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Brady appeals suspension as Patriots double down

Brady appeals suspension as Patriots double down

“The Wells Report in Context” as a solid defense?

Earlier this week we reported on the NFL’s verdict in the “deflategate” scandal involving the Indianapolis Colts, the New England Patriots, and a sack of deflated footballs. Following an investigation, the Patriots were fined $1 million and lost their first round draft pick for 2016 and fourth round pick for 2017. Additionally, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games of the 2016-2017 season, and locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski were both suspended without pay, and cannot return to their jobs without the permission of the NFL.

The punishments were rendered based on the contents of the now-famous “Wells report”, which was issued last week and revealed the results of an independent investigation into the footballs used in this year’s AFC Championship game.

Brady today announced that he is appealing the suspension, and the Patriots issued a blow-by-blow response to the Wells report. “The Wells Report in Context” asserts that the findings of the Wells report are “at best, incomplete, incorrect and lack context,” and seeks to “provide additional context for balance and consideration.”

From the New York Times:

The Patriots’ rebuttal says that the N.F.L. prejudged the matter before hiring Wells to do the investigation and that Wells, knowing who paid his bills, essentially tailored his report to fit those prejudged conclusions. At times, the Patriots’ report reads like a counter-plea to a judge or jury, using a higher standard of evidence than that used by Wells, and it could serve as a prelude to a lawsuit.

It questions why the Wells report does not address potential wrongdoing by the league and by the Indianapolis Colts. It seeks to dismiss most of the evidence Wells produced as speculation derived from misinterpretation of facts, and denies, through its own evidence, the very premise that the footballs were underinflated by design.

The Patriots were accused by the Colts of using underinflated footballs in their A.F.C. championship encounter on Jan. 18 at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass. The N.F.L., after doing a preliminary investigation that was sloppy, according to the Patriots and the Wells report, then hired Wells to conduct an independent investigation.

The Patriots note in their rebuttal that Wells cannot be considered neutral since he does extensive business with the league.

The Indianapolis Colts have remained quiet regarding the punishments and resulting appeals. Colts tight end Dwayne Allen spoke briefly about Brady’s appeal, but declined to comment on the investigation itself:

“I had no idea what judgment was going to come down,” Allen said when asked about Brady’s four-game suspension. “As an NFL player rep for my team, we have guys that are going to help him through the appeal process and, again, whatever is just will be just.”

That’s about as much as anybody in Indy’s organization has said since the Wells report implicated Brady and two Patriots employees for deliberating underinflating game balls in January’s AFC championship game — a 45-7 blowout of the Colts in Foxboro.

General manager Ryan Grigson, who tipped off the NFL about the Patriots using illegal game balls, still has not spoken publicly about the investigation or the punishments announced Monday. In addition to Brady’s suspension, the Patriots were fined $1 million and will have to give up a first-round pick next year and a fourth-round pick in 2017.

While Patriots owner Robert Kraft has been outspoken that the penalties were too harsh, the Colts have mostly remained silent.

We’ll post updates on the deflategate scandal as they become available.


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We have a (The?) premier quarterback who should know by experience that the feel of the balls is indicative of under-inflation. Then the statistics on decreased fumbling for the Patriots that is also beyond probability. This smacks of systemic underhandedness. I think the Patriots are the “new” Oakland Raiders…..”just win baby!!!”

    DanJ1 in reply to alaskabob. | May 15, 2015 at 11:39 am

    The referees have a chance before the game to inspect the balls. In addition, I would like to see somebody review the tapes from the game and count the number of times a ref touched the Patriots’ balls. Remember, the ball boy hands the ball to a line ref who tosses it to another ref who hands it off to the center ref who places it on the line. So on each and every offensive play a ref has a chance to feel the balls two or three times before Brady ever touches one. Are those referees any less qualified to judge the inflation of a football than Brady? I bet that upon review of the tapes, you’ll find occasions when the refs squeeze the balls since they were certainly hard due to the weather. It’s just natural to want to warm them up. Yes, Brady would have known that his balls were soft, but is it his responsibility to call it to the refs’ attention?

Sammy Finkelman | May 14, 2015 at 8:43 pm

The Patriots are probably covering this up becauise it was a big conspiracy.

The penalty actually saves them money, (unless maybe it keeps them out of the playoffs) because the saving on Tom Brady’s salary far exceeds the financial penalty on the Patriots themselves.

Can they subpoena his phone as part of discovery?

Brady was uncooperative with the Wells investigation… I think that alone makes it impossible for him to win an appeal, or should. Of COURSE the report was “incomplete, incorrect and lack(s) context”… as a direct result of Brady’s unwillingness to provide his testimony.

I don’t like the idea that they punished Brady because he was “most probably aware” of the wrongdoing… I think they should have made a FINDING that he was most probably aware… but then they should have punished him for failing to provide testimony. This isn’t a Criminal Court; this is a venue agreed upon by contract. Different rules, different results… but I have no problem with him being punished for not cooperating.

    platypus in reply to MrMichael. | May 14, 2015 at 9:12 pm

    You have a point about the private nature of the relationship. So if there was a dispute, should it not go to arbitration? Instead they released their report as if it meant something substantive and then dropped the hammer on Brady.

    If I was Brady, I would not have appealed. Those who believe he deserves to be hammered aren’t going to change and those that think he walks on water aren’t going to change either. So win lose or draw, he can’t improve his position.

      dystopia in reply to platypus. | May 15, 2015 at 8:37 am

      Brady’s “rights” are whatever is provided for in his contract and the collective bargaining agreement with the players association. Unless a lawyer can reasonably plead a violation of State of Federal law, the Courts will generally abstain from further review.

      Now of course it is Tom Brady and the Patriots. If you go before an elected judge in Boston anything is possible.

      legalbeagle in reply to platypus. | May 15, 2015 at 8:52 am

      Why did Mr. McNally threaten to inflate the game balls like a watermelon after he felt Brady was disrespectful to him?McNally’s job was to watch over the game balls after they were selected and inflated, not alter the inflation levels. Why did a Patriot equipment person supply him with a needle used two alter the air pressure in the footballs?

    FreshPondIndians in reply to MrMichael. | May 14, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    Tom Brady spoke with investigators for over six hours, so I don’t know where you’re getting that he “failed to provide testimony”

    “Herald: When you say a full day, how long was Brady interviewed?
    Yee: “I believe it was about 5 ½ hours maybe. It was a substantial period of time. I can’t recall exactly, but it was a full day.”

      MrMichael in reply to FreshPondIndians. | May 14, 2015 at 10:26 pm

      From Legal Insurrections initial coverage:

      “According to Yahoo Sports, the NFL handed down the unprecedented punishments, “for violating playing rules and not cooperating fully in the investigation.”

        Barry in reply to MrMichael. | May 14, 2015 at 10:54 pm

        Well, if the NFL says it, it must be true

        MouseTheLuckyDog in reply to MrMichael. | May 14, 2015 at 11:11 pm

        He was not cooperative by refusing to hand over his phone, which he uses in part for union activities ( he is a union rep ) to the lawyers representing the ownership. Wow. I’m underimpressed.

    DaveGinOly in reply to MrMichael. | May 15, 2015 at 2:42 pm

    Brady was not uncooperative. He was interviewed and answered questions. He didn’t turn over his phone? The phones of the ball-handling employees were turned over – if Brady had had phone contact with either of them, their phones would have shown that (and didn’t). Brady was under no obligation to turn over his private phone to investigators. Retaining your rights in any investigation is not “being uncooperative,” it’s called being smart.

NC Mountain Girl | May 14, 2015 at 10:51 pm

I simply don’t trust Roger Goodell and the NFL. I suspect the administration has said play ball with our SJW agenda or not only will be come down on that nice football league you have, there are all those nice outside businesses all your owners have, too.

Consider that during Adrian Peterson’s disciplinary actions it came out that an NFL executive had advised him that if he agreed to a suspension with pay while awaiting adjudication of his child abuse case any suspension would be limited to the games he already missed if he wasn’t convicted of a felony. In other words, Peterson would simply forfeit his pay for the games he had already missed. Peterson entered a plea of no contest to misdemeanor charges only to have the NFL suspend him for the rest of the season. Then, on the day of Peterson’s hearing to have the suspension overturned the NFL executive who had made those promises wasn’t available to testify. He was instead appearing before a lame duck Senate Commerce committee hearing at which he told the Democrats they would like the new NFL policy on domestic abuse.

The NFLPA was very unhappy. Nor is it likely any player in the future will agree to sit out for the good of the game is league promises can’t be relied on.

Needless to say the NFLPA was not happy. Nor is it likely that any player in the future will agree to sit while his case is pending.

    clintack in reply to NC Mountain Girl. | May 15, 2015 at 9:36 am

    I fully expect this next football season to be the one in which a *false* accusation of some sort of abuse is leveled at a star player in order to remove him from a key game.

    Fans are nuts already, and false rape accusations seem to be in fashion this year.

      clintack in reply to clintack. | May 15, 2015 at 10:11 am

      To be clear, my point is: Suspension on accusation is a *terrible* idea (like high bail for lesser crimes), both because it punishes the innocent horribly when it might be a year or more before trial, and because it creates perverse incentives to lie.

      In my imagination, the false accusation leads to an “I am Spartacus” press conferece, where the whole offensive line of the accused’s team make increasingly implausible accusations against the whole team they’re getting ready to play against. One lineman would burst out with “I too am Spartacus.” The press conference would finish with the head coach, tears in his eyes, claiming to have been gang raped on a glass table by the whole starting special teams unit and all their kickers.

      Would never happen, of course.

The actual factual evidence in this case is:

There is no, zero, certainty that the balls were tampered with or that the balls were below 12.5 psi as measured by the gauge in use at the start of the game.

There is no, zero, evidence that Brady requested the balls pressure be reduced below the minimum or that the handlers did so.

Brady may be a cheat, I have no clue. But this ridiculous investigation started with the conclusion and worked its way back. And failed to show anything.

If the pressure of the football was important to the NFL, then one would think they would have a standard gauge to be used at all events and for both teams sets of balls. The fact that the NFL has no such standard and does not require a particular gauge (the refs can bring their own, and do!) tells one everything needed here.

    dystopia in reply to Barry. | May 15, 2015 at 8:42 am

    Did you read the Wells report?

    Out of curiosity, why do you think Steve McNally, the Patriots official responsible for bringing the game balls onto the field referred to himself in text messages as the deflator.

    Do you think Exponent engineering’s conclusion that the loss of air pressure in the balls could not be explained by game conditions is wrong? If so, why?

      Barry in reply to dystopia. | May 15, 2015 at 10:50 am

      I read the pertinent parts, having no interest in the BS on display.

      Yes, their “explanation” is wrong.

      First fact: the pressure measurement devices in use that day (2) varied significantly from each other by 50% of the pressure inflation range.

      2nd fact: Neither gauge was tested prior to the game to any standard.

      3rd fact: The “investigators” ignored the statement by the ref as to which gauge he used pregame and decided he used the other one. There is no evidence this is correct, but it fits their “theory” better.

      4th fact: there are no records regarding what pressure gauge is used.

      5th fact: the NFL has NO standard for pressure gauges for this so important metric. The refs are allowed to use any gauge and many bring their own (from the report).

      6th fact: the initial inflation pressure matches the halftime pressure when the weather conditions (temperature primarily) are accounted for. Gas pressure in a closed system decreases when energy is removed and increases when energy is added. The only way these investigators could conclude that it was not enough was to ignore the refs claim of which gauge was used on the brady balls. When you calculate for the gauge he claims he used, the balls pressure at halftime are what the calculations would predict.

      7th fact: They only tested 4 of the other teams balls at halftime, and did those tests after the brady balls, allowing them to warm up in the room, increasing pressure. Even then, 2 or 3 of those balls were below spec.

      8th fact: The pressure gauges in use are notoriously poor quality for a “important” measurement, one that must be within 1 psi. The damn gauges are not that accurate, nor are they calibrated, nor is their a standard gauge in use.

      I have no idea what the reference “deflator” is. I have no idea if cheating occurred.

      I do know this report is full of holes and started with a conclusion and cannot prove anything beyond an even remote standard of evidence.

      I do know the gauges in use are not sufficient to measure such a small range of pressure accurately. I do know there is no standard gauge, there are no standards for calibration. I do know what this means, the balls are never accurately pressurized.

      Would you convict someone with this “evidence”?

      Do you believe the NFL is an honest actor?

        dystopia in reply to Barry. | May 15, 2015 at 11:33 am

        To get to the crux of the matter, you dispute the findings of Exponent Engineering and Professor Daniel Morrow of Princeton University that the variations in pressure were statistically significant and could not be explained by environmental factors or the measuring equipment?

        As far as the reference to deflator, Jim McNally the Patriot employee responsible for custody of the balls after their air pressure was measured by the referees had these text message exchanges with John Jastremski the Patriot employee responsible for preparing game balls :

        McNally: You working
        Jastremski: Yup
        McNally: Nice dude….jimmy needs some kicks….lets make a
        deal…..come on help the deflator

        Jastremski: Can‟t wait to give you your needle this week 🙂
        McNally: F*** tom….make sure the pump is attached to the
        needle…..****in watermelons coming
        Jastremski: So angry
        McNally: The only thing deflating his passing rating

        There is no earthly reason why McNally needed a “needle” that could be used to deflate footballs. His job was to transport those balls to the playing field after the referees had measured the air pressure using their own equipment.

        Finally would I convict someone? Well only one side has spoken so far. Exponent, Paul, Weiss, LLP and the NFL have presented a prima-facie circumstantial case. I have seen criminal defendants convicted on far less. Absent an on point and solid refutation, reversal of the sanctions would be based on politics not facts.

          DaveGinOly in reply to dystopia. | May 15, 2015 at 2:56 pm

          A Nobel Laureate disputes that conclusion. Please see “Professor MacKinnon’s Scientific Conclusion.”

          From its intro:
          Roderick MacKinnon is a professer at The Rockefeller University. In 2003 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry. His other awards include the 2003 Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize, the 2001 Gairdner Foundation International Award, the 2001 Perl-UNC Neuroscience Prize, the 2000 Lewis S. Rosenstiel Award for Distinguished Work in Basic Medical Science and the 1999 Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award.

          His conclusion:
          In summary I believe the data available on ball pressures can be explained on the basis of physical law, without manipulation. The scientific analysis in the Wells Report was a good attempt to seek the truth, however, it was based on data that are simply insufficient. In experimental science to reach a meaningful conclusion we make measurements multiple times under well-defined physical conditions. This is how we deal with the error or ‘spread’ of measured values. In the pressure measurements physical conditions were not very well-defined and major uncertainties, such as which gauge was used in pre-game measurements, affect conclusions. Finally, the claim of a statistically significant difference in pressure drop between the two team balls regardless of which gauge was used did not account for the fact that the Colts balls were apparently measured at the end of halftime since the officials ran out of time and made only four measurements – in other words, the Colts balls were measured after the Patriots balls and had warmed up more. For the above reasons, the Wells Report conclusion that physical law cannot explain the pressures is incorrect.

          sidebar in reply to dystopia. | May 15, 2015 at 7:24 pm

          That is the kind of expert evidence Brady will need if he is to win his appeal. Just remember many cases have dueling experts. It is up to the trier of facts to make the final determination.

          Barry in reply to dystopia. | May 15, 2015 at 10:23 pm

          “To get to the crux of the matter, you dispute the findings of Exponent Engineering and Professor Daniel Morrow of Princeton University that the variations in pressure were statistically significant and could not be explained by environmental factors or the measuring equipment?”

          Yes, of course, as I have already stated and given the reasons for doing so. As for the professors qualifications, being a professor does not make one right, even a Princeton professor.

          I am an engineer, specifically a process control engineer. We use air pressure for control in many process’s. The calculations for pressure Vs temperature are quite simple. They match the beginning pressure quite accurately, when the right damn gauge is used as the starting reference. I have already pointed out that the professors shoddy report only works when the refs own statement regarding the gauge he used is ignored.

          I have also said I do not know if cheating occurred, but this report proves nothing except what I said, they arrived at their conclusions and then created the evidence to fit.

          Try reading what I said earlier.

As a Steelers fan, I hate the patsies as much as anyone. And I do suspect that they bend the rules a bit. Nonetheless, I think they are/have been the cream of the crop for some time, and they showed that they could whip the Indy colts with or without deflated balls.

So, whatever the NFL decides to do the Tom Brady and the patsies is of little concern to me. But, I find it ridiculously unfair that while giving the patsies and Brady essentially a slap on the wrists, the NFL has decided that patsies’ locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski are both to be suspended without pay, and cannot return to their jobs without the permission of the NFL.

IMO, that’s like punishing Monica Lewinski for her services rendered to Bill Clinton!

    DouglasJBender in reply to TPETang. | May 14, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    I wonder why so many Patriots defenders reference New England not needing to cheat in order to beat the Colts (granted), but neglect to mention that before playing the Colts in the playoffs, they first had to beat the Baltimore Ravens, and THAT game was extremely close, with the Patriots beating the Ravens 35-31. If the Patriots cheated during the Colts game by deflating their footballs (as it is clear that they did), there is no reason to think that they didn’t likewise cheat during the Ravens game. Hence, the Patriots cheated their way to the Super Bowl.

      TPETang in reply to DouglasJBender. | May 15, 2015 at 12:44 am

      I don’t think of myself as a patsies defender. Maybe the ravens would have beat the patsies… Dunno. The ravens do match up well against the patsies.

      healthguyfsu in reply to DouglasJBender. | May 15, 2015 at 8:42 pm

      Not even close to a Pats fan…in fact, not even much of an NFL fan but is this the best you have?

      Maybe they probably cheated against the Ravens because maybe probably they cheated against the Colts?

      That’s the weakest argument I’ve heard…I’m pretty sure this Wells report would include ambiguous inflation pressures, as required to be recorded before each half, from the Ravens game if they showed a result consistent with deflategate. There, I’ve made a debunking assumption without any facts that has at least equal merit as your own.

        TPETang in reply to healthguyfsu. | May 16, 2015 at 10:23 pm

        I think you’re confusing me with someone who cares a lot about whether Tom Brady is punished or whether the patsies cheated. To be clear, I do not.

        My point in posting was to comment on the punishment doled out to the two guys who did something to the balls. I merely think it unfair that these guys were fired while Tom Brady and the patsies are just given a wrist slap.

An official on the field handles the ball between each play–if the Patriots’ balls were so deflated from the standard as to give Brady and his receivers an unfair and illegal advantage, why was the softer ball not recognized by the official, who handled and spotted the ball on the new scrimmage line each and every play?

    kermitrulez in reply to Curmy. | May 15, 2015 at 2:01 am

    It has nothing to do with any perceived advantage at that moment and everything to do with the new American philosophy that everyone who has success has cheated to get there. That allows us to engage in our favorite pastime of tearing down those that are successful to validate our own failed existence.

From reading the report, I was left amazed at the time and expense that goes into preparing a batch of balls each week. The rule allowing each team to tailor its own non-kicking-game balls is a very strange one and essentially begs to be violated. If the officials can bring and prep kicking-game balls, then can bring, prepare, and maintain custody of all balls used for a given game.

In baseball pitchers loved to prepare a ball’s surface, often to amazing effect. But at some point the leagues made doing so illegal.

American Human | May 15, 2015 at 9:23 am

This entire thing is a tempest in a teapot.
In the first place, the only thing that is going on is how to continue to maximize profits within the NFL including its teams and players.
In the second place, well…there is no second place really. To paraphrase Lightning McQueen – One winner, 31 losers. And that, in the end, is what it is all about.
There is no individual character to the NFL anymore. Remember Tom Landry and his cool hat? He would not be allowed to wear that today unless it was an officially licensed NFL hat with the NFL/Cowboys logo prominent somewhere.
The heck with character and morality, it doesn’t generate profits.