The New England Patriots on Friday released a series of emails from February of this year which show the team pleading with the NFL to stop a series of leaks to the ESPN network — leaks that contained blatantly false information apparently designed to portray the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady as villains in the Deflategate scandal.
But the league simply stonewalled the Patriots’ requests for the leaks to be corrected. The email exchanges can be viewed at this link.
Also on Friday, the source of the single most important leak — the leak that many experts agree is more responsible for the ongoing scandal than any other piece of information — was reportedly unmasked as NFL official Mike Kensil, a longtime top executive with the Patriots’ arch-rival, the New York Jets. In fact, not only was Kensil the Jets Director of Operations for two decades, his father was president of the franchise for 11 years as well.
— CSNNE.com (@CSNNE) July 31, 2015
On January 20, just two days after the AFC Championship game — the game in which the Patriots are accused by the league of using deliberately underinflated footballs — ESPN’s Chris Mortensen posted a Twitter message, followed by a story on the ESPN.com site, stating that 11 of the 12 footballs used by the Patriots were deflated to the point where they were a full two pounds under NFL regulation requirements.
That story turned out to be false, disproven by the NFL’s own investigation carried out by attorney Ted Wells. But Wells used ball pressure figures that had been available to the NFL since the January 18 game.
In other words, the NFL knew at the time Mortensen’s story was published that it contained false information. But that false information was the basis for what quickly became the national front-page “Deflategate” story. The NFL refused to correct the “11 out of 12 balls” story, and Mortensen never retracted it.
Mortensen’s anonymous source for that story, according to Friday’s reports by WEEI Radio in Boston, was Mike Kensil.
According to reports that surfaced in May, Kensil was on the sidelines during the AFC Championship Game, when he approached a Patriots equipment manager and triumphantly declared, “We weighed the balls. You are in big f*****g trouble!”
WEEI was scheduled to interview Mortensen on Friday morning to seek his explanation for the erroneous and damaging story — but Mortensen backed out of the interview late Thursday night, claiming that he did not want to become the “centerpiece” of the Deflategate story.
Finally, separate reports have suggested that the source for this week’s leak to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, revealing that Brady “destroyed his cell phone,” was in fact another top NFL official, Troy Vincent.
The pattern of false or otherwise damaging leaks reportedly originating from the NFL office together with NFL’s refusal to issue any corrections to those leaks, or do anything about them at all, present a pattern that, to many observers, suggest that the Deflategate scandal originated not with any actions taken by Brady or the New England Patriots, but from inside the NFL office itself.
[Image: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]