The Wells Report found it likely that Patriots equipment staffers illegally deflated footballs, and that Tom Brady was at least aware of the practice. (The evidence makes it almost impossible to believe that he wasn’t an active participant.) Now Brady’s camp fires back for the first time, with a statement from his agent, Don Yee:
“The Wells report, with all due respect, is a significant and terrible disappointment. Its omission of key facts and lines of inquiry suggest the investigators reached a conclusion first, and then determined so-called facts later. One item alone taints this entire report. What does it say about the league office’s protocols and ethics when it allows one team to tip it off to an issue prior to a championship game, and no league officials or game officials notified the Patriots of the same issue prior to the game? This suggests it may be more probable than not that the league cooperated with the Colts in perpetrating a sting operation.”
The “more probable than not” is a reference to the jargon used in the Wells Report, and is a pretty awesome burn.
“The league is a significant client of the investigators’ law firm; it appears to be a rich source of billings and media exposure based on content in the law firm’s website. This was not an independent investigation and the contents of the report bear that out – all one has to do is read closely and critically, as opposed to simply reading headlines. The investigators’ assumptions and inferences are easily debunked or subject to multiple interpretations. Much of the report’s vulnerabilities are buried in the footnotes, which is a common legal writing tactic.
“It is a sad day for the league as it has abdicated the resolution of football-specific issues to people who don’t understand the context or culture of the sport. I was physically present for my client’s interview. I have verbatim notes of the interview. Tom made himself available for nearly an entire day and patiently answered every question. It was clear to me the investigators had limited understanding of professional football. For reasons unknown, the Wells report omitted nearly all of Tom’s testimony, most of which was critical because it would have provided this report with the context that it lacks. Mr. Wells promised back in January to share the results of this investigation publicly, so why not follow through and make public all of the information gathered and let the public draw its own conclusions?
“This report contains significant and tragic flaws, and it is common knowledge in the legal industry that reports like this generally are written for the benefit of the purchaser.”
There are claims here that we can’t judge either way—the Wells Report went out of its way, for example, to note how uncooperative Brady was with the investigation, and when his testimony does appear, the Wells Report authors call Brady’s denial “not plausible and contradicted by other evidence.”
But there are things that are undeniably correct. These commissioned reports often have pressure to justify their employers’ outlays. And if the Colts tipped off the NFL to the deflated-ball scheme before the AFC Championship Game, why did officials still allow it to happen? The Wells Report still leaves a lot of questions—enough for Patriots fans to find reasonable doubt, and perhaps enough for Tom Brady to escape suspension.