Well, I did it. I read the Patriots' entire rebuttal to the Ted Wells' Deflategate report.
The Patriots lawyers bring up some very good points - many of which have already been highlighted by the media since the report's release.
If you want to read the entire 20,000+ word document, go right ahead. It's right here.
If you don't, I've taken the liberty of highlighting the key points that the rebuttal makes - with some points being convincing and others not. The Patriots representatives take on a lot of points here. They are angry about how they've been portrayed in the media, the NFL not squashing misinformation, as well as their belief that most of the Wells report is wild speculation with no hard proof to back it up.
Withour further ado, 11 convincing points, five not so convincing points and 2 goofs that the Patriots rebuttal raises.
POINT 1 -
NFL twisted Walt Anderson's testimony to fit their conclusions.
Two different gauges were used by the referees to measure the footballs, and both produced wildly different results. One gauge had a logo, the other didn't. Referree Walt Anderson told investigators that his best recollection was that he used the gauge with the logo. In this case, science would explain the drop in pressure at half time for the Patriots footballs. The Wells Report dismissed Anderson's recollection for seemingly no reason, and assumed he used the other gauge.
Mr. Anderson’s “best recollection” is that he used the Logo gauge to check the footballs pre-game (pg. 52). The Logo gauge shows higher psi numbers than the non-Logo gauge. Crediting that Mr. Anderson used the Logo gauge to measure the Patriots footballs pre-game, the halftime psi of the Patriots footballs on that gauge are consistent with the Ideal Gas Law calculations of what would happen naturally.
POINT 2 -
The League let misinformation spread, tarnishing Patriots reputation in the media
The league sent a letter about deflated footballs to the Patriots prior to their investigation (READ IT HERE). This letter contained incorrect PSI measurements of the Patriots footballs. This is the information that infamously leaked through ESPN's Chris Mortenson that found 11 of 12 Patriots footballs were below legal limits and none of the Colts footballs were below 12.5 PSI. We now know this not to be true, yet the Patriots allege that the league did nothing to quell this and let the story fester with incorrect facts for months.
Why was the League content to have the Patriots dealing with this investigation for months based on inaccurate information? The investigators were not troubled by any of these obvious errors or by the League’s failure to correct them. The inaccuracies in this letter, combined with subsequent leaks to the media that were never corrected by the League placed this investigation on a footing of misinformation, to the Patriots substantial disadvantage. The report treats these inaccuracies as inconsequential (See page 101), when quite the opposite is true; they fueled international media misinformation to the Patriots serious detriment.
POINT 3 -
The Wells reports wildly connects dots, offers "best guess" conclusions
The Patriots hammer specifically on the texts and phone logs of McNally, Jastremski and Brady - which were used by the Wells report as their most concrete proof of malfeasance. The Patriots allege that the evidence that supports the Wells' report's conclusion is not greater than the evidence in opposition to it. Essentially, the Pats are saying that the Wells report operates with a predetermined assumption of what McNally and Jastremski are talking about in their texts. They never mention doing anything outside the rules with the footballs. Not once. The Pats basically remind us that deflating a football is one thing, deflating it below legal limits after the referee inspects it is another.
This report sidesteps the scientific issues and speculates that (i) all text references to deflation must have been referring to the improper deflation of footballs after the referee’s inspection, and (ii) because Brady preferred the footballs be at 12.5 he must really have wanted them even lower, and (iii) Tom Brady probably had a “general awareness” of the purported improper deflation of game footballs.
POINT 4 -
Asking for and receiving an autograph from Tom Brady doesn't mean he's bribing you
One strange thing I found in the Wells report was how much time it spent talking about autographs. Particularly, a game ball McNally owned from the game when Brady passed for over 50,000 yards. The Wells report alleged that these gifts were a sort of reward for the risk of the illegal deflating. The Patriots argument is basically that Brady signs a lot of autographs. Fair enough.
Such requests are made multiple times almost every day in the team locker room or equipment room, even on game day. Mr. Brady believes he has never turned down such a request. If receiving an autograph from Mr. Brady is evidence that you are being rewarded by him for nefarious conduct, then hundreds or even thousands of people must be part of a scheme of wrongdoing. What is not disputed is that Mr. Brady, other than signing three items that Mr. McNally handed to him, has never gifted anything to Mr. McNally. That fact cuts against the existence of the scheme the report hypothesizes.
POINT 5 -
Nothing in the text messages supports Tom Brady being "generally aware" of deflating gameballs after referee inspection
Tom Brady is the only one being specifically punished here - with his four game suspension - and so some amount of proof that he did something wrong, the Patriots say, would seem necessary. The Patriots allege that, through the logs of text messages, there is nothing to support the finding that he was "at least generally aware" of inappropriate activities. Brady never texts instructions to perform inappropriate activities. The most the texts reveal is Tom Brady being angry about game ball inflation after the Jets game in October, when referees overinflated the balls to 16 psi. Beyond legal limits.
NOT A SINGLE TEXT REFERS TO DEFLATING FOOTBALLS TO A LEVEL BELOW REGULATION, TO DEFLATING FOOTBALLS AFTER THE REFEREE’S INSPECTION, OR TO ANY DIRECTIONS FROM MR. BRADY — OR EVEN ANY BELIEF THAT TOM BRADY WOULD PREFER TO USE BELOW REGULATION FOOTBALLS.
It takes a minute and 40 seconds to go to the bathroom too
One of the biggest things the Wells report harps on is McNally's activities prior to the AFC Championship game. They assume he took the balls into the bathroom and deflated them. The Patriots purport that McNally was not doing anything stealthy. They point out that he carried the balls in full view of many NFL officials and was not reprimanded for doing so. He then stopped in the bathroom for a minute and 40 seconds. We see all this from security footage.
The Patriots say he could've just been going pee. They refute the Wells report's argument that he could've deflated the balls in that amount of time, while pointing out there was no reason he would even need to rush to do so. It's funny to be talking about how long it takes to whizz, but the Pats are allegedly saying that this is another case of twisting circumstantial evidence to fit one particular conclusion, when other more realisitc possibilities exist.
The report does not address whether one minute and 40 is consistent with the time that it takes a gentleman to enter a bathroom, relieve himself, wash his hands, and leave. In fact, it is. Nor does the report consider or acknowledge that, with the start of the game having been delayed, there was no reason for Mr. McNally to rush any efforts to deflate footballs in the bathroom if that was the task at hand. Mr. McNally had already been told that the start of the game had been delayed (from 6:40 to 6:50). He entered the bathroom with almost 20 minutes until game time. There was simply no need to rush were he engaged in releasing air from footballs — a process one would suspect would have to be done very carefully so as not to release too much air from any football. The one minute and 40 seconds in the bathroom was far more likely to have been for exactly the reason Mr. McNally gave.
When later asked why he did not use the urinals in the Officials’ Locker Room or the chain gang room, he fully explained why — and his reasons are supported by the report’s conclusions about how crowded the Officials’ Locker Room area was (pgs. 54-55). One can draw no adverse inferences from an attendant deciding not to use the crowded facilities.
POINT 7 -
The Wells report assumes that deflating air from a football means deflating it below legal limits
This was the biggest thing I noticed from reading the Wells report, and some in the media pointed to it as well. There is for sure one reference to the "deflator" in the texts but the report seems to assume that not only would no one ever deflate a football unless they were doing it after the referee inspected them, but that if they deflated a football they would be doing it below legal psi.
The Patriots allege that the Wells report ommitted Jastremski tellings investigators that he deflates footballs a little bit after taking them out of the box, making them easier to prepare. And that he also deflates them between 12.75-12.85 before handing them to Brady for pregame inspection.
Perhaps most revealing, then, is that not a single text states that: (i) Brady wanted footballs set below 12.5 psi; (ii) there was a plan to deflate footballs after the referee inspected them; or (iii) there was any actual such deflation. Nonetheless, the report assumes that every text reference to inflation or deflation of footballs suggests there was a plot to improperly deflate footballs after the referee’s inspection. In reality, there is simply no basis to assume that conclusion.
First, the report ignores the information the investigators gathered that Mr. Jastremski’s duties in football preparation in fact routinely involve deflating every football at least twice.
POINT 8 -
The Wells report assumes that "Going to ESPN" was about deflating footballs
The Wells report found the below string of texts particularly damning - saying that it was insinuating that McNally was demanding shoes as payment for his illegal deflating antics, otherwise he would go to ESPN.
16:39:40 JM “Nice dude…jimmy needs some kicks….lets
make a deal…come on help the deflator”
[After Mr. Jastremski does not respond for several minutes, Mr. McNally sends a follow-up text.]
16:47:15 JM “Chill buddy im just f****n with you….im not going
The Patriots offer another explanation for this, one that actually seems to be supported by the context of further texts. They allege that he was referring to Jastremski giving away sneakers without his boss knowing and that going to ESPN was a joke, as the two often joked via text.
The “espn” reference in this string of jocular texts was part of their banter and related to the “new kicks.” Mr. Jastremski had made it clear to Mr. McNally over time that his (Jastremski’s) boss would not be happy with him were he to give away sneakers to Mr. McNally. That fact is quite explicit in a number of their texts. (p. 82 — after texting about possibly getting Mr. McNally sneakers and apparel, Mr. Jastremski writes: “unless Dave [his boss, Dave Schoenfeld] leaves the room tomorrow then it’ll wait till next week”). Getting sneakers or apparel for his friend Mr. McNally, in short, meant Mr. Jastremski would have to do so behind his boss’s back. They teased each other about whether Mr. Jastremski would get in trouble for giving him sneakers. The May 2014 McNally text reference to “not going to espn” follows his request for “new kicks,” and was Mr. McNally’s way of saying, in substance: “Hey, don’t worry about whether giving me those sneakers will get you in trouble — I’ll never tell.” The Wells investigators had this text long before their interviews with Mr. McNally and Mr. Jastremski. Had they asked Mr. McNally or Mr. Jastremski about this text when they interviewed each for a full day using four lawyers, they would have learned this.
POINT 9 -
A plausible, scientific explanation for variance in psi levels of Colts and Patriots balls
The Patriots essentially lay out some compelling arguments for why the weather may have effected their game balls more than the Colts. Rather than repeat it, here's their argument.
There were some significant differences between the game play and handling of the footballs by the two teams in the first half. The Patriots had far more offensive plays than the Colts, so the Patriots footballs were used more. The Patriots had the football on offense for the last 4:54 of the first half (except for the last 9 seconds when Andrew Luck took a knee) — i.e., just before the footballs came in for halftime measurements, the Patriots footballs were being used while the Colts footballs were being held in trash bags. The Patriots ball boys did not use bags, thereby exposing the footballs more to the rain. The Colts footballs were gauged at halftime after the Patriots footballs were gauged and inflated, and thus had an extra 10 or so minutes in the warm Officials’ Locker Room for their psi to equilibrate. In short, there are numerous explanations for the Colts footballs showing less psi loss than the Patriots footballs having nothing to do with tampering. While the League consultants could not precisely explain all of the difference in psi drop to a scientific certainty, even they acknowledge that non-tampering factors could have led to a difference in the levels of the psi drops.
Exponent was the scientific research firm that the Wells investigation employed to determnine whether science played a role in the drop of the PSI. Exponent is perhaps best known for helping provide data to corporations who are facing a public disaster. They infamously "found" that second hand smoke does not cause cancer.
The Patriots have some big problems with their findings and experimental procedures.
They also point to the fact that Exponent's scientific research seems to have been done the day of the release of the report - May 6th.
During the course of play — where the Patriots had far more offensive plays than did the Colts, the Patriots footballs were subject to far more use, more crushing multiple times under hundreds of pounds of player weight, more exposure to the rain, etc. Also, the consultants did not use any footballs in their simulations that were subjected to the type of actual football game preparation as the balls at issue — the Patriots personnel were never asked to replicate that process, the Patriots facilities were never used in the simulation, and actual game play usage was not replicated. The well-worn footballs used in the simulations had already been subjected to vigorous game day play and were no longer in the same condition as the footballs used in the first half of the AFC Championship Game. Where fractions of psi are critical to an analysis, greater precision should be expected.
POINT 10 -
Tom Brady wanting the footballs set to a lower PSI than 12.5 makes no sense
There are parts of Tom Brady's testimony that simply weren't touched upon in the Wells report. One of those is how Brady explained how it would make no sense for him to want someone to go into a bathroom and quickly shove a needle into the balls he would be using in the very important AFC Championship game.
[Brady] does not want those footballs adjusted after his selections. To have someone, particularly someone who would do so in a haphazard fashion, release air from footballs after they have been set at 12.5 could only result in inconsistency of the footballs. Speculation that Mr. Brady wanted footballs deflated by tampering is also illogical. Cold weather naturally deflates footballs. If there was some psi lower than 12.5 psi that Mr. Brady wanted, all involved in this hypothesized scheme would have had to have detailed knowledge of the Ideal Gas Law, what game time temperature would be, and precisely how much air to release so that game-time psi would be exactly what Mr. Brady desired. Of course, there is no evidence of any of this. Moreover, as further explained by Mr. Brady to the investigators, a football that is too soft is actually more difficult to pass with than a football that is firm. The only time that psi became an issue for Mr. Brady was after the Jets game when, as noted above, the footballs were significantly over-inflated.
POINT 11 -
Explaining why Patriots did not produce McNally for a final interview
The Patriots were docked two draft picks and $1 million for not fully cooperating with the investigation by blocking a final interview with McNally.
The Patriots allege that not only were the interviews lengthy and strenuous but they also took McNally away from his full-time job in New Hampshire without pay. They also allege that the investigators had all of the information - all texts- available to them on their prior questionings but apparently overlooked this information. For their negligence, the Patriots assert, the franchise was punished.
While the report states that certain of Mr. Jastremski’s texts were not “discovered” until after this interview (pg. 75, footnote 47), there is no question that the investigators had all such texts in their possession and available for the questioning. They apparently just overlooked them, identifying them now as a matter they wanted to cover in yet another interview. (pg. 75) Although asked numerous times for the reason for their request for yet another interview with Mr. McNally, the Wells investigators never stated the reason that now appears evident from the Report: They had overlooked texts in their earlier interviews and wanted the opportunity to ask about them.
NOT SO CONVINCING
POINT 1 -
NFL prejudged the Patriots
The NFL sent a letter to the Patriots informing them of some "preliminary findings" that the Patriots tampered with footballs. The question of weather affecting the footballs never seemed to be considered. The Patriots allege that this means that they were judged from the start and at times they seem to insinuate this may have been part of a sting operation.
There's really just not enough evidence to back that up.
POINT 2 -
Tom Brady didn't turn over texts, call logs and emails because NFL already had this information
The Patriots allege that since the NFL had the text logs of McNally and Jastremski, they did not need Tom Brady's info - as all of his texts and phone calls to either of them would be contained in those logs. While that's a fair point, it's also a faily obvious one. I'm sure Wells investigators were aware of that.
They probably weren't looking for texts with the ballboys in Brady's personal information, but perhaps texts to loved ones, friends or even Robert Kraft or Bill Belichick. For example, they used texts between Jastremski and his fiance as evidence in this case.
POINT 3 -
McNally used the term "deflator" as a weight loss term
I mean, cmon. The nature of the texts was in a pretty joking manner, but it does seem like a stretch that he would call himself the deflator because he's trying to lose weight. This is the point that you're going to find most focusing on.
Mr. McNally is a big fellow and had the opposite goal: to lose weight. “Deflate” was a term they used to refer to losing weight. One can specifically see this use of the term in a Nov. 30, 2014 text from Mr. McNally to Mr. Jastremski: “deflate and give somebody that jacket.” (p. 87). This banter, and Mr. McNally’s goal of losing weight, meant Mr. McNally was the “deflator.” There was nothing complicated or sinister about it.
POINT 4 -
Jastremski referring to McNally's "stress" is about season tickets, not deflating footballs
The Wells report's case of Tom Brady being "generally aware" of inappropriate activitiy hinges on a text from Jastremski to McNally.
McNally: Tom sucks…im going make that next ball a fuckin balloon
Jastremski: Talked to him last night. He actually brought you up and said you must have a lot of stress trying to get them done…
The Patriots allege that Wells is only assuming that "he" refers to Tom Brady and that "stress" refers to deflating footballs, though that seems a reasonable assumption given the context. The Patriots say that Jastremski's text logs show that he frequently sends texts unrelated to the one prior received from the recipient. That is their explanation for why "he" is not Tom Brady.
The Patriots say that McNally was having trouble selling his season tickets, which was the reference to "stress getting them done". The Wells report dismisses this as a cause for stress because of the team's ticket exchange program. However, the Patriots point out that that program does not allow the season ticket holder to profit. Jamstremski says that the "he" he was referring to was his friend whom stayed over his house that night.
After the conversation with Mr. Jastremski’s friend was explained by Mr. Jastremski, the investigators did not request the opportunity to interview the Mr. Jastremski friend to determine whether any such conversation had in fact happened. The Patriots tracked down Mr. Jastremski’s friend, who is a professional fraud investigator and whose livelihood depends on his honesty. They arranged for a telephone interview with the investigators in which the individual explained in great detail the timing (the night of the Jets game), place (Mr. Jastremski’s house) and content of the conversation (dealing with Mr. McNally’s sister, suffering some early onset memory loss, trying to sell the family game tickets). The investigators, rather than take further steps to check out this information, simply chose to disbelieve input that did not square with their conclusions.
Mr. Brady, when asked about this text, said that not only did he never have any such conversation with Mr. Jastremski but that, at the time, he did not even know how footballs got from the Officials’ Locker Room to the field — whether game officials took them, whether League officials took them, etc. That is simply not a matter he needs to focus on as the game is about to start.
The Patriots take this point further, again implying that the Wells report assumes for no reason that Brady wants his footballs below 12.5 psi, and that it would be a stressful operation to drain them of .5 PSI even though the weather would do that anyway. They assert that the story about the tickets is much more plausible.
In sum, the keystone link that the investigators rely on to implicate Mr. Brady is that he is the individual being referred to in this text as “him” and “he” even though all four people in any way involved in or related to this text have rebutted this interpretation. The investigators made up their minds that “him” and “he” referred to Mr. Brady, and dismissed all contradictory evidence as “not plausible.”
This one is hard to speculate on as it seems like either interpretation has as many holes as the other. Certainly the context of the texts seem to support Wells' argument. The only way to disagree with that is to take Jastremski, Brady, McNally and Jastremski's friend's words at face value. Ted Wells chose not to, and I suppose that is his right. Either way, there doesn't seem to be anything concrete here either way. Even if Jastremski was referring to Brady, there is nothing to concretely indicate that "getting them done" means deflating balls below legal limits.
POINT 5 -
YOUR needle was actually the REFEREES' needle
At one point Jastremski texts McNally, "Can't wait to give you your needle this week"
The Wells report jumps to the conclusion that this is evidence that McNally will be using the needle to deflate footballs below legal limits. The Patriots allege that this was a normal operating procedure where officials would request that McNally get them a second needle for pre-game inspection. To these eyes, both scenarios seem equally plausible and hard to really determine which is more likely. There's nothing concrete here on either side.
Sometimes, Mr. McNally was provided with a gauge and pump with only one of them having a needle in it. This would lead Officials relying on the Patriots equipment for their pre-game inspection to have to take out the needle and move it back and forth between the gauge and pump during. (pg. 80). Officials would, on those occasions, often send Mr. McNally back to the equipment room to get a second needle that they could use. Mr. McNally had to ask Mr. Jastremski for any needles requested by an official. This became a running joke between the two of them.
The Colts broke the rules!
In a case of the Patriots either fingerpointing or trying to set up the theory that the Colts may have deflated the ball they intercepted, the Patriots point out a minor violation on the Colts part.
Once the game starts, neither team is allowed to gauge the footballs, pump them, or the like. That is solely the province of the referee, who is to be the “sole judge” of whether footballs comply. The Colts, with advance concerns about psi, did not take the issue to the referee. They took the matter into their own hands and had an intern gauge the football. (pg. 63) This conduct was in violation of Rule 2. Nowhere does the Report identify this conduct as a violation of the Rule.OMITTED OUT OF RESPECT FOR MRS. JASTREMSKI
This part just has to be included. The Patriots reveal some more texts to demonstrate the "jocular" nature with which McNally and Jamstremski would text eachother.
12:21:46: JM “Whats up dorito dink”
12:22:53: JJ “Nada”
12:22:53: JM “Whens the pong party….im on fire”
12:23:10: JJ “Omg”
12:23:34: JM “Bring it”
16:29:48: JM “You still with your women”
16:29:59: JJ “Yup”
16:33:21: JM “You must have her [omitted out of respect to Mrs. Jastremski]”
16:34:39: JM “You must have a picture of her [omitted out of respect to Mrs. Jastremski]”
16:36:31: JJ “Omg”
Any more observations? Feel free to leave them in the comments.