By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — With no hard evidence in hand, the NFL’s only course of action to suspend Tom Brady was to conclude that when the quarterback was interviewed by Ted Wells’ investigative team, he was lying.

And the NFL did exactly that.

“Finally,” Troy Vincent wrote in his explanation of the four-game suspension to Brady, “it is significant that key witnesses – Mr. Brady, Mr. Jastremski, and Mr. McNally – were not fully candid during the investigation.”

Well, if that same standard can be applied to NFL employees, then it might be time for VP of officiating Dean Blandino to prepare for a four-week vacation next fall.

At this point, I understand that folks’ eyeballs might immediately gloss over with boredom upon seeing yet another excerpt from the Wells report. But this is important, as it relates to the email sent by Colts GM Ryan Grigson and Colts equipment manager Sean Sullivan. This message was sent to NFL senior VP of football operations David Gardi and director of football operations Mike Kensil.

Kensil forwarded Grigson’s email without comment to James Daniel, Director of Game Operations at he NFL, who in turn forwarded it to other Game Operations personnel who would be at the game as an ‘FYI.’ Kensil also forwarded Grigson’s email to Dean Blandino and Alberto Riveron, both senior members of the NFL Officiating Department, with the message ‘see below.’ Both Riveron and Blandino decided that they would raise the issue with Walt Anderson, who had been assigned as the referee for the game.

On Saturday, the day before the AFC Championship Game, “Blandino reminded Anderson to ensure that proper protocols concerning the footballs were followed.”

So there’s that: Dean Blandino knew in the days leading up to the AFC Championship Game that the Colts had suspicions about the Patriots’ footballs.

But then … there’s this.

At a pre-Super Bowl press conference, Blandino tried to say that nobody from the league was aware of any issues with the footballs prior to the game.

“Then there was an issue that was brought up during the first half,” Blandino said on Jan. 29 in Phoenix. “A football came into question and then the decisions was made to test them at halftime and now.”

When hit with a follow-up question from the New York Post about allegations that the NFL conducted a “sting operation” in order to catch the Patriots red-handed, Blandino again flatly denied any prior knowledge to anything about football inflation levels.

“I don’t know where [the idea of a sting] came from,” Blandino told the Post. “This was a problem that came up in the first half.”

(Quick reminder: This is the same Dean Blandino who was caught partying on a bus with Cowboys exec Stephen Jones and was not penalized at all.)

What you have here is, quite clearly, a case of the VP of officiating telling lies.

Now, there’s also the chance that the commissioner himself lied publicly.

Roger Goodell told Sports Illustrated’s Peter King in late March that he also had no prior knowledge of suspicions regarding the Patriots’ footballs.

King: Can you say that the first time that you heard about this was after the game?

Goodell: Yes.

King: You know that there’s a storyline out there that you knew about the deflating and wanted to catch them in the act.

Goodell: Let’s just short circuit this a little bit. I’m not going to get into what we knew and when we knew it because that’s part of what he’s investigating. … I can tell you that I was not personally aware of it until after the game.

So here, Goodell either blatantly lied in a public statement, or he was not kept in the loop about a pressing matter that was essential to the integrity of the game and the shield.

I’m not sure which one is worse.

But while we don’t know about Goodell, we do know about Blandino. So let’s address that.

The NFL, if pressed, would be stuck between a rock and a hard place here. They could either come out and admit that Dean Blandino, an important figure in the league, knowingly made false public statements. The VP of officiating telling lies doesn’t do much for the “integrity of the game,” now does it? And based on Troy Vincent’s and Roger Goodell’s refusal to accept lies, then the league would have no choice but to suspend the man in charge of officiating — or perhaps even fire him. Remember, the game needs integrity.

The NFL’s other option would be to say that Ted Wells’ report was inaccurate and that Blandino actually had no knowledge of the Patriots’ alleged deflation practices prior to the AFC Championship Game. If they go that route, then they are eliminating whatever credibility the Wells report might have in the first place.

What the NFL decides to do is hard to say. But this much is not up for debate: Dean Blandino lied. Oh, the humanity.

But there is a third option for the NFL, and it’s the only they’re most likely to take: Say nothing, ignore the hypocrisy, and hope nobody notices.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here. You can email him or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

Comments (28)
  1. I dont believe the NFL realized how difficult it would be to gin up the scientific evidence such that it wouldnt be debunked regardless of whether or not they planned up front the whole operation. The science and academic communities from across the country and some in Europe not only unanimously refuted the science in the Wells report but also identified instances of fraud and deceit in the report that had to be intentional. Deflategate has been thoroughly and completely debunked. My opinion is that the first time ever that the nfl measured football pressures during a game, they were completely unprepared to understand the data they saw. Their expectation was that if a football measured 12.5 psi in the warm locker room it should measure the same on the cold field. By now even the semi-literate should understand that is not true. With no prior measurement experience, the very first moment the nfl saw a football measure below 12.5 on the field they made an assumption of guilt which, they did not know at the time, was not consistent with science. It was a matter of ignorance meets opportunity. The Colts and the NFL reacted to seeing a football measure below 12.5. Not only that but if the Colts reacted to seeing a football below 12.5 on that day, then if they had been sticking needles in footballs in games previous to the deflategate game on cold days, they would have been also confused by seeing footballs below 12,5 psi in those previous games which is most likely the source of concerns prior to the deflategate game. Of course they couldnt state they have been sticking needles in footballs so they phrase it with the vague “everyone nows”, We all know that Wells went back and asked the Colts what were their sources on that. Why does the Wells report neglect to mention the result of that investigation?

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