Judge didn’t buy NFL’s claims that Ted Wells was “independent”

AP

When the NFL first announced that Deflategate would be investigated, it hired Ted Wells to lead what the league termed an “independent” investigation. More than seven months later, Judge Richard Berman has made clear that he doubts Wells’s independence.

In his opinion vacating Tom Brady’s suspension, Berman put the word “independent” in quotation marks when he used it to refer to Wells’s investigation. And Wells made clear that he believes the NFL’s handling of Wells’s investigation was unfair to Brady, noting that NFL general counsel Jeff Pash was allowed to edit Wells’s report, while Brady was not allowed to question Pash.

“Denied the opportunity to examine Pash at the arbitral hearing, Brady was prejudiced. He was foreclosed from exploring, among other things, whether the Pash/Wells Investigation was truly ‘independent,’ and how and why the NFL’ s General Counsel came to edit a supposedly independent investigation report,” Berman wrote.

Berman also wrote that it was “seemingly inconsistent” for Wells’s law firm to act as counsel to the NFL while simultaneously conducting an “independent” investigation.

The NFL paid Wells millions to conduct its investigation. Judge Berman thinks that very fact shows Wells’s investigation lacks independence, because when someone is paying you millions of dollars, you’re probably going to tell them what they want to hear.

120 responses to “Judge didn’t buy NFL’s claims that Ted Wells was “independent”

  1. NOBODY bought the claims that a lawyer, hired by the NFL, with attorney-client privilege, that has made MILLIONS off the NFL was INDEPENDENT for 1 second!

    when we, as a society, grab our pitchforks and chase people simply because they are better than us, more successful than us, then we are nothing but a hating jealous mob.

    Brady is the greatest and no amount of jealousy can change that.

  2. Goodell- 0 Players- 5 this is getting ugly, but the one thing that stands out is Goodell is not calling the shots, a group of owners are making the calls and they have Goodell as the fall guy….the NFL is in trouble, they need a real commissioner who will save them from themselves before its to late

  3. No doubt the judge could have eviscerated the Well$ report in many ways but the core of his ruling is actually much more favorable to the NFLPA than that. By basing it on the procedural flaws and lack of notice he strengthened the NFLPA’s position immensely

  4. This whole investigation was a sham….

    Ball boys testified 5 times, but none of that was used by the NFL.

    Brady handed over all the electronic documents on his phone, he never needed to turn over the physical phone.

    The Deflator text was in May, but he somehow forgot he was supposed to deflate balls in November.

    Brady didnt cheat, and no matter how many times you yell cheater it wont make it true.

  5. Only the haters bought such a ridiculous assertion. Of course they didn’t even need any evidence. There blind hatred for Brady and the Pats is more than enough for them to convict Brady of anything.

  6. Please can someone here at PFT wrote an article to clarify what today’s decision means. No where in the ruling did Berman say that Brady didn’t deflate footballs. Berman had a problem with the process of this not the substance. Pats fans claiming Brady is innocent need to get with reality. It’s no different than an offender getting off on a technicality. He may be a free man but he still deflated footballs.

  7. Karma for Goodell destroying the spy gate evidence. Now he will lose his job because he went after the same team he helped years ago. How ironic.

  8. All the “fans” of other teams are so angry about this.. but they don’t realize this is a win for all players of every team.. Most of the players in the nfl are happy about this.. Just because you don’t like tom brady because he wins at everything in life doesn’t mean you cant be happy about this.. some day a player on your team will benefit from this decision.

  9. And remember, haters, Goodell WANTED this!

    The NFL filed first, literally right after the appeal ended. They rushed to beat the NFLPA to the punch so they could get this case into their HAND PICKED legal venue—the Southern District of New York, rather than in Minnesota.

    Their hand picked Judge gave the NFL multiple opportunities to settle but they refused, their arrogance blinding them to how flimsy their case was.

    The NFL did literally everything in their power to stack the deck against Brady and they still lost. That is how obviously bad their case was!

  10. Thank you. I understand Pats fans are ecstatic over this ruling, but let’s keep in mind the courts ruling has nothing to do with Brady’s involvement, or lack there of, in deflating footballs. The ruling has everything to do with the NFL’s and Goodell’s complete abuse of power.

  11. Remember Pats fans, this is a ruling on the suspension not an opinion on how much Brady knew. The “deflator” wasn’t trying to lose weight my friends. There’s still something fishy in Foxborough.

  12. This ridiculous case ended exactly the way I hoped it would. I am not a Patriots fan, and I am not a Tom Brady worshiper.
    But it was obvious from day one that Goodell was trying to hammer Brady to get back some of the credibility that he lost because of the way he handled the Ray Rice case.
    Goodell is a liar, and he is also power hungry.
    Well, guess what? Goodell just got planted by Tom Brady.
    This whole drama was a joke from day one, and if Goodell had any brains, he’d have known he opened up a can of worms which will now turn into snakes.
    Every NFL player now knows that they can take Goodell to court when they feel they have been unfairly penalized by him — and they know they have a chance to win.
    Let’s not forget it was Goodell who wanted this case taken to NY, where the courts have been very kind to the NFL. But this time, the judge saw that Goodell was out to get Brady and he was not about to let him get away with it.
    This is a victory for Brady and all the players. And if the owners are smart, they’ll fire Goodell.

  13. So Brady and the Patriots don’t even get a slap on the wrist for this one. Everyone knows that they cheated and that they undoubtedly cheated in the previous games during this playoff run. Belichek the cheat wins again. I hope that the courts are prepared to run all the disciplinary actions of the league from now on .

  14. Haters, don’t be angry at Brady for getting away with it. Be angry at Goodell for handing down what was excessive punishment in the first place for something that the Ted Wells report didn’t even prove. If you didn’t read the report, the summary of it basically came to the conclusion that Brady was probably aware of the deflation of the footballs. So probably aware warrants a fine plus 4 game suspension? I’d said no. Goodell should have gave 2 games and the fine. Brady probably still would have fought it and won but at least the NFL wouldn’t be taking as much of a hit as they are now. Another thing with some of you hypocrits. You claim Goodell has too much power but then when he hands down excessive punishment to a player or team you hate, you agree with it without even looking at the facts.

  15. Haters, don’t be angry at Brady for getting away with it. Be angry at Goodell for handing down what was excessive punishment in the first place for something that the Ted Wells report didn’t even prove. If you didn’t read the report, the summary of it basically came to the conclusion that Brady was probably aware of the deflation of the footballs. So probably aware warrants a fine plus 4 game suspension? I’d said no. Goodell should have gave 2 games and the fine. Brady probably still would have fought it and won but at least the NFL wouldn’t be taking as much of a hit as they are now. Another thing with some of you hypocrits. You claim Goodell has too much power but then when he hands down excessive punishment to a player or team you hate, you agree with it without even looking at the facts.

  16. “Why won’t Brady turn over his phone and did you see these private texts he wrote about Peyton Manning?”

    Trolls lose, logic prevails, America.

  17. It is incredible that the NFL paid millions for the word likely and they pursued a penalty based on that limp report. They probably used the fine money to fund this thus charities lost.
    I want to know where the fine money really goes?

  18. “Wells made clear that he believes the NFL’s handling of Wells’s investigation was unfair to Brady,”

    That’s crazy, bro.

  19. remember when Al Davis beat the NFL in court?

    We been seeing yellow flags fall from the heavens for 20 something years after that.

    maybe it will move to NE now.

  20. This is not Justice. The only people served by this ruling are the liars, cheats & dishonorable of the world.

    I wonder how much $$$ Kraft & his cronies deposited into Berman’s offshore accounts?

  21. Brady is vindicated! He is not getting off on a technicality. The judge clearly stated there is no finding in this case supporting the notion that Brady did or knew anything which caused the balls in the AFC Championship game to be under inflated.

  22. First thing the NFL needs to do is fire their lawyers. It takes a special kind of incompetence to lose an arbitration confirmation case, and the NFL has lost a bunch of them. Arbitration awards are confirmed well over 90% of the time. The NFLPA won not because they had the better case, but because they had the better lawyer. With a better lawyer, the NFL should win on appeal, the law is squarely on its side.

  23. here is the typical hater reaction:

    after going to 5 stages of grief, blurts out “I know he did it”.. cheater ..bla bla bla…” and slowly crawls back to mom’s basement.

    Suck it haters ! TB12 rules even in court !

  24. This goes to the heart of the entire Deflategate investigation, basically blowing it apart legally after its factual flaws have been already fully exposed for all to see.

    Forget appealing, the only proper response at this point by the NFL is to also vacate the team punishment against the Patriots, and clean house by getting rid of the stooges who pushed for this disaster (Kensil, Vincent, etc) and/or possibly Goodell himself.

  25. It would be fantastic if this was over – at least in the courts – but this ruling won’t change anyone’s opinion about deflategate.

    The haters will continue to harp on anything they want as “evidence” of cheating, and everyone who approaches this rationally will see that the NFL blew this issue out of proportion and made it into this never-ending slog.

    I don’t know if anyone in the Patriots organization every intentionally deflated a football below regulation, but I will continue to believe the answer is “no” until proven otherwise.

  26. Tom Brady will forever be known as a liar and a cheat who got off because of incompetence by the NFL. He laughed in the face of infractions, destroyed evidence and now we have to watch him continue to carry out the facade that he knew nothing about this.

  27. I’m sorry I don’t think Brady won anything. The only person held accountable is a glorified ball boy making 20 k a yr. That’s a total slimeball move on Brady’s and kraft’s part. I don’t care if ur a pats fan or not u can clearly feel for a working man getting the shaft by the multimillionaire bosses.

  28. That’s right all you billionaire owners, just keep hiring former Jets employees for your front office. They do an outstanding job running the league operations, don’t you think?

  29. I think Brady is full of crap when it comes to disposing his phone among other things, but the judge ruled this case in the right way. Goodell and the arrogance of people in power need to be stopped when it goes a step too far.

  30. I think this is probably right decision. based on no smoking gun. Probably not more than a fine should have gone to Brady.

    Now to make leap that nothing happen is a big leap. I believe many teams, send ball to the officials based on what their quarterback finds as optimal. Hopeing the officials will pass them. I don’t think any would be brash enough to alter them after they have been inspected. Thus the penalties against the Patriot organization. Even in Brady told them to deflate balls, the organization should have enough integrity to not allow that to happen. Thus I believe the penalty against the organization was just and what they did to Brady was over reaching.

  31. Yeah, Judge Berman didn’t seem amused by the fact that Paul, Weiss somehow transitioned from running an “independent” investigation to representing the NFL at the appeal.

  32. I don’t even have to read the comments anymore…just scroll down and look at the thumbs up and thumbs down and that tells the story. This is the most polarizing story of the last decade…one side you have Pats supporters that want the truth to come out and on the other you have Pats haters that want to believe they cheated and don’t need ANY evidence….
    The NFL was sunk the minute the judge said everything must be public…..that is when the NFL’s case spiraled down hill.

  33. No, let’s be realistic. Does anyone honestly believe that the NFL lawyers advising Goodel would have told him to withold Wells notes and refuse to let Pash be questioned at the appeal?

    The NFL has planned on losing this appeal all along. But the longer it played out the more the focus moved away from Kensil and Grigson.

    In the end those who hated the Pats still hate them and the Pats fans are vindicated. Goodel looks like he tried to be tough but lost in court.

    In the meantime no one is looking into the dirty laundry within the offices of the NFL.

    Shield protected.

  34. But why would the league want to prove its biggest star cheated? That is just one of the things that doesn’t make sense.

    At the end of the day, the entire structure of the NFL is a farce. I wish I could stop caring about this filthy, exploitative, addictive, corrupt, violent game. Shame on me for not being able to using my brains and walk away from the cheaters and the enablers and the users and the just plain rotten people.

  35. birdgang says:
    Sep 3, 2015 11:58 AM

    Please can someone here at PFT wrote an article to clarify what today’s decision means. No where in the ruling did Berman say that Brady didn’t deflate footballs.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Of course it didn’t. That wasn’t even under consideration in this case. Whether the judge thought that he was innocent or guilty, that wouldn’t have swayed the decision.

    This was simply a case to determine if the process that the league had used to administer the 4 game suspension, and then hear Brady’s appeal of that suspension, was within the CBA. The judge found that it wasn’t. I don’t see what Goodell is going to appeal.

    If the owners don’t replace Goodell (and a few others in the league front office) then they really do not care what happens to the league.

  36. birdgang says:
    Sep 3, 2015 11:58 AM

    Please can someone here at PFT wrote an article to clarify what today’s decision means. No where in the ruling did Berman say that Brady didn’t deflate footballs. Berman had a problem with the process of this not the substance. Pats fans claiming Brady is innocent need to get with reality. It’s no different than an offender getting off on a technicality. He may be a free man but he still deflated footballs.

    ——————————————–

    No, the thing that says Brady is innocent is the fact that the balls were not deflated beyond the natural loss of pressure expected given the game conditions. This has been demonstrated over and over again by using only the data within the Wells report itself.

    During the hearings the Judge did point out that the NFL has no evidence of a “general awareness” of someone else “more probably then not” deflating footballs.

    What the verdict said was the process was biased against him. So any verdict to derive from that process is invalid. Therefore, he is innocent until proven guilty.

    So A) there is no proof anybody did anything, B) if they did, there is no evidence he knew about it, and C) he was railroaded.

  37. This strengthens all lawsuits against the NFL. Sean Payton should sue the NFL & Goodell, the Dolphins coach that got fired will win his lawsuit, Brady should sue Goodell, Pash, Nash, Wells, Kensil, Kravitz, Mort, ESPN and the NFL for $31 billion the rest for $1 billion for defamtion.

  38. “The NFL paid Wells millions to conduct its investigation. Judge Berman thinks that very fact shows Wells’s investigation lacks independence, because when someone is paying you millions of dollars, you’re probably going to tell them what they want to hear.”

    The implication here is that the NFL “wanted to hear” that Tom Brady was cheating, so they paid a company to investigate and conclude that predetermined fact.

    Can you do more than imply? Do some “independent” investigative journalism and get to the bottom of this. Please disclose the reason the NFL falsified a million dollar investigation in an attempt to bury the most popular marketing asset (aka, player) in their entire business.

    It seems to me the most important result of the ruling is that the NFL and Goodell overstepped their authority by disciplining a player without precedent and without warning. The judge did not conclude that Brady was innocent or that Ted Wells or Pash falsified the results.

  39. .
    @sizemore
    @cuda

    re : Bullygate / Incognito

    You’re both right. Bullygate was a sham. However, the average fan only recently got some facts. We originally thought it was a fair and impartial investigation. We thought, ” Why would they lie?”
    .

  40. swagger52 says:
    Sep 3, 2015 1:06 PM

    This is not a ruling on Brady’s guilt, rather on the unfairness of Brady’s punishment. The judge basically thinks he knows better.
    ___

    And he basically does. Bermans knowledge of all things legal > Goodells.

    And he also basically said the Wells report was not independent and therefore you know, basically, rigged.

  41. Yeah I think the fact that the firm that wrote the Wells report was representing the NFL in Tom Brady’s appeal was a pretty obvious sign that the investigation wasn’t independent. Not enough was made of that amazing fact. Illustrated the arrogance of the NFL in that they were like “yeah, so what, what are you going to do about it”.

  42. Most people who comment on this story either way haven’t actually read the appeal hearing transcript. When you read it, I swear it looks like the NFL’s strategy was “how can we conduct this hearing so unethically that we can’t possibly prevail when this case goes to court”. And that is why the Judge ripped them so thoroughly and so consistently.

  43. The NFL stated in court there was NO EVIDENCE!
    Having just read the 40 page decision, it is a HUGE win for Tom. The fact that the NFL is appealing shows how incompetent they are.
    It’s not 4 th and inches, rather 4th & VERY long. Punt!!

  44. jundabus says:
    Sep 3, 2015 12:02 PM

    Thank you. I understand Pats fans are ecstatic over this ruling, but let’s keep in mind the courts ruling has nothing to do with Brady’s involvement, or lack there of, in deflating footballs. The ruling has everything to do with the NFL’s and Goodell’s complete abuse of power.

    ———
    “The ruling has everything to do with the NFL’s and Goodell’s complete abuse of power”

    which is exactly what was used to deem Brady guilty. you’re right, the ruling doesn’t say Brady is innocent, but it does say that the methods used by Goodell and the NFL to find Brady guilty are not acceptable.

  45. To all the haters that said: “Brady will never take this to court” and later said: “Brady will get killed in court” I have one question: “How do you like your crow served”?

  46. The judge did a great job. He destroyed the NFL in the public portions of the hearings. He questioned the lack of evidence and essentially showed the Nation Brady was innocent of these charges and that no evidence existed showing any tampering occurred.

    His written decision is carefully crafted to leave the league no grounds for appeal. He was not charged with or able to speak to innocence-only process. That is why he wrote the decision without mentioning innocence. His questions in the hearings had already done that.

    Berman was great in acknowledging Brady’s innocence in his lines of questioning. He was brilliant in not writing it in to his decision.

  47. nflexecutivesconstantlylie says:
    Sep 3, 2015 2:38 PM
    The judge did a great job. He destroyed the NFL in the public portions of the hearings. He questioned the lack of evidence and essentially showed the Nation Brady was innocent of these charges and that no evidence existed showing any tampering occurred….
    Berman was great in acknowledging Brady’s innocence in his lines of questioning. He was brilliant in not writing it in to his decision.
    ______________________________
    A brilliant and accurate post.

  48. When you step back and look at how inane and ridiculous this entire soap opera was, it’s hard to believe the NFL actually went for broke. The core of the entire investigation was built around an under-inflated ball somehow giving a QB an unfair advantage. Leaving all of the other shenanigans aside, there’s no question that this was by far the dumbest witch hunt in the history of professional sports, exacerbated and compounded by erroneous and misleading leaks from the NFL itself.

  49. The haters claimed Brady would not testify under oath. He did at the appeal

    Haters claimed Brady would not take his case to federal court. He did

    Haters claimed Brady would lose in court. He won.

    the haters claimed Wells report was independent, the NFL admitted it was not independent and used attorney client privilege to keep evidence out of court.

    The haters claimed the NFL had evidence against Brady. While the NFL lawyers admitted in court they had no evidence against Tom Brady

    while the lies of Goodell came to light during the appeal process, the facts exonerating Brady came to light. Justice prevailed. Goodell loses in court again and again and again and again.

  50. It’s nice to see the Kensil/Grigson sting op has failed.

    When they were measuring the Colts footballs at half time, and the the 3rd of 4 was underinflated – then an official stopped further measurements (of Colt’s FBalls) stating “this isn’t abouth the Colts, is about the Patriots”.

    You had to know at that point, that it was a setup, (and a poorly executed one at that) i.e. entrapment!

  51. So I don’t believe for a second that Brady didn’t know the balls were being deflated, but I also don’t think Goodell was remotely competent in any aspect of the investigation. The NFL just isn’t even trying any more.

  52. The right decision.

    This line from Berman is great: “It does not appear that the NFL has ever, prior to this case, sought to punish players for such an alleged violation …”

    The NFL is hiding something. Why didn’t they turn over notes, allow Pash to be interviewed? They knew those things weren’t legal in appeal hearings.

    Also from Berman: “The Award is premised on several significant legal deficiencies, including (A) inadequate notice to Brady of both his potential discipline (four-game suspension) and his alleged misconduct; (B) denial of the opportunity for Brady to examine one of the two lead investigators, namely NFL Executive Vice President and General Counsel Jeff Pash, and (C) denial of equal access to investigative files, including witness interview notes.”

  53. Wells and his law firm and all of its employees need to be banned from ever conducting ‘independent’ studies for the NFL. If you represent a client, there is a slim chance you could later do an independent investigation when hired by that same client.

  54. There is a perfectly easy solution to preventing further instances in the future. Hire an official whose sole responsibility it is to overhear all appeals on league fines and suspensions. Have this official be a full time employee whose salary is paid 50% by the league and 50% by the NFLPA.

  55. Ted Wells should be disbarred for his hatchet job on Tom Brady…The investigation was actually a second rate attempt at prosecution with its aim to bias the press and inflame hatred toward the Patriots, becuae this is what Goodell paid for. Thsi is why the NFL did not even attempt to claim Wells did an independent investigation..although the NFL did lie to the media for months claiming an independent investigator was investigating and they used this excuse in their failure to correct the false leaks about the balls being 2 pounds under-inflated…when the Patriots asked for details and a correction to the false media reports, Goodell claimed it was out of his hands, because he hired an “independent investigator”…the lies of Goodell were finally exposed after he tried to keep the appeal process sealed.

  56. Total BS ! The CBA that the players union signed gave full power to Roger Goddell to hand down punishments, i don’t why this case ever ended up in court?

    Dosen’t matter everybody knows Brady, and the patriots are cheaters, and surely will chant cheater at every stadium he visits from now on!!!!!

    Hang tough Roger, keep the 4 Game suspension at all costs.

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