On Monday, NFL executive V.P. of football operations Troy Vincent said the league “hasn’t heard” from the Patriots regarding the reinstatement of John Jastremski and Jim McNally, the two employees suspended indefinitely after the Ted Wells report emerged in May. On Tuesday, the league confirmed that the Patriots have not made that request.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Patriots have indeed asked for the employees to be reinstated.
The request was made on or before late Monday afternoon. It definitely was made before Tuesday; it possibly was made before Vincent said the league hadn’t heard from the Patriots.
It’s also possible that the people who have said the request wasn’t made weren’t told that a request had been made. Either way, the request has been made.
Jastremski and McNally became critical figures in the case due to text messages they exchanged in the weeks and months prior to the January 2015 AFC Championship Game. With McNally calling himself “the deflator” and other messages suggesting that McNally may have been letting air out of footballs in exchange for shoes and signed memorabilia, Wells made assumptions about their activities without getting either to confess to anything.
Of course, the inability to get a confession from McNally could be a result of the failure of Wells and his team to notice the most potentially damning text message while preparing for the official McNally interview as part of the investigation. The Patriots then refused to make McNally available a second time, to answer questions about the text messages that Wells had before the prior interview.
It’s also possible that McNally made no confession because there was nothing to confess.
Regardless, the facts and circumstances cry out for something more from these two men, which makes the failure to put them under oath at the Tom Brady appeal hearing even more inexplicable.
The NFL Players Association didn’t call either guy to testify, ostensibly because their testimony had no impact on the major arguments advanced on Brady’s behalf — that the NFL couldn’t suspend him for the conduct for which he was accused. But the NFL, in a case presented by Lorin Reisner, a member of the very investigative team that wanted to question McNally again but couldn’t, chose not to ask Goodell to command their attendance but instead to play “gotcha” with the NFLPA’s position that they didn’t need to testify.
Most surprisingly, the man presiding over the appeal hearing lacked the natural curiosity to hear their stories and to observe their demeanor. Here’s what Roger Goodell told ESPN Radio on Tuesday: “I asked both parties towards the end of the hearing whether I should hear from them directly. Both parties, well particularly, the union side, said it was not necessary. They didn’t feel it was a necessary step and the Management Council side said we think we have sufficient information, but the fact that the union doesn’t want you to hear from them should be taken into account. I think they are important figures in this but chose not to go any further with it at that point.”
Goodell never explained why he chose not to go any further at that point. And there’s no good explanation for it. Jasmtremski and McNally traded the text messages that became the hard evidence from which major assumptions were drawn regarding the existence of a scheme to deflate footballs. Neither testified under oath. McNally was never questioned in any setting by the NFL or its investigators regarding the “deflator” text.
In a case that features plenty of bad decisions from everyone involved, the decision of the arbitrator not to require Jastremski and McNally to testify at the Brady appeal hearing sits at the very top of the list.