With Tom Brady’s suspension 50-percent complete and #DeflateGate only 120 minutes of clock time away from becoming irrelevant (but for the 2017 fourth-round pick that was forfeited), the company that performed scientific experiments and research that pointed to a finding of tampering with air pressure is speaking out, via a lengthy New York Times article that seems to take great pains to paint Exponent in a positive light.
The article links to, but never expressly mentions, a prior article from the Times that describes Exponent as a hired gun. The prior article points out that Exponent’s past work has included providing a scientific opinion that second-hand smoke doesn’t cause cancer. The latest article never mentions that fact.
Let me repeat that one. A long, exhaustive profile of Exponent by the New York Times fails to mention that the company once opined that second-hand cigarette smoke is not dangerous.
While the latest article creates the impression of balance by pointing to some of the criticisms, the latest article doesn’t give any serious credence to that criticism, allowing Exponent to reiterate largely unchallenged its view that the PSI measurements suggest that someone deliberately removed air from the footballs — even if the Exponent report carefully avoids directly saying that.
The latest Times article fails to point out two of the biggest problems with Exponent’s work in #DeflateGate: (1) the decision to reject referees Walt Anderson’s best recollection regarding which of two conflicting gauges were used to set the air pressure of the Patriots’ balls prior to kickoff; and (2) the reality that the combination of tampering plus the operation of the Ideal Gas Law would have resulted in much lower PSI measurements.
Tampering plus the operation of the Ideal Gas Law would have resulted in numbers closer to the false numbers that the league deliberately leaked in the early days of the scandal, leaked numbers so low that a presumption of cheating arose — along with a general belief that a multi-million-dollar investigation was needed to determine who was responsible for it.
The entire investigation continues to seem like an effort to find evidence to support a predetermined conclusion that the Patriots cheated. And because Exponent routinely provides litigation support to, for example, tobacco companies sued for the hazards of second-hand smoke, it’s fair to regard Exponent’s work not as the product of a truly neutral and dispassionate review of the facts but an effort to give Ted Wells and the NFL what they possibly were paying for: A finding that cheating happened.
Exponent not-so-subtly paints itself as a martyr for reaching the conclusion that cheating occurred. It claims to have lost prospective clients as a result of its findings, and it suggests that, if the findings had pointed to a scientific explanation, there would have been no criticism or notoriety.
“If we had the exact same report and would have said the pressures are explainable, you never would have heard anything about it,” John Pye of Exponent said. “The NFL would have said, ‘Oh, OK, and moved on.’ You wouldn’t have heard about Exponent, you wouldn’t have heard about John Pye, you wouldn’t have heard about all the things that happened from then.”
Baloney. A public report was coming, regardless of the outcome of Exponent’s work. We would have known about Exponent, we would have known about John Pye, and Exponent would have been accused by Patriots haters of getting it wrong by not finding that the team had cheated. Exponent would have lost prospective clients who believed that Exponent simply was trying to cover up cheating.
The biggest difference is that, if it’s true that the investigation began with the ending point in mind, Exponent would have been failing to give its client what its client wanted. Once a company that routinely engages in litigation support acquires that kind of a reputation, it’s going to lose a lot more of its clients.