BOSTON (CBS) — Ted Wells has finally completed his investigation into deflated footballs used in the AFC Championship Game and he has submitted his 243-page report to the NFL and to the New England Patriots.
It was released to the public Wednesday afternoon and claims some Patriots employees likely deflated footballs and quarterback Tom Brady may have known about it.
Read: The Wells Report (.pdf)
Though the lengthy report examines many different areas of concern, it concluded that it is likely that “it is more probable than not” that Brady was “at least generally aware” that two Patriots employees “participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee.”
The report states:
“After a comprehensive investigation, we have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship Game, it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules. In particular, we have concluded that it is more probable than not that Jim McNally (the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots) and John Jastremski (an equipment assistant for the Patriots) participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee.
“Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.
“In particular, we do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots ownership, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick or any other Patriots coach in the matters investigated. We also do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots Head Equipment Manager Dave Schoenfeld.”
NFL ‘WILL CONSIDER WHAT STEPS TO TAKE’
“I want to express my appreciation to Ted Wells and his colleagues for performing a thorough and independent investigation, the findings and conclusions of which are set forth in today’s comprehensive report,” Roger Goodell said in a statement on Wednesday.
“As with other recent matters involving violations of competitive rules, Troy Vincent and his team will consider what steps to take in light of the report, both with respect to possible disciplinary action and to any changes in protocols that are necessary to avoid future incidents of this type. At the same time, we will continue our efforts vigorously to protect the integrity of the game and promote fair play at all times.”
Patriots owner Robert Kraft issued the following statement:
“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.”
“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.
“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.”
WHO IS TED WELLS?
Ted Wells is a criminal law attorney who was hired by the NFL as an independent investigator after the Patriots were accused of using multiple underinflated footballs during their AFC Championship victory over the Indianapolis Colts in January.
Wells was also hired by the NFL to investigate the Miami Dolphins after a bullying scandal that came to light in 2013. Wells’ report, which was released in 2014, found what he called a pattern of harassment within the organization.
DeflateGate, meanwhile, drew national headlines during the two weeks leading up to the this year’s Super Bowl between the Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks.
Belichick, Brady and Kraft all vehemently denied accusations that the team intentionally deflated its footballs in advance of the game against the Colts.
During a hastily announced press conference the Saturday before the Super Bowl, Belichick spoke about science and blamed the atmospheric conditions at Gillette Stadium for the loss of air in the team’s footballs.
“I’m not a scientist. I’m not an expert in football measurements,” Belichick said on Jan. 24, even referencing Marisa Tomei’s Oscar-winning character in the movie My Cousin Vinny. “I’m just telling you what I know. I would not say that I’m Mona Lisa Vito of the football world as she was in the car expertise area.”
Despite the controversy leading up to the Super Bowl, the Patriots won their fourth championship in franchise history, defeating the Seahawks 24-23 after a last minute interception by rookie Malcolm Butler.
All told, from the date of the AFC Championship Game until the date of the release of the report, 108 days passed.