Ted Wells says that both the Patriots as a franchise and Tom Brady as an individual cooperated with his Deflategate investigation — but with a major omission in both respects.
With the Patriots, Wells says, refusing to make employee Jim McNally available for a second interview was frustrating.
“The Patriots provided me, in my opinion, with substantial cooperation except in one critical and crucial area: I wanted to do a second interview with Jim McNally. Jim McNally was the second Patriots person I interviewed. I wanted, after I interviewed others including Tom Brady, to do a second interview of McNally, to put other questions to him,” Wells said.
Wells said he was struck by a text message in which McNally called himself “The Deflator” and wanted to ask him about that. But the Patriots refused to put him in touch with McNally for a follow-up.
“I asked for a second interview, I said I would go to New Hampshire, I would interview him in the morning, afternoon night, I would do it whenever he was free. And they said not only could I not interview him, they wouldn’t even tell him of my request for an interview,” Wells said.
Wells said that contrary to reports that McNally talked to him four times and only refused for a fifth interview, Wells actually only wanted to talk to McNally twice.
“NFL security people talked to McNally on three occasions,” Wells said. “They talked to him on the night of the game for approximately 40 minutes, they talked to him the next morning by telephone for about 20 minutes, they talked to him in person I believe the next day for about 30 minutes. Those are three interviews. The Patriots urged me when I got to the case to start fresh, not to pay any attention to what NFL security had done. In fact they thought the people at NFL Security were biased. They applauded when I said I wanted to start fresh. And for them to later say I couldn’t have a second interview with the most important person in the case was a lack of cooperation.”
Wells also said that although Brady answered all of his questions in an interview, Brady refused to hand over electronic communications that would have helped in the Deflategate investigation.
“Mr. Brady, the report sets forth, he came to the interview, he answered every question, he did not refuse to answer any questions in terms of the back and forth between Mr. Brady and my team — he was totally cooperative,” Wells said. “At the same time, he refused to permit us to review electronic data from his telephone or other instruments. Most of the key evidence in this case as in most cases comes from people’s cell phones and he refused to let us review the phone. And I want to be crystal clear, I told Mr. Brady and his agents I was willing to not take possession of the phone, I don’t want to see any private communications, I said, ‘You keep the phone, you give me documents that are responsive to this investigation and I will take your word for it’ and they still refused.”
In the case of Brady, the NFL seems particularly troubled that he didn’t fully cooperate with the investigation, suggesting that the cover-up may have been worse than the crime.