Saturday marks the three-month anniversary of the AFC title game, which sparked the #DeflateGate scandal. And there’s still no resolution to the question of whether the Patriots used footballs that became accidentally or deliberately underinflated.
Upon hiring Ted Wells to participate in the investigation, the NFL placed no timetable upon the project. His prior effort on behalf of the NFL (the Dolphins bullying scandal) resulted in a full report roughly 3.5 months after Jonathan Martin left the team. And that appeared to be a much more complicated situation.
It’s unclear why Wells hasn’t finished his work yet in this specific case. As a reader has pointed out, it’s unlikely that Wells will release his report before next Thursday, when the Patriots visit the White House to celebrate their latest Super Bowl win. Even if the report fully and completely exonerates the Patriots, putting the issue back on the front burner as the Patriots prepare to hang out in the Rose Garden with the Commander-in-Chief would add a degree of awkwardness that neither the NFL nor the administration would appreciate.
If the report will be issued before the draft, that leaves a fairly narrow window for getting it done, assuming the penalty will include the removal of 2015 draft picks. Even if it doesn’t, the Patriots need to know whether they’ll have their full complement of picks as they finalize their plans for the draft. At some point, they’ll have to just assume they do — unless and until they find out that they don’t.