The so-called “Deflategate” report is out, from the NFL’s independent investigator Ted Wells, and though Wells reached conclusions that were by any standard flimsy — stating only it was “more probable than not” that two New England Patriots employees let air of game footballs, and that superstar quarterback Tom Brady “was at least generally aware” of what was going on — the national media has rendered its verdict in far more definitive terms.
“Tom Brady Cheated His Way To A Super Bowl,” screamed a headline on the USA Today For The Win site.
“Why did Belichick cheat? Ask him, or go with this: Because he’s a cheater,” wrote Indianpolis Star sportswriter Gregg Doyel. “Seven years later, the Patriots cheated the Colts — well, it is more than probable that they did — and I’ll be a son of a …”
But what the media is not reporting, at least not with nearly the same fervor and volume that it has been reporting the “Tom Brady Cheated” story, is that contrary to Doyel, the Ted Wells report specifically exonerates Belichick, the Patriots coach, as well as the team’s owner, Robert Kraft.
Indeed, every single person in the Patriots organization — with the exceptions of Brady and the two employees, on of them a part-timer — comes up clean, according to the Wells Deflategate report.
The Deflategate report never actually alleges that a conspiracy existed among Brady and the two part-timers, or even that a conspiracy “probably” existed. Wells says only that such a scheme to deflate footballs was “more probable than not.”
Wells never states how much more probable than not he believes the conspiracy to be, while his main evidence consists of text messages between the two employees that may or may not appear to make oblique references to deflating footballs.
One of those employees, James McNally, told Wells that the text messages were “jokes,” and WEEI Patriots beat writer Christopher Price notes that “the duo sounds bitter in the wake of an incident earlier in the season when, following New England’s 27-25 win over the Jets in Week 7, the report stated Brady ‘complained angrily’ about the inflation levels of the footballs.”
In fact, the very text messages that Wells cites as his evidence that it is “more probable than not” that the two employees deflated footballs for Brady, also contain messages in which one of the employees repeatedly declares, “F*** Tom.”
Wells also claims that Brady refused to turn over his cell phone to the Deflategate investigators, “even though those requests were limited to the subject matter of our investigation.”
But the report does not mention the numerous leaks of information from someone inside the investigation, or with access to it, to the media during the initial stages of “Deflategate.” Brady may have simply distrusted the investigators ability to keep the contents of his private text and email messages private, a possibility the report does not explore.
Read the entire Ted Wells Deflategate report at this link.
[Image: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]