With the New England Patriots organization prepping for the NFL Draft on Thursday, rumors around the supposedly upcoming "Deflategate" report from investigator Ted Wells continue to haunt the Super Bowl champions. And chief among those rumors — when will the report actually be issued?
Deflategate, of course, started with the allegation that the Patriots somehow deliberately let the air out of 11 of the 12 official game footballs, presumably to make the balls easier to grip. But apart from a flurry of unsubstantiated, anonymous press leaks and rumors, no actual evidence has been made public to support the Deflategate claims.
But if Wells has actually found any evidence one way or the other, he is keeping it close to the vest as this week will mark 100 days since the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts when the alleged ball-deflation was claimed to have occurred.
About a month ago, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said that expected the Wells investigation was "near the end." But he must have been employing a loose definition on "near" because when was again asked on Friday when the Deflategate report would be delivered, he told reporters that he had "nothing new to report" and that Wells and his team were still operating without a deadline.
The Deflategate investigation has now taken longer than the trial of former New England Patriots star Aaron Hernandez, who was convicted of first-degree murder after 95 days. The probe has also far surpassed the lengthy trial of Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger, who stood trial for 61 days.
Needless to say, the press, as well as Patriots fans – and NFL fans in general — are getting antsy, especially with no explanation for why the investigation has taken such an exceedingly long time. On Tuesday, CNN reported that it had attempted to contact Wells to get an explanation from the chief investigator himself, but Wells ignored the request.
The Patriots and their coach, Bill Belichick, have steadfastly denied tampering with the footballs used in the AFC title game, or committing any wrongdoing at all in connection with football air pressure levels.
If the NFL were to finally release the report this week, on the eve the draft, the timing could serve to distract from the report itself, which based on the flimsy and often self-contradictory information about Deflategate that has leaked out so far, appears likely to contain nothing of substance to indict the New England Patriots, which is sure to spark outrage on the part of Patriots-haters throughout the NFL.
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