Mum is the word in New England one day after the NFL released the findings of Ted Wells’ investigation into Deflategate.
Owner Robert Kraft issued a wordy statement Wednesday disagreeing with findings he deemed less-than-conclusive.
Wells found quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots’ equipment staff were all likely culpable in reducing the psi, mandated at 12.5 pounds, of 11 footballs in the AFC Championship game in January against the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts brought the issue to the attention of the league, sparking a four-month investigation.
Punishment is expected from the NFL, but whether the Patriots’ personnel will include Brady is uncertain.
Brady is not expected to offer public comment in a media setting but is scheduled for a Thursday appearance at Salem State University. The event is moderated by well-known hardball reporter Jim Gray, who has pressed the likes of Sammy Sosa and Pete Rose on touchy topics and might be inclined to do the same with Brady.
The Patriots do not have scheduled media availability until next week during rookie minicamp. Those players, of course, have no knowledge or experience with the team on game day.
Brady’s agent, Don Yee, said in a statement Thursday that the NFL used the Colts to perform a sting operation. This assertion is based on the Colts, per the Wells report, informing the NFL before the game of the deflation issue.
“It is a sad day for the league as it has abdicated the resolution of football-specific issues to people who don’t understand the context or culture of the sport. I was physically present for my client’s interview. I have verbatim notes of the interview,” Yee said, without making the comments available. “Tom made himself available for nearly an entire day and patiently answered every question. It was clear to me the investigators had limited understanding of professional football.
“For reasons unknown, the Wells report omitted nearly all of Tom’s testimony, most of which was critical because it would have provided this report with the context that it lacks. Mr. Wells promised back in January to share the results of this investigation publicly, so why not follow through and make public all of the information gathered and let the public draw its own conclusions? This report contains significant and tragic flaws, and it is common knowledge in the legal industry that reports like this generally are written for the benefit of the purchaser.”
Brady, locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski are the focus of any potential punishment.
Kraft made a scathing declaration on the day the Patriots arrived for the Super Bowl that his team, and specifically Brady and head coach Bill Belichick, would be cleared of any wrongdoing and warranted an apology from commissioner Roger Goodell. Kraft only slightly softened his stance Wednesday, blaming “atmospheric conditions” and the unique set of circumstances that led to the NFL conducting a first-ever “pressure check” at halftime of 11 of the 12 game balls used by the Patriots against the Colts.
The ball turned in by the Colts following a D’Qwell Jackson interception was not tested, according to Wells’ 243-page report.
That Brady did not willingly reveal conversations or text messages requested by Wells and his investigative team might be viewed as damning by Goodell, who said at the Super Bowl the integrity of the game was on the line in the investigation.