Tom Brady Probably Knew About Deflated Balls, According to Official NFL Report
Remember "Deflategate"? The NFL released the so-called Wells Report earlier today (full doc here), the result of a months-long, extensive investigation into whether the footballs used in the Patriots-Colts AFC Championship Game back in January were illegally tampered with. So were they? According to the report, probably:
For the reasons described in this Report, and 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. (emphasis ours)
So yeah: Tom Brady probably knew about the illegal deflating, even though back in January he mocked anyone who said he did. On a radio interview with Boston's WEEI, Brady called the implication that he would deliberately deflate game balls to make them easier to throw and catch "ridiculous," adding, "I think I've heard it all at this point."
The report also states that there is no evidence that Patriots coach Bill Belichick or owner Robert Kraft knew anything. The main culprits, aside from Brady, appear to be McNally and Jastremski, who exchanged numerous text messages explicitly referencing the deflating of footballs during the season, often directly naming Brady and expressing derision at him. Some were actually rather amusing. At one point, McNally even refers to himself as "the deflator."
The NFL has not announced any possible punishments for those involved, though it could be just "days away," according to ESPN. Robert Kraft released a statement regarding the report, saying he was "disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship Game ... While I respect the independent process of the investigation, the time, effort and resources expended to reach this conclusion are incomprehensible to me."
Tom Brady has yet to comment.