The NFL and the representatives for Tom Brady seem destined for a legal battle that could last years. Don Yee is taking shots at Ted Wells, Wells is defending his individuality, the team is attacking the report and the NFL, all while undermining the integrity of the NFL.
Where did this messy situation start? What has happened since then? Lets take a look at the "Deflategate" timeline.
Note: The following timeline is according to the Wells report.
AFC Championship game, January 18th
The first suggestion of any wrongdoing was brought up at 9:55 pm (EST), around the midway point of the second half, according to the Wells report. During the game, it was reported by Bob Kravitz, a columnist for Indiana television station WTHR, that the league was investigating the Patriots for deflating footballs in the game.
Tom Brady Radio Interview, January 19th
The morning following the game, Brady was taking part in his weekly telephone interview with the Dennis and Callahan Morning Show on Boston sports radio station WEEI.
A host asked, "Would you care to tell me if you were deflating balls?"
"No," Brady responded, laughing. "I have no idea."
"So they say the acceptable limits between 12 and a half and 13 and a half pounds, I guess, per square inch," one of the hosts said. "But they deflate it more, you can grip the ball better. Did you get the sense that you were able to grip the ball better than the Colts last night?" (Brady laughed).
"Would you care to weigh in on that?" the host asked.
"I think I've heard it all at this point," Brady said.
"We were trying to figure it out whose job it is to take the air out of the ball. I'm pretty sure it's Bob Kraft's," the host said.
"It's nobody's," Brady responded.
"It's not Jonathan Kraft?", a host asked.
"No. God, it's ridiculous," Brady said.
Communication and Meeting between Brady and John Jastremski
Shortly after that interview, John Jastremski, an equipment assistant for the Patriots, texted Brady, "Call me when you get a second."
Brady called back less than a minute later, and the two spoke for 13 minutes, according to the Wells report.
Jastremski says the two discussed the deflation issue, and that it was "probably" the only time they did so, according to the Wells report. Brady, meanwhile, said he recalls speaking with Jastremski that morning but does not remember any specifics—except that they were trying to figure out how much the media was covering the story and what had happened with the footballs.
Later that morning, the two exchanged texts.
"You good Jonny boy?", Brady wrote.
"Still nervous; so far so good though. I'll be alright," Jastremski responded.
"You didn't do anything wrong bud," Brady wrote.
"I know; I'll be all good," Jastremski wrote.
Later that day, the two continued their communications.
"FYI...Dave will be picking your brain later about it," Jastremski wrote Brady, referring to Patriots head equipment manager Dave Schoenfeld. "He's not accusing me, or anyone... trying to get to bottom of it. He knows it's unrealistic you did it yourself."
Jastremski added, "Just a heads up."
"No worries bud. We are still good," Brady responded.
In the Wells report, Jastremski claims that when he said, "knows it's unrealistic you did it yourself", it was a joke, as cameras were on Brady during the game. "It" refers to deflating footballs.
Later, Brady asked Jastremski to meet him in the "QB room." In his 14 years working full-time for the Patriots, Jastremski had never been asked to meet with Brady in the QB room—Brady's "quasi-office," Jastremski said in the Wells report.
That meeting lasted a few minutes, Jastremski claimed.
Brady said he recalls requesting that Jastremski visit him there because he was busy preparing for the Super Bowl and wanted to discuss how the game balls would be prepared.
Later that day, Brady texted Jastremski, asking him to call. Jastremski phoned immediately and, over the course of three calls, they spent about 12 minutes on the phone.
Brady said he does not recall what he discussed with Jastremski during these calls but said that it was "possible" that they discussed issues relating to the deflation allegations. Jastremski said there was no discussion of this during these calls.
According to the Wells report, it appears to be the first cell phone communication between the two men in six months.
The two men spoke by phone again in the morning. Jastremski, who had been in charge of preparing the balls for three seasons, said they discussed the Super Bowl, not the deflation issue. Brady said he does not remember what they discussed, but that he was focused on the Super Bowl and was trying to keep Jastremski focused on it as well.
That afternoon, they spoke again. Jastremski had been interviewed by NFL security officials. Jastremski mentioned to Brady that he met with two NFL representatives for two hours, but did not tell Brady the substance of the interview, Jastremski said. He said Brady was checking in with him about the upcoming Super Bowl. Brady said he does not recall what was discussed.
Again, in the early morning—the 7 a.m. hour—Brady texted Jastremski asking him to call. Jastremski said they did not discuss deflation. A few hours later, they spoke again. Jastremski said he does not remember what they discussed in that call. Brady said he did not remember specifics of the calls, but believes they may have concerned the Super Bowl.
Tom Brady Press Conference, January 22nd
On this day, Brady spoke with the media. "I didn't alter the ball in any way," he said. "I have a process that I go through before every game where I go in and pick the balls that I want... Our equipment guys do a great job of breaking the balls in ... When I pick those footballs out at that point, you know to me they're perfect. I don't want anyone touching the balls after that."
"I have no knowledge of anything. I have no knowledge of any wrongdoing," Brady said. He added that he was in the locker room preparing for the game and does not know what happened "over the course of the process with the footballs.
One reporter asked him if he'd ever played with a football that he knew was too soft.
"So you've never knowingly played with a football that was under 12-and-a-half pounds of pressure?" the reporter asked.
"No," Brady responded. He added, "I think part of being in this position and putting yourself under a spotlight like this and being open for criticism, I think that's very much a part of being a professional athlete."
Brady Weekly Radio Interview, January 26th
Brady addressed the issue on WEEI. "It's all speculation," he said. "I've tried to wrap my head around it, too. I've done that and I'm trying to move past that, because I continue to try to rehash things. You know, I personalized a lot of things and thought this was all about me and my feelings got hurt, and then I moved past it because it's not serving me. I think what's serving me is to try to prepare for the game ahead, and I'll deal with whatever happens later. I'll have my opportunity to try to figure out what happened and figure out a theory like everyone else is trying to do. But this isn't the time for that, and honestly I'm not interested in trying to find out right now because we have the biggest game of our season ahead."
Super Bowl Media Day
Brady was asked about the "Deflategate" story and the leaks from the NFL, which included one report that a Patriots staffer had taken bags of balls into a single-stall bathroom with enough time to deflate New England's allotment.
"I have no reaction to that," he said. "I don't have any speculation on anything that's happened. That will all play itself out after the season ... I have no idea what to believe."
Brady Interviewed By Lawyers, Date Unknown
According to his agent, Don Yee, Brady answered questions from four lawyers over the course of one day at Gillette Stadium. It is unclear when the interview took place. Brady talked about how he likes the footballs prepared for the game, the Wells report says, but said he knew nothing about the range of acceptable air pressure measurements until after a game against the New York Jets in October.
Brady said he asked to see the rules governing the inflation of the balls after that game and decided the target number for the Patriots footballs should be 12.5 psi. The quarterback also was asked whether he had brought up the name of Jim McNally, the Patriots staffer who took the footballs to the field, with Jastremski after the Jets game. "I didn't know who Jim McNally was so I find it hard to believe I could bring that up," he said, according to the report.
Wells Report Released, May 6th
On May 6th, the Wells report was released in its entirety, 243 pages explaining the science of air pressure and the evidence found throughout the process. Wells began his investigation within the week following the AFC Championship game.
"We nevertheless believe, based on the totality of the evidence, that it is more probable than not that Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls," the report says.
The report also says it's unlikely two employees would deflate any football "without Brady's knowledge and approval."
Once the report was released, the NFL world was abuzz.
Don Yee, Brady's agent released a statement on May 7th in response to the report.
"The Wells report, with all due respect, is a significant and terrible disappointment. It’s omission of key facts and lines of inquiry suggest the investigators reached a conclusion first, and then determined so-called facts later. One item alone taints this entire report. What does it say about the league office’s protocols and ethics when it allows one team to tip it off to an issue prior to a championship game, and no league officials or game officials notified the Patriots of the same issue prior to the game? This suggests it may be more probable than not that the league cooperated with the Colts in perpetrating a sting operation. The Wells report buries this issue in a footnote on page 46 without any further elaboration. The league is a significant client of the investigators' law firm; it appears to be a rich source of billings and media exposure based on content in the law firm's website. This was not an independent investigation and the contents of the report bear that out – all one has to do is read closely and critically, as opposed to simply reading headlines. The investigators' assumptions and inferences are easily debunked or subject to multiple interpretations. Much of the report’s vulnerabilities are buried in the footnotes, which is a common legal writing tactic. It is a sad day for the league as it has abdicated the resolution of football-specific issues to people who don’t understand the context or culture of the sport. I was physically present for my client’s interview. I have verbatim notes of the interview. Tom made himself available for nearly an entire day and patiently answered every question. It was clear to me the investigators had limited understanding of professional football. For reasons unknown, the Wells report omitted nearly all of Tom’s testimony, most of which was critical because it would have provided this report with the context that it lacks. Mr. Wells promised back in January to share the results of this investigation publicly, so why not follow through and make public all of the information gathered and let the public draw its own conclusions? This report contains significant and tragic flaws, and it is common knowledge in the legal industry that reports like this generally are written for the benefit of the purchaser."
Patriots Owner Robert Kraft also released a statement on May 6th, while adding that fighting the judgement would be "futile."
"When I addressed the media at the Super Bowl on January 26—over 14 weeks ago—I stated that I unconditionally believed that the New England Patriots had done nothing inappropriate in this process or in violation of the NFL rules and that I was disappointed in the way the league handled the initial investigation. That sentiment has not changed.
"I was convinced that Ted Wells' investigation would find the same factual evidence supported by both scientific formula and independent research as we did and would ultimately exonerate the Patriots. Based on the explanations I have heard and the studies that have been done, I don't know how the science of atmospheric conditions can be refuted or how conclusions to the contrary can be drawn without some definitive evidence.
"What is not highlighted in the text of the report is that three of the Colts' four footballs measured by at least one official were under the required psi level. As far as we are aware, there is no comparable data available from any other game because, in the history of the NFL, psi levels of footballs have never been measured at halftime, in any climate. If they had been, based on what we now know, it is safe to assume that every cold-weather game was played with under inflated footballs. As compelling a case as the Wells Report may try to make, I am going to rely on the factual evidence of numerous scientists and engineers rather than inferences from circumstantial evidence.
"Throughout the process of this nearly four-month investigation, we have cooperated and patiently awaited its outcome. To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship Game, would be a gross understatement. In addition, given our level of cooperation throughout the process, I was offended by the comments made in the Wells Report in reference to not making an individual available for a follow-up interview. What the report fails to mention is that he had already been interviewed four times and we felt the fifth request for access was excessive for a part-time game day employee who has a full-time job with another employer.
"While I respect the independent process of the investigation, the time, effort and resources expended to reach this conclusion are incomprehensible to me. Knowing that there is no real recourse available, fighting the league and extending this debate would prove to be futile. We understand and greatly respect the responsibility of being one of 32 in this league and, on that basis, we will accept the findings of the report and take the appropriate actions based on those findings as well as any discipline levied by the league."
Patriots Suspend Equipment Staffers Named In The Wells Reprt
Contrary to reports, the Patriots indefinitely suspended the two Patriots equipment staffers who carried out the plan, including one who called himself "The Deflator."
NFL Hands Out Punishment Following Wells Findings, May 11th
The NFL suspended Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady without pay for the first four games of the season, fined the New England Patriots $1 million and took away two draft picks as punishment for deflating footballs used in the AFC title game, the league said in a statement Monday.
Kraft and Yee Respond To Punishment From The NFL, May 11th
The following is the statement released from Don Yee in its entirety.
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"The discipline is ridiculous and has no legitimate basis. In my opinion, this outcome was predetermined; there was no fairness in the Wells investigation whatsoever. There is no evidence that Tom directed footballs be set at pressures below the allowable limits. In fact, the evidence shows Tom clearly emphasized that footballs be set at pressures within the rules. Tom also cooperated with the investigation and answered every question presented to him. The Wells Report presents significant evidence, however, that the NFL lacks standards or protocols with respect to its handling of footballs prior to games; this is not the fault of Tom or the Patriots. The report also presents significant evidence the NFL participated with the Colts in some type of pre-AFC Championship Game planning regarding the footballs. This fact may raise serious questions about the integrity of the games we view on Sundays. We will appeal, and if the hearing officer is completely independent and neutral, I am very confident the Wells Report will be exposed as an incredibly frail exercise in fact-finding and logic. The NFL has a well-documented history of making poor disciplinary decisions that often are overturned when truly independent and neutral judges or arbitrators preside, and a former federal judge has found the commissioner has abused his discretion in the past, so this outcome does not surprise me. Sadly, today’s decision diminishes the NFL as it tells its fans, players and coaches that the games on the field don’t count as much as the games played on Park Avenue.”
The following is the statement released by Robert Kraft in its entirety.
"Despite our conviction that there was no tampering with footballs, it was our intention to accept any discipline levied by the league. Today's punishment, however, far exceeded any reasonable expectation. It was based completely on circumstantial rather than hard or conclusive evidence.
"We are humbled by the support the New England Patriots have received from our fans throughout the world. We recognize our fans' concerns regarding the NFL's penalties and share in their disappointment in how this one-sided investigation was handled, as well as the dismissal of the scientific evidence supported by the Ideal Gas Law in the final report.
"Tom Brady has our unconditional support. Our belief in him has not wavered."
Patriots Respond To Wells Report With Their Own Context, May 14th
Today, the Patriots released a document contesting the findings of the Wells report. The document in it's entirety can be found here http://wellsreportcontext.com/.
The site features an annotated version of the executive summary of the Wells Report made by Patriots lawyer Daniel Goldberg, a senior partner at the Boston firm Morgan Lewis. Goldberg was “present during all of the interviews of Patriots personnel conducted at Gillette Stadium,” according to the report’s introduction.
The report calls into question Wells' impartiality due to his financial relationship with the league. It also contends that the “jocular” text messages between team personnel, officials’ locker room attendant Jim McNally and assistant equipment manager John Jastremski, implicated in the Wells Report were not evidence of a calculated plot to deliberately deflate footballs. In regard to McNally referring to himself as “the Deflator” in one text message cited in the Wells Report, the site says this was in reference to his trying to lose weight.
The rebuttal also contends that the one minute and forty seconds spent in the bathroom by McNally is the average time a man requires to use the bathroom and wash his hands.
NFLPA Files Appeal On Behalf of Tom Brady, May 14th
On behalf of Brady, the NFL Players Association filed an appeal on Thursday, arguing that a neutral party should hear it's argument.
"Given the NFL's history of inconsistency and arbitrary decisions in disciplinary matters, it is only fair that a neutral arbitrator hear this appeal," the association said in a statement.
The New England Patriots won the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. They then won the Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks. No amount of PSI in the world would have changed the result of either game—a Pete Carroll play call may have, but not the air pressure of the footballs.
The issue here lies with the organization's handling of the accusations and it's star player's nonchalant attitude toward the infractions. During the course of this timeline, Brady has been uncomfortable when asked about the deflated balls, has been vague in his responses and has refused to turn over pertinent communication to Wells during the course of the investigation. All these are actions of a man who is looking to hide something.
In reference to the deflated balls, there is not an equipment man in the NFL who would illegally alter the equipment used in a game without the direction of a player or coach. To suggest that McNally and Jastremski acted without instruction is silly.
Finally, in the Patriots rebuttal, which I found extremely unprofessional for a professional sports franchise, the suggestion that McNally referring to himself as "The Deflator" was a reference of him losing weight is just plain silly. This document from the Patriots legal team may be the first time in the history of mankind that someone has referred to weight loss as deflating pounds.
Brady's appeal will likely end up being denied, which could lead to a case being brought up in court to clear Brady's name, much like the Adrian Peterson case in 2014. If Deflategate is headed in this direction, those involved would be required to testify under oath about the investigation, and Brady would be subpoenaed to turn over his phone and communications to the court. In the end, a lengthy court battle can do little good for Brady and the Patriots.
"If you have nothing to fear, you have nothing to hide."