With trumped up charges and a whole lot of dodgy PSI data, the only somewhat-weighty evidence that the Patriots had a concerted ball-deflation scheme going was the text-message comedy stylings of locker-room attendant Jim “The Deflator” McNally and equipment assistant John “Dorito Dink” Jastremski. The two were immediately suspended upon the release of the Wells Report, but a lot has changed since then.
After some miscommunication from the league on whether they had received the request, the NFL confirms: the Patriots want the suspension lifted.
McNally’s and Jastremski’s status—namely, who they’ve actually been suspended by—isn’t totally clear. The league statement from May said the two were “indefinitely suspended without pay by the club,” but that “neither of these individuals may be reinstated without the prior approval of...Troy Vincent.” That sure sounds like an NFL suspension to me, but by now we should be used to the league making stuff up as it goes along.
How the league handles the Patriots’ request is worth watching, because I’m not sure how firmly the league plans to stand by its finding of guilt. Tom Brady’s suspension was overturned in court, but because of the disciplinary process rather than the evidence. The Patriots’ fine and lost draft picks will stand, though owner Robert Kraft says he regrets not challenging them at the time. A reinstatement of the two men that the NFL alleged were the firsthand perpetrators of the illegally deflated footballs could be a signal that the league is ready to move on from the question of footballs, and focus just on the court case that more strictly concerns Roger Goodell’s disciplinary powers. Upholding McNally’s and Jastremski’s suspensions would be as good as a public announcement that the NFL still thinks the Patriots cheated.
Either way, Brady will continue to insist that he never met the guys.