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.