Wells Report: Patriots Likely Deflated Balls On Purpose [Updates]

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It seems like so long ago, we were talking about ethics in deflated balls. Ted Wells released his investigation into the Patriots’ tampering of the footballs today. The 243-page document can be found here.

The report’s conclusions believe it’s “more probable than not” that Patriots personnel tried to break the rules, and that Tom Brady was likely aware of the practice of deflating balls.

An excerpt:

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.


We do not believe that the evidence establishes that any other Patriots personnel participated in or had knowledge of the violation of the Playing Rules or the deliberate effort to circumvent the rules described in this Report. In particular, we do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots ownership, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick or any other Patriots coach in the matters investigated. We also do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots Head Equipment Manager Dave Schoenfeld.


As for the kicking ball introduced during the second half, the report finds that the Patriots didn’t intentionally try to switch balls.

Based on the evidence, the investigation has further concluded that that there was no deliberate attempt by the Patriots to introduce to the playing field a non-approved kicking ball during the AFC Championship Game. Although Patriots personnel provided a kicking ball to game officials that did not have the distinctive inspection mark of the referee, we find that the Patriots personnel involved believed the ball to be authentic and appropriate. We do not believe that there was any attempt by Patriots personnel, including Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, to deliberately circumvent the rules by offering the kicking ball for play.

We’ll be updating this post as we go through the report. If you find anything interesting, put it in the comments.

Update (1:33 p.m.): There are some quality texts between Patriots locker room attendant Jim McNally and Patriots equipment assistant John Jastremski:


Update (1:45 p.m.): In a statement on the Patriots’ site, owner Bob Kraft said he was “disappointed” in the report’s findings.


Update (1:50 p.m.): Page 18 of the report presents evidence that Brady was aware of the deflated balls, and talked to Jastremski over the phone multiple times after the scandal broke:

Additional evidence of Brady‟s awareness includes a material increase in the frequency of telephone and text communications between Brady and Jastremski shortly after suspicions of ball tampering became public on January 19. After not communicating by telephone or text message for more than six months (based on data retrieved from Jastremski‟s cell phone), Brady and Jastremski spoke by telephone at least twice 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. These calls included conversations relatively early during the mornings of January 19 (7:26 a.m. for 13 minutes and 4 seconds), January 20 (8:22 a.m. for 6 minutes and 21 seconds) and January 21 (7:38 a.m. for 13 minutes and 47 seconds). Brady also took the unprecedented step of inviting Jastremski to the QB room (essentially Brady‟s office) in Gillette Stadium on January 19 for the first and only time that Jastremski can recall during his twenty-year career with the Patriots, and Brady sent Jastremski text messages seemingly designed to calm Jastremski (“You good Jonny boy?”; “You doing good?”). For his part, Jastremski sent Brady text messages confirming that he was okay (“Still nervous; so far so good though”) and cautioning Brady about questioning (“FYI...Dave will be picking your brain later about it. He‟s not accusing me, or anyone...trying to get to bottom of it. He knows it‟s unrealistic you did it yourself...”).


Update (2:14 p.m.): Pages 29-30 of the report explain that the league acquired text messages from “Patriots-provided mobile phones,” which means Jastremski and McNally were just talking about the stuff they did on work phones:

The NFL retained Renaissance Associates, an investigative firm with extensive forensic expertise, to retrieve data (including text messages, contact information and telephone call logs) from the Patriots-provided mobile phones of certain Patriots personnel. These mobile phones were provided directly to Renaissance Associates by the Patriots. The Patriots also 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.


Update (3:23 p.m.): Colts GM Ryan Grigson and equipment manager Sean Sullivan were aware of the Patriots’ tendency to mess with balls, and warned the NFL a day before the AFC title game.


Photo: Matt Slocum/AP

Contact the author at samer@deadspin.com.