The New England Patriots took a stab at some longform journalism Thursday with a point-by-point rebuttal of the Wells Report on Deflategate, which the NFL used as the basis for its punishment of the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady.
The rebuttal, at WellsReportContext.com, takes each aspect with which the Patriots disagree and offers a boldfaced response, as prepared by Daniel L. Goldberg, the attorney “who represented the Patriots and was present during all of the interviews of Patriots personnel conducted at Gillette Stadium. Our intention is to provide additional context for balance and consideration,” as described the the team.
Because the Patriots have something to say about nearly every aspect of the Wells Report, it’s a long read. The main disputes are over the science behind the NFL’s findings and New England’s claims that the text messages between team employees Jim McNally and John Jastremski — which were as much of a smoking gun as the NFL had — were not serious conversations about Brady’s demands for illegal football inflation but rather “ill-stated attempts at humor.”
Here’s the gist:
This conclusion ignores the scientific explanation for the drop in psi, ignores obvious issues concerning gauge inconsistency, and is based on adverse inferences from circumstantial evidence, primarily texts sent in October after the Patriots-Jets game (at which footballs were seriously overinflated by the game officials to levels in violation of League rules). These inferences ignore the testimony given by both the author and the recipient of various ill-stated attempts at humor contained in texts. No witness gave the texts the meaning that the report attributes to them. No independent evidence confirmed how the report interprets the texts. The report simply speculates that all the selected texts had to do with improper football deflation after the referee’s inspection, although not a single text mentions any such thing.
One of the bigger stretches the rebuttal makes regards McNally calling himself the “deflator” in a text message sent to Jastremski. The rebuttal says McNally was simply talking about his efforts to slim down, not about taking air out of footballs:
Mr. Jastremski would sometimes work out and bulk up — he is a slender guy and his goal was to get to 200 pounds. 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.
The Patriots rebutted just about everything in the Wells report except this part: That Brady, as asserted in the report, “declined to make available any documents or electronic information (including text messages and emails) that we requested, even though those requests were limited to the subject matter of our investigation (such as messages concerning the preparation of game balls, air pressure of balls, inflation of balls or deflation of balls) and we offered to allow Brady’s counsel to screen and control the production so that it would be limited strictly to responsive materials and would not involve our taking possession of Brady’s telephone or other electronic devices.”
No explanation was given in the rebuttal as to why Brady was less than forthcoming, though the reason seems pretty clear.