To no surprise, the 274-page report generated by Ted Wells contains plenty of information. And that information includes some bad information that initially was given to the Patriots.
At page 100 of the report, Wells explains that the January 19 letter from NFL senior V.P. David Gardi to Patriots owner Robert Kraft provided two inaccurate facts to the Patriots.
“The inspection, which involved each ball being inspected twice with different gauges, revealed that none of the Patriots’ game balls were inflated to the specifications required under Rule 2, Section 1,” Gardi wrote. “In fact, one of the game balls was inflated to 10.1 psi, far below the requirement of 12-1/2 to 13-1⁄2 psi. In contrast, each of the Colts’ game balls that was inspected met the requirements set forth above.”
The Wells report notes that not a single measurement of any of the New England footballs reflected a PSI reading of 10.1. In fact, only one measurement of one football was as low as 10.5 PSI.
The Wells report also points out that Gardi’s comments about the Colts’ game balls was not accurate. On one of the two gauges used to test the footballs, THREE of the four Colts balls tested were UNDER the limit of 12.5 PSI.
The Wells report essentially shrugs at these arguably significant misstatements of fact, pointing out that Gardi wasn’t personally at the game (they why did he write the letter?) and that the mistakes were “inadvertent.”
But the errors speak to a potential degree of zeal and desire by some in the league office to catch the Patriots in the act. While the Wells report separately concludes that there was no evidence of bias against the Patriots, two clear and obvious misstatements in the first communication on the situation regarding facts that go to the heart of the case — the air pressure in Patriots footballs and the air pressure in Colts footballs — should at least spark healthy curiosity that someone was out to get the Patriots.
Coupled with the fact that multiple league officials knew about the suspicions and that none of them warned the Patriots or relayed the information to someone who possibly would (such as, you know, Commissioner Roger Goodell), it’s hard not to wonder whether one or more people were more concerned about catching the Patriots than dotting all i’s, crossing all t’s, and ultimately acting in the broader best interests of the NFL.
None of this exonerates the Patriots, if as Wells concluded a violation occurred. But if that conclusion arose from a process that involved one or more people who weren’t as concerned about getting it right as they were about getting the Patriots, that’s a problem.