On the surface, the news from Adam Schefter of ESPN that the Patriots suspended John Jastremski and Jim McNally because the NFL requested the discipline makes plenty of sense. At a deeper level, the timing is curious — and it possibly becomes the first tangible evidence that winter is ending.
With the Patriots previously tight lipped on the topic of why they suspended their in-house equivalents of Beavis and Butthead, it’s fair to surmise that the news of the real reason for their suspension without pay was leaked to Schefter by the league. If so, it’s the first time throughout this saga that the league has leaked something that was favorable to the Patriots.
It started with someone from the league leaking to Chris Mortensen of ESPN the blatantly false news that 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were a full two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum at halftime of the AFC title game. That set the narrative of presumed tampering, and the league never corrected the misinformation until the Ted Wells report disclosed for the first time 13 days ago actual numbers that revealed: (1) dramatically conflicting pressure gauges; and (2) a set of readings that falls fully in line with the operation of the Ideal Gas Law. And it culminated Sunday night with someone from the league leaking to Ben Volin of the Boston Globe strong disagreement with the Patriots’ position that Wells didn’t have the right to re-interview witnesses based on evidence that previously had been lurking undetected in Wells’ files.
Now, the news being leaked is positive for the Patriots, since it explains why they suspended without pay two guys whom the Patriots believe did nothing wrong. It suggests that, as Schefter reported last night, the league and the team are trying to work out a compromise — and that this latest leak represents an olive branch.
Still, it’ll take more than olive branches for the league to find a solution to this mess that allows Ted Wells and Troy Vincent to save face, and that gives the Commissioner cover for what will appear to be cowering to Patriots owner Robert Kraft. For now, only the Patriots and their fans are complaining loudly about the proposed penalties; if/when the league backs off, plenty of other people will start complaining, too.