NEW YORK — An NFL investigation has found that New England Patriots employees likely deflated footballs and that quarterback Tom Brady was "at least generally aware" of the rules violations.
The NFL began the investigation after the Patriots won the AFC Championship game in January, when the Indianapolis Colts complained that several footballs were under inflated.
The 243-page report released Wednesday said league investigators found no evidence that coach Bill Belichick and team management knew of the practice.
To read the full report -
Highlights of Wells Report:
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.
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.
On removal of footballs from Officials Locker Room:
According to (Walt) Anderson and other members of the officiating crew for the AFC Championship Game, the removal of the game balls from the Officials Locker Room by (Jim) McNally without the permission of the referee or another game official was a breach of standard operating pre-game procedure.
On analysis of footballs during halftime of AFC Championship Game:
At halftime, under Riveron's supervision, two alternate game officials (Clete Blakeman and Dyrol Prioleau) tested eleven Patriots game balls and four Colts game balls. The Patriots ball intercepted by the Colts was not among the eleven Patriots balls tested. Each official used a separate air pressure gauge provided by referee Anderson that Anderson had brought with him to the game, one of which also had been used by Anderson for his pre-game inspection. Each of the eleven Patriots balls tested at halftime measured below the minimum 12.5 psi level established by the Playing Rules on both gauges. Each of the four Colts balls tested measured within the permissible 12.5 to 13.5 psi range on at least one of the gauges. The measurements were recorded in writing by
Richard Farley, an NFL security official who has been assigned to the Patriots and Gillette Stadium for approximately twelve years. Only four Colts balls were tested because the officials were running out of time before the start of the second half.
On interview of Jim McNally following AFC Championship Game:
Following the game, before he left the stadium, McNally was interviewed by members of NFL Security. During that interview, McNally did not mention that he had taken the game balls into the bathroom. Instead, he stated that he walked directly to the field and that nothing unusual occurred during the walk from the locker room to the field. In subsequent interviews, McNally provided varying explanations for the bathroom stop and his decision not to utilize readily available bathroom facilities in the Officials Locker Room and adjacent Chain Gang Locker Room.
On Tom Brady's knowledge of who Jim McNally was and what his role with the team was:
During his interview, Brady denied any knowledge of or involvement in any efforts to deflate game balls after the pre-game inspection by the game officials. He 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 role relating to game balls or the game officials. We found these claims not plausible and contradicted by other evidence.
In fact, during his interview, Jastremski acknowledged that Brady knew McNally and McNally's role as Officials Locker Room attendant. Similarly, McNally told NFL Security that he had been personally told by Brady of Brady's inflation level preference.
As discussed above, Brady?s refusal to provide us with his own emails, text messages and phone records on relevant topics, in response to our narrowly tailored requests, limited the evidence available for our review and analysis. We believe that our findings are nevertheless supported by the evidence and information available to us during the course of our work.
Cox Media Group