The Biggest Flaw In Deflategate Innocence

Earlier today the New England Patriots responded to the Wells Report that found the Patriots more likely than not were guilty of underinflating balls with a website called “The Wells Report In Context”. The Patriots make many strong arguments but they still cannot explain one thing: Why would they suspend two team employees if they were not guilty parties in Deflategate?

The NFL released a statement that went along with the release of the Wells Report which included information about the Patriots suspending the two employees implicated by the Wells Report.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft advised Commissioner Roger Goodell last week that Patriots employees John Jastremski and James McNally have been indefinitely suspended without pay by the club, effective on May 6th.

May 6th is the day of the release of the Wells Report, which means that Jastremski and McNally were suspended in response to the findings of the Wells Report. It’s of vital importance to note that Jastremski and McNally are not suspended by the NFL, but by the Patriots. If the Patriots believed Jastremski and McNally are innocent, why would they suspend them? It would make no sense for the Patriots to suspend the two employees who were implicated in the Wells Report if the Patriots didn’t think that they were guilty of conspiring with Brady to underinflate footballs.

The Patriots argue that the Wells Report “ignores the scientific explanation for the drop in psi” and “ignores obvious issues concerning gauge inconsistency”. This is a strong defense, however it is wrong. The Wells Report found that “[t]he four Colts balls tested each measured within the 12.5 to 13.5 psi range permitted under the Playing Rules on at least one of the gauges used for the tests” while “[a]ll eleven of the Patriots game balls tested measured below the minimum pressure level of 12.5 pounds per square inch (“psi”) allowed by Rule 2 of the Official Playing Rules of the National Football League (the “Playing Rules”) on both of two air pressure gauges used to test the balls.” For me, it’s hard to argue with that. The Patriots, however, will continue to argue and they actually make an interesting argument about Walt Anderson not being completely sure which gauge he used for the balls during pre-game and then taking halftime measurements with another gauge.

In conclusion I agree with the Patriots that the Wells Report was incomplete and that it lacked context, but I disagree with the Patriots saying that the findings of the Wells Report were incorrect based on the overwhelming circumstantial evidence found in the Wells Report and the suspension by the team of the two employees charged with deflating in the Wells Report after the Report was released. That said, the Patriots rebuttal today chips away at the credibility of Ted Wells’ investigation. I’m sure Wells will respond, which should allow for a better understanding of how legitimate the Patriots’ response to the Wells Report is. The one thing that cannot be argued is that the Patriots suspended McNally and Jastremski after the Wells Report was released, and that certainly looks like unintended admission of guilt. In the end I don’t think this is a big issue as it relates to the actual gameplay of football. Instead this is an issue of the compliance/potential cover-up of the Patriots.

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