On January 20, Chris Mortensen of ESPN tweeted that 11 of the 12 footballs used by the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game were under-inflated by two pounds of pressure per square inch. That report was incorrect.
So Mortensen deleted the tweet. Unfortunately, he waited more than six months to do so.
As of early this morning, we noted that Mortensen’s incorrect tweet was still live. And then we noticed later this morning that the tweet is gone. Presumably, Mortensen decided at some point in the last few hours to delete his tweet, although he hasn’t explained it publicly.
To his credit, Mortensen has admitted that the tweet was a mistake. But as many people have learned when they tweeted something and then wished they could take it back, just deleting a mistake doesn’t make it go away. Mortensen’s tweet (“NFL has found that 11 of the Patriots footballs used in Sunday’s AFC title game were under-inflated by 2 lbs each, per league sources”) still lives in the many news stories that quoted it. And Mortensen’s tweet was used for months to shape the Deflategate story. Even though PFT and others cast doubt on the report almost immediately, and even though the Patriots pleaded with the league office to correct the record, official confirmation that the balls were not as under-inflated as Mortensen’s source claimed didn’t come until the Wells Report was released months later.
That’s been one of the maddening things about the whole Deflategate mess: Accurate information has been hard to come by, and the gaps have been filled with inaccurate information.
Mortensen’s “2 lbs each” tweet was one of the big pieces of inaccurate information. It’s now off Mortensen’s Twitter timeline, long after the damage was done.