Tom Brady’s agent Don Yee made it clear last week that he shouldn’t be talking. Earlier today, the Patriots made it clear that, specifically as to the notion that game-day employee Jim McNally called himself the “Deflator” because he was trying to lose weight, they shouldn’t be talking. Tonight, investigator Ted Wells made it clear that he, too, shouldn’t be talking.
Via Bart Hubbuch of the New York Post, Wells addressed the contention from the team’s WellsReportContext.com website that Wells had in his possession all relevant text messages before Wells questioned McNally the first time. Which means that a follow-up interview wasn’t necessary, because it wasn’t based on any new evidence or developments.
Wells explained to Hubbuch that, because the message in which McNally calls himself the “Deflator” was sent in May 2014, Wells hadn’t noticed it before questioning McNally the first time, since Wells had gone through only the text messages from the 2014 football season at that point.
Apart from the question of whether Wells or someone from his team should have churned the billable hours to review all text messages before interviewing McNally (and they should have), Wells’ explanation contradicts his own report.
At page 87, Wells quotes a text message from November 2014 in which McNally said, “Deflate and give somebody that [jacket].” Wells then explains in the report, “We planned to discuss this message with McNally during our requested follow-up interview. As noted above, we were unable to do so because counsel for the Patriots refused to make McNally available.”
In other words, Wells’ comments to Hubbuch are not factually accurate. Wells now says didn’t notice the May 2014 “Deflator” text message because he had reviewed only the text messages sent during the 2014 football season, and yet the Wells report expressly states that he wanted to question McNally a second time about one of the text messages sent during the 2014 football season.
And so, basically, pretty much everyone connected to this case now has significant credibility problems. Which means that the best outcome may have been (and may still be) for the league to admit that it created this mess by having inadequate football inflation and security procedures, by possessing inferior knowledge of the science of football deflation, and by paying insufficient attention to the reality that, in cold weather games, footballs routinely have an internal pressure below 12.5 PSI. The league should simply have changed the procedures, warned all teams that any efforts to circumvent those procedures in the future would be met with harsh punishment, and not attempted to punish any of the many teams that may have taken advantage of what ultimately was proven to be incomplete and borderline inept enforcement of Rule 2, which seemingly requires the football at all times to be between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI, regardless of the weather conditions.
But since Commissioner Roger Goodell sees most if not all disciplinary issues in black and white, he surely learned nothing from the not-so-subtle rebuke that his predecessor, Paul Tagliabue, provided in the bounty scandal, when Tagliabue demonstrated how a Commissioner should go about presiding over a change in NFL culture. The NFL’s culture regarding football inflation definitely will change, but it’s happening only after it makes an example of one team that, based on the scientific evidence, may not have actually tampered with the footballs prior to the AFC title game.