Judge Richard M. Berman has told the NFL and the NFLPA to tone it down regarding the Tom Brady case. That directive apparently doesn’t apply to the Patriots.
The website created by the team in response to the 243-pages-and-nearly-as-many-flaws Ted Wells report has added a new story. It’s dubbed, “League failure to correct misinformation.”
The item consists of a chain of emails between Patriots general counsel Robyn Glaser and NFL general counsel Jeff Pash. The Patriots explain that it is “presented to illustrate the attempts by the Patriots to ask the NFL to correct initial misinformation being reported by the media and to investigate sources of such misinformation, which could only have been league personnel.”
The communications in question began on February 17, when ESPN’s Kelly Naqi reported that the Patriots tried to introduce an unapproved kicking ball into the AFC title game against the Colts. (PFT later reported what actually occurred.) The report from Naqi also contradicted, to a certain extent, the original report from Mortensen.
Patriots spokesman Stacey James complained to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello that “we have ANOTHER leak . . . resulting in a report providing details that no one else would possibly have in a story that tries to implicate a day of game employee.” James also mentioned in his email the NFL’s ongoing refusal to release the accurate PSI measurements, despite the original ESPN report that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs were two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum.
“I cannot comprehend how withholding the range of PSIs measured in the game is beneficial to the NFL or the Patriots,” James wrote. “I can only assume, based on the scientific evidence that has been provided to us by multiple independent scientists that the PSI numbers will be within the scientific range. If we had been provided this data within days of the original report, we could have changed the narrative of this story before it led all national news and the damage was done. It has been over 4 weeks and we still can’t get a simple detail that I assume was available the night of the AFC Championship Game!”
The next morning, Glaser forwarded the Stacey James email to Pash, reiterating the team’s earlier request that “the scope of Ted Wells’ independent investigation be expanded to include a review of actions by League personnel.” Glaser said that Pash had promised to “consult with the Commissioner” about the request, but that Pash never responded after that.
Pash replied within 30 minutes, saying that “I have no reason to think [the latest ESPN story] came from our office but I certainly do not condone leaks which I do not serve [sic] anyone’s interest.”
Glaser argued in response that “the leaks would only come from the League office as it would not serve anyone else’s purpose” and urging Pash “to bring your staff and office under control.”
“We have cooperated fully and expediently with Attorney Wells and are now seriously starting to question whether we should do that while our public image and brand continues to be unnecessarily and irreparably tarnished by the League,” Glaser wrote.
Pash later told Glaser that he has “doubts that piecemeal disclosures are likely to accomplish much,” and that “[i]f anything, I would think they are likely to prompt additional questions, additional stories, and additional irresponsible speculation and commentary.”
And then Glaser had enough.
After calling Pash’s responses “pretty disingenuous,” Glaser explained that “if the League is disclosing information that is correcting inaccuracies and misinformation that are currently are hammering away at our brand, we WELCOME the additional stories and commentary.”
“Jeff, you need to step up,” Glaser wrote. “I can’t tell you the number of times you’ve told me that you and your office work for us member clubs. It has been made resoundingly clear to us that your words are just a front. They have no substance at all. If you worked for us, you would already have released today a statement to the effect of, [‘]ESPN, you’ve got it wrong. You do not have full information, you are irresponsibly reporting information that is untrue and you need to stop. Furthermore, as you now know and report reporting yourselves, your original story that 11 of 12 balls were 2 pounds below the minimum allowable psi was just blatantly wrong, we know that because we have the information and here it is…[‘]
“I would appreciate it if you would please tell me everything you are doing, and will continue to do, to stop leaks from occurring. This is information we do not have. We know of not one thing you are doing internally to investigate the sources of the leaks and/or to curtail them. We do know that the one thing we’ve asked you to do — include the League leaks as part of the scope of the Wells investigation — has been rejected by you. So do you blame us for wondering just what the heck you mean when you said, ‘I will continue to do what I can to stop leaks from occurring’?”
The last message in the chain comes from Pash, who called Glaser’s message “personal and accusatory.” He also declined to provide a point-by-point reply, acknowledging that he works for all teams, not just the Patriots.
“Sometimes that creates tension, as it apparently has here,” Pash said.
Still, the messages make it obvious that the Patriots repeatedly asked the NFL to direct Wells to explore the leaks as part of his investigation, and that the NFL refused to do so.
That directly contradicts comments from Commissioner Roger Goodell at a press conference in May. Pressed by Tom Curran of CSNNE.com on whether Ted Wells was asked to investigate leaks (including the original 11-of-12-balls debacle), Goodell said that Ted Wells “had the opportunity to evaluate that.”
Apparently, he didn’t. But that doesn’t make it too late for Wells or someone else to make another million or so finding out who in the league office turned #DeflateGate from an act of gamesmanship at worst into the crime of the century, all by leaking blatantly false information to Chris Mortensen of ESPN.