded.
Among the most notable assertions in Wednesday’s Wells Report on alleged football under-inflation by the Patriots was that investigators believe it was “more probable than not” that New England quarterback Tom Brady was “at least generally aware” that two Patriots gameday employees were letting air out of footballs.
Writing in the report, the investigative team points to the “material increase in the frequency of telephone and text communications” between Brady and a Patriots staffer alleged to have manipulated footballs as “evidence of Brady‟s awareness” of efforts to under-inflate footballs.
Those communications, the report alleges, picked up beginning on Monday, January 19, when the deflation allegations came to light.
According to the Wells Report, Brady and Patriots equipment assistant John Jastremski communicated via telephone at least six times before Jastremski turned in his telephone to the Patriots to be imaged forensically on January 21.
Overall, Brady and Jastremski had two conversations apiece occurring on January 20 and 21 and “at least” two conversations on January 19, investigators assert. Brady and Jastremski spoke for nearly an hour in total over the three days, the Wells Report found.
Moreover, investigators allege they found Brady sent text messages to Jastremski “seemingly designed to calm” the equipment assistant.
“You good Jonny boy?” read one of the texts allegedly sent by Brady to Jastremski.
Wrote Jastremski in one of his text messages to Brady, as found by the report: “Still nervous; so far so good though.”
According to the Wells Report, Jastremski and Brady had not texted or communicated over the phone for more than six months prior to January 19.
Brady is also alleged to have invited Jastremski to the Patriots’ quarterbacks room on January 19 — something that had never occurred previously, Jastremski was alleged to have told investigators.
After the inflation allegations against the Patriots surfaced after their win in the AFC title game on January 18, Brady told Boston radio station WEEI that it was “ridiculous” to believe New England was improperly altering footballs.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft promised his full cooperation with the Ted Wells investigation.
What Wells found from the Patriots was something that falls well below the threshold of full.
The Wells report said that the Patriots refused to make officials locker room attendant Jim McNally available for a follow-up interview which was requested, “despite our offer to meet at any time and location that would be convenient for McNally.”
The report said Patriots counsel apparently didn’t inform McNally of the request, and that the refusal “violated the club‟s obligations to cooperate with the investigation under the Policy on Integrity of the Game & Enforcement of League Rules and was inconsistent with public statements made by the Patriots pledging full cooperation with the investigation.”
That sets the stage for some significant punishment for the team, which began this process with bluster, demanding an apology from the league if no evidence was found.
The team wasn’t alone playing keep-away, as quarterback Tom Brady refused to provide text messages and e-mails “even though those requests were limited to the subject matter of our investigation” which means they weren’t just looking for cell phone pics of Gisele Bundchen.
The report also concluded that the Patriots “questioned the integrity and objectivity of game officials, various NFL executives and certain NFL Security representatives present at the AFC Championship Game or otherwise involved in the investigative process.”
That’s not surprising. People put on the defensive act defensively. But the team that boasted about full cooperation then refused to cooperate fully, and that’s something the organization will likely answer for soon.
During the week after the AFC Championship Game, when Deflategate became the No. 1 story in America, Patriots coach Bill Belichick privately talked to quarterback Tom Brady and asked him directly whether he had ordered anyone to deflate the team’s footballs. Brady assured Belichick he’d done nothing wrong.
That’s the word from the report from investigator Ted Wells, which says that Brady convinced Belichick that no rules had been broken.
“Belichick asked Brady directly whether he had any knowledge about any of the issues raised by the press since the AFC Championship Game,” the report says. “According to Belichick, Brady said ‘absolutely not.’ Belichick stated that he then asked if Brady or anyone Brady knew had tampered with or in any way altered the footballs. Brady again denied any knowledge or involvement. Belichick recalled that Brady also explained that once he inspects and approves game balls, those balls are exactly as he likes them and that he would not want anyone to do anything to them after that point. Belichick believed Brady. Belichick and Brady attended the team meeting, and Belichick told the team that there was ‘not one shred of truth’ to the deflation allegations. When given the floor, Brady repeated what he had told Belichick about wanting game balls to be exactly as he approved them.”
The investigation strongly suggests that Brady did, in fact, pressure the Patriots’ equipment staff to deflate footballs used by the team. But the investigation also suggests that Belichick was unaware. If the NFL is going to make a high-profile person within the Patriots organization suffer consequences over this, it’s going to be Brady, not Belichick.
Of all the elements of the Ted Wells report which cast Patriots quarterback Tom Brady in a poor light, a series of text message exchanges between the pair of guys who got game balls where they needed to be and when are near the top of the list.
The messages, not all of which are able to be reprinted here on a family website, give a pretty strong suggestion that not only was Brady in on the deflation, but that he was signing autographs in exchange for special treatment.
The messages between Jim McNally [the officials locker room attendant] and John Jastremski [a Patriots equipment assistant] show a level of detail and planning that indicates this wasn’t a random, or one-time occurrence.
The first exchange was after an Oct. 17, 2014 game against the Jets when Brady complained about the pressure of the balls.
Jastremski wrote “Tom sucks. im going make that next ball a f—in balloon.”
McNally replied: “Talked to him last night. He actually brought you up and said you must have a lot of stress trying to get them done…”
McNally, apparently not a fan of Brady’s (or at least his level of attention of air pressure) made several references to pumping the balls up to “watermleon” or “rugby” size, since Brady preferred softer ones for better control.
Prior to the next game, McNally wrote: “The only thing deflating sun..is his passing rating.”
There was then a discussion of McNally receiving free shoes and gear, and prior to the Jan. 10 game against the Ravens, the two of them were in the equipment room with Brady when McNally “received two footballs autographed by Brady and also had Brady autograph a game-worn Patriots jersey that McNally previously had obtained.”
McNally later referred to himself as “the deflator,” and chided Jastremski by saying “im not going to espn……..yet.”
Those exchanges make it hard to imagine Brady had no knowledge of what’s going on, which he’ll need to answer for later.
Ryan Grigson complained to NFL about Patriots’ footballs both before and during AFC Championship Game
Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson complained to the NFL both before and during the AFC Championship Game that the Patriots were cheating by illegally deflating their footballs.
The Deflategate report released today says that Grigson first contacted the NFL the day before the game, sending the NFL’s football operations department an email stating that Colts equipment manager Sean Sullivan had told him it was commonly known around the league that the Patriots regularly violated the rules by deflating their footballs.
“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,” said the email from Grigson, which attributed that “well known” information to Sullivan.
NFL head of officiating Dean Blandino made a point of telling referee Walt Anderson before the AFC Championship Game to make sure the Patriots’ footballs were checked. But after the Colts intercepted two Tom Brady passes, both footballs were checked on the Colts’ sideline and found to be under-inflated. Word of that got up to Grigson, and he went to league officials to complain just before halftime.
“Grigson said that he made clear to [NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent and V.P. of game operations Mike Kensil] that he understood that there was a problem with the inflation level of a Patriots football—the precise issue the Colts had raised prior to the game—and that he was not happy about the situation. Kensil and Vincent told Grigson that they were on their way to look into the issue,” the Deflategate report says.
Now, more than three months later, the investigation has concluded that it’s more likely than not that those footballs were under-inflated purposely by the Patriots. Grigson was right to complain.
Tom Brady may face league discipline after the Deflategate investigation has come to an end.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell acknowledged in his brief statement on the matter that the league will consider “possible disciplinary action.” Goodell didn’t mention Brady or anyone else by name in that statement, but the investigation concluded “it is more probable than not” that Brady was generally aware that Patriots employees were taking air out of footballs to give Brady a competitive advantage.
Given that, it also seems more probable than not that Brady will be disciplined. Brady’s name is mentioned 378 times in the Deflategate report. By contrast, Bill Belichick’s name is mentioned 32 times. If some high-profile member of the Patriots organization is going to be in trouble over this, it’s Brady.
What kind of discipline is Brady facing? That’s impossible to say, given that there’s never been a rules violation like this in NFL history. The league might consider a fine to be severe enough, but a suspension can’t be ruled out.
Brady is an NFL icon, perhaps the NFL’s biggest and best star of his generation. He now may have a permanently tarnished image.