John Jastremski and Jim McNally probably thought it was cool being in cahoots with Tom Brady. He’s the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots, has more Super Bowl rings than most, and his wife is friggin’ Gisele Bündchen. How could these team employees have known he would abandon them, with a string of text messages and phone calls logs to prove it, while acting like he didn’t even know who one of them was?
Let today’s longwinded and sometimes hilarious Ted Wells report serve as a warning: Do not do Tom Brady favors. Sure, the free footballs are cool, and bragging to friends about one-on-one time with a future Hall of Famer is fun. But there are B-movie villains who have done better jobs of covering their tracks (or better yet, not leaving tracks at all). And when trouble comes around he’ll get his own lawyer and deny almost everything, leaving you on the hook—just like he did to these poor jamokes.
How did these guys get caught in the first place? One problem is they were using their work phones. The NFL had an investigative firm retrieve data from Patriots-provided phones, and the team itself provided “copies of select text messages and a call log retrieved from Jim McNally’s personal mobile phone, which had not been provided to Renaissance Associates.” Still, the report says the bulk of the text messages came from Jastremski’s Patriots phone. (Emphasis added is mine.)
On January 21 and 22, 2015, Renaissance Associates collected from counsel for the Patriots the Patriots provided mobile phones used by John Jastremski, Brenden Murphy, Zach Struck, Dave Schoenfeld and Berj Najarian. Renaissance created forensic images of the phones for the purpose of extracting data concerning electronic communications made or received using those phones. Unless otherwise indicated, the information about text messages and phone calls presented in this Report consists of data retrieved from Jastremski’s phone.
For the love of all things holy, Tom, get your people burners! Or at least take a minute to say, Hey, person I’m scheming with, be cool and use your personal phone. His failure to do so is why we can delight ourselves by reading all sorts of incriminating conversations, some of which sure make it sound like our boys are talking to Brady about, well, the investigation.
How important is an invite to the QB room, which is basically Brady’s office? The invitation was the first and only time Jastremski had ever been invited there in his 20 years with the team.
Did Brady fork over his phone records? No way. Emphasis added is mine:
Similarly, although Tom Brady appeared for a requested interview and answered questions voluntarily, he declined to make available any documents or electronic information (including text messages and emails) that we requested, even though those requests were limited to the subject matter of our investigation (such as messages concerning the preparation of game balls, air pressure of balls, inflation of balls or deflation of balls) and we offered to allow Brady’s counsel to screen and control the production so that it would be limited strictly to responsive materials and would not involve our taking possession of Brady’s telephone or other electronic devices. Our inability to review contemporaneous communications and other documents in Brady‟s possession and control related to the matters under review potentially limited the discovery of relevant evidence and was not helpful to the investigation
The report doesn’t say explicitly that Brady used his personal phone, but no Patriots-issued phone is mentioned for him. Still, what investigators got was enough to show there was an increase in communication between Brady and Jastremski after Jan. 19, when the story broke, that the report says “suggests that Brady was closely monitoring Jastremski.”
After not communicating by telephone or text for more than six months (according to data retrieved from Jastremski‟s cell phone), Brady and Jastremski spoke twice by telephone on January 19 (calls lasting a total of 25 minutes and 2 seconds), twice on January 20 (calls lasting a total of 9 minutes and 55 seconds) and twice on January 21 (calls lasting a total of 20 minutes and 52 seconds) before Jastremski surrendered his cell phone to the Patriots later that day for forensic imaging.
(About damn time they at least did one thing right and talked instead of sending all those incriminating messages. Still would have been better with a burner, though.)
Did Brady talk to investigators? Yes, but the report notes he had “agents and lawyers” in attendance during his interview. No such luck for McNally and Jastremski. The report doesn’t mention any separate lawyers in attendance for them. Their only defense seemed to be whatever counsel and guidance was provided by the Patriots.
Brady at least acknowledged his boys, though, right? They’ve been sneaking around to provide him with perfect balls, and that should be worth something. Brady did acknowledge talking with Jastremski after the Jets game about the inflation of the balls. But when it came to McNally, Brady acted like he didn’t know the guy existed.
When interviewed, Brady claimed that, prior to the events surrounding the AFC Championship Game, he did not know McNally’s name or anything about McNally’s game-day responsibilities, including whether McNally had any responsibilities relating to game balls or the game officials. When asked specifically whether he had spoken with Jastremski about McNally on the night of the Jets game, he stated: “I didn’t know who Jim McNally was so I find it hard to believe I could bring that up.” On this point, Brady’s statement is inconsistent with Jastremski’s statements that Brady knew McNally and made a comment about McNally during the Jets game when complaining about the game balls.
That’s cold! The report itself calls this out as “not plausible and contradicted by other evidence.” Like, for example, these text messages where Jastremski mentions Brady talking about McNally:
Buried in footnote 74, the report points out how such a message would be interpreted in court:
We note that Jastremski’s statements to McNally concerning Brady are in the nature of statements made by a co-conspirator during and in furtherance of a conspiracy, which would be admissible under Rule 801(d)(2)(E) of the Federal Rules of Evidence.
So Brady didn’t get his guys the secure phones they needed, denied knowing one of them even though the evidence says otherwise, and was way more lawyered up than the people actually doing the dirty work appear to have been. What about the day this all went down? A good leader, be it in crime or more above-board doings, gives the people below them help when there’s a problem, and on the day of the AFC championship game there was definitely a problem. (There were too many people around.)
Milton Britton, the regular season k-ball coordinator for the Patriots, reported that he regularly watches ESPN in the sitting room area while everyone else is on the field and stated that “nine out of ten times” the sitting room is otherwise empty, apart from McNally. On the night of the AFC Championship Game, however, the Officials Locker Room was crowded and McNally is unlikely to have had an opportunity to tamper with the balls in the locker room without being detected.
So McNally heads to the bathroom, alone. His explanation doesn’t sound like it went over well in the report.
According to the interview report from an NFL Security interview of McNally on January 21, McNally said that he did not know why he would leave the locker room with the game balls without being accompanied by game officials, and “just decided to leave the locker room at that time to go to the field.” He said that no one had ever told him that he was required to wait for the officials. He also claimed that he went into the bathroom with the game balls because when he got to the end of the tunnel, he realized that he suddenly had to use the bathroom.
Dammit, Brady, what the hell? You have to give your men better cover stories than this.
The report does its best to play down the all but obvious connection to Brady without actually hiding the fact that common sense alone says Brady knew, as in the part where it notes it’s “unlikely” that two people would deflate game balls without Brady knowing. But it won’t go so far as to lay the blame on him, just finding it “more probable than not” that Patriots personnel deliberately wanted to remove air and “more probable than not” that Brady “was at least generally aware.”
Of course Brady knew. If the NFL can’t prove it, that’s probably because he was only looking out for one man in this situation—Tom Brady. Everyone else, it seems, was expendable.
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