NFL investigator Ted Wells found that Patriots employees violated the league rules covering game balls, and that quarterback Tom Brady was “at least generally aware” of the plans to doctor the footballs to his liking, which more than likely makes the future Hall of Famer subject to discipline.
Volin noted the close relationship of Patriots owner Robert Kraft and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, but doesn’t think the team is receiving any special treatment in this instance.
“I think Roger Goodell is very mindful of his public image right now. The Patriots picked the wrong time to do something like this with all the heat the NFL has taken, and Roger Goodell in particular, so I think he’s going to have to come down sort of hard on Tom Brady and Kraft’s organization,” said Volin. “I don’t think [Goodell] is doing Kraft any favors in this one.”
The biggest problem with the report, and what’s most concerning, is that a lot of this investigation is based on the word of referee Walt Anderson and his recollection of pregame measurements (none of which were written down), even though Anderson was informed beforehand by the NFL that there was concern about the balls being under-inflated.
“That’s definitely a hole in this report and this entire story. A lot of this we are forced to believe that Walt Anderson is above reproach and did everything properly, and that he tested the balls with a gauge instead of just a squeeze test,” said Volin. “The report says that, Anderson said that, and that’s great, but it’s not like he wrote them down. There’s no video evidence. … If this was going to a court of law, the Patriots and Tom Brady’s attorney would attack that angle to shreds.”
Walt Anderson, who was revealed in the report as being credible based on his memory, seemed to make many mistakes along the way: He did not emphasize the inflation issue with the other officials, did not remember whose teams balls he tested first or which of the two gauges he used to measure the PSI. He also lost the footballs.
“Even though [the Wells Report] tried to paint a flattering picture of Walt Anderson being above reproach, and doing everything by the letter of the law, it doesn’t make him look very good. He was informed about this issue the day before the game, he didn’t take any special measures with the footballs before the game and he even lost track of them,” said Volin.
“It’s amazing that he was told about this, the balls went missing and it never occurred to him to maybe halt the game for a little bit. He just went along with his business willy-nilly and started the game, and allowed the Patriots to use these under-inflated balls in the first half. Walt Anderson did not do everything appropriately, and we are definitely forced to believe everything he did was above reproach and to the letter of the law, even though there’s no proof.”
Listen below for the full discussion, including possible punishment for Tom Brady: