On Friday, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen pulled the plug on a planned appearance on WEEI in Boston to discuss his #DeflateGate floodgates report that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs were two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum. As it turns out, Mortensen previously addressed the report on WEEI back in January, in an appearance with Lou Merloni and Christian Fauria.
Told about the PFT report from that same time frame that 10 of the 11 Patriots footballs were closer to one pound under the minimum than two pounds under it (which turned out to be accurate in light of the measurements first published by Ted Wells in May), Mortensen elaborated on his report.
“Listen, I went back . . . and I can’t go through too many of the steps I took because it wasn’t just a single source,” Mortensen said. “Even before that report came back that maybe they were one pound underneath because I agree maybe it’s a huge difference, but you know what I was told was, I said, ‘Listen,’ I said, ‘is there any discrepancies in what I reported, because I want to know.’ Because even on a small detail like that. And I was just told, ‘No, you were right on.'”
Mortensen then speculated that maybe the frame of reference was 13.5 PSI, and that the sources meant that the footballs were two pounds under that. And then he essentially said that it didn’t matter because of other things his sources told him.
“They said, ‘Use common sense,’ Mortensen said. ‘One team’s footballs, basically all of them were underinflated. The other team’s footballs — they like them on the low end, too, by the way, the Colts — were all within regulation. So all the scientific minutiae that’s been thrown at us, be careful about buying into it.”
So, basically, Mortensen was lied to by his sources on multiple occasions. In addition to being told when he double-checked that he was “right on,” he was told that the Colts footballs “were all within regulation.” The truth, as demonstrated by the Ted Wells report, is that only four Colts footballs were tested — and on one of the gauges used three of the four balls were under 12.5 PSI.
Moreover, the Colts footballs didn’t start on the low end of the 12.5 to 13.5 PSI range, but right in the middle, at 13.0 or 13.1 PSI. But that’s not what Mortensen’s sources told him.
“I was told they prefer theirs at the lower level, too,” Mortensen said. Which means that his sources wanted him to believe the footballs started at the same point, and that only the Patriots dropped while exposed to cold, wet conditions. Which we now know is completely, you know, not true.
Moreover, the four (not 12, but only four) Colts footballs that were tested sat inside the warmer atmosphere of the locker room, readjusting to those conditions as the Patriots footballs were tested twice and then refilled to 13.0 PSI.
If anything, Mort’s January appearance on WEEI shows that he wasn’t lied to by one person on one occasion, but by multiple people on multiple occasions, regarding key facts beyond the notion that the Patriots footballs were two pounds under the minimum. It’s also now obvious that his sources were within the league office; who else would be lobbying Mort to “use common sense” by comparing the false information that was being provided to him about the Patriots footballs with false information that was being provided to him about the Colts footballs?
Mortensen then was asked if Patriots coach Bill Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft sounded off in the days preceding the Super Bowl because they were irritated by the publication of misinformation. Mortensen bristled at the implication.
“You’re saying that they’re telling the truth and we’re disseminating misinformation,” Mortensen said.
It’s now clear that ESPN, through multiple league-office sources, was indeed disseminating misinformation. And ESPN still has not adequately answered for that, beyond Adam Schefter’s recent suggestion that Mort was indeed lied to by multiple high-level sources.