During Wednesday’s press conference that ended the quarterly ownership meeting in San Francisco, Tom Curran of CSN New England asked Commissioner Roger Goodell a pointed question regarding media leaks by the league during the #DeflateGate investigation.
In response, Goodell referred generally to the report generated by Ted Wells. When Curran followed with a specific question about the league’s leak of the false information that 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum, Goodell said that Ted Wells “had the opportunity to evaluate that.”
While Wells may have had the opportunity to evaluate whether the NFL deliberately leaked false PSI data, possibly to create an opening narrative of presumed tampering that would trigger a scorched-earth investigation of the Patriots, Wells didn’t address the topic at all in his report.
As noted by Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, Wells devoted only one paragraph to the notion that the investigation arose in whole or in part from an agenda against the Patriots. The 243-page document says nothing about whether Wells explored the leak of false information — a leak that likely led directly to the decision to bring in Wells for another multi-million-dollar probe.
Frankly, it’s a bit ironic that anyone from ESPN would demand transparency regarding the false information disseminated by the league, given that ESPN was the media company that accepted the false information as true and published it. In the 15 days since it became clear that the information given to Chris Mortensen was false, ESPN has said nothing about its role in fueling the early days of the #DeflateGate frenzy.
Either Mortensen was flat wrong or he was lied to. If it was the former, the NFL should have corrected the information quickly and aggressively. Instead, the true PSI numbers remained hidden from view until the Wells report was released.
On one hand, it’s important for a reporter to protect his sources. On the other hand, the rules should change when the reporter has been flat-out lied to. And if the NFL isn’t going to shed light on what actually happened back in January regarding the false PSI data, ESPN shouldn’t simply point out the NFL’s silence; ESPN should end its own.