Although Tom Brady continues to fight it, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the National Football League and reinstated his four-game suspension for Deflategate. In the last 15 months there has been much discussion, debate and legal wrangling over the alleged deflation of footballs in the 2015 AFC Championship game when the New England Patriots beat the Indianapolis Colts. Brady, I believe, is the most well-liked athlete in all of Boston sports. Because of his reputation, I think, fans are blinded to the fact that Brady is guilty. Before and during the 2015 AFC Championship game, Brady most definitely directed team equipment managers John Jastremski and Jim McNally to tamper with the psi of the game balls. I have read the Ted Wells report, which is the investigative report concerning footballs used during the game and that report is what NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell used to justify Brady’s suspension. Not many people have read the entire report, resulting in uneducated opinions on Deflategate. Based on my reading of the report, here’s why I believe Tom Brady should be suspended.
Pregame of the AFC championship game: Jim McNally has been employed by the Patriots for 32 years as a seasonal equipment manager. His responsibility is to deliver both teams’ game footballs to the officials’ locker room. Once brought into the locker room, the game referees use an air pump gauge to measure the psi of all 12 footballs that each team will use during the game. All game balls must be inflated between 12.5 psi and 13.5 psi. Once both teams’ balls were within the legal limit, they were ready to be taken to the field. McNally took the balls to the field without the consent of any of the officials, passing a bathroom on his way out of the officials’ locker room. This is something head official Walt Anderson said he had not seen in his 19-year career. Right before entering the field and out of sight of the officials, McNally took the balls into a bathroom which locks from the inside. He was in the bathroom for exactly one minute and 40 seconds. A study was done within the Wells Report to see if 11 footballs could be deflated in the time McNally was in the bathroom. Results showed that all people who participated in the study finished well under one minute and forty seconds, showing that McNally very well could have deflated the 11 balls while in the bathroom.
Half time of the AFC Championship game: During the second quarter, Colts linebacker D’Qwell Jackson intercepted a pass thrown by Brady. The football that was intercepted was brought to the Colts sideline and Colts officials felt that the ball was under-inflated. They requested at halftime that all footballs be tested for their psi level. Referees Clete Blakeman and Dyrol Prioleau tested the psi of the Patriots footballs and the results are in the chart below. Remember the legal amount of psi is between 12.5 and 13.5.
Only four of the Colts footballs could be tested during halftime due to time constraints and all four of them measured between 12.5 and 13.5 psi on at least one of the two gauges used by Blakeman and Prioleau. A common argument is that because of the cold and rainy conditions, the balls were naturally deflated. The ideal gas law does not support that argument. Besides, if the weather was a factor, then why were only the Patriots’ balls under the limit? If the conditions were the reason for the loss of air pressure, both teams’ balls would have been deflated. The facts from the halftime tests show it was only the Patriots’ footballs which were deflated.
Communication between McNally and Jastremski: On October 17, 2014, following a game against the New York Jets, Brady expressed to Jastremski and McNally how he disliked the inflation of game balls. The following quotes are from text messages between Mcnally and Jastremski. Jastremski: “Talked to him last night. He actually brought you up and said you must have have a lot of stress trying to get them done…” Talking to McNally, Jastremski refers to Tom Brady as “him,” indicating Brady told Jastremski to tell McNally to take more air out of the balls for next game. On October 23, 2014, Jastremski texted McNally: “Can’t wait to give you your needle this week :)” This obviously refers to McNally’s instructions to tamper with the air pressure of the game balls. The next day, Jastremski wrote, “I have a big needle for u this week.” McNally replied: “Better be surround by cash and newnicks….or its a rugby sunday.” Jastremski then texted:“Maybe u will have some nice size 11s in ur locker.” When interviewed in the Wells Report, both said that giving rewards (like “cash,” “new kicks” and “size 11s”) were a joke and McNally never received any extra benefits. Lastly on January 10, 2015, McNally texted: “You working;” Jastremski replied: “Yup;” McNally answered:“Nice dude….jimmy needs some kicks….lets make a deal…..come on help the deflator.” Jim McNally refers to himself as the deflator. I don’t believe it can be any more clear that Tom Brady was definitely aware and instructed Jastremski to have McNally tamper with the psi of game footballs. Once the story about the footballs broke to the media and became a big headline, Brady and Jastremski contacted each other at least once over a three-day period. Prior to the story breaking, they rarely communicated but once the news broke, they began to talk much more. Some of the exact text messages contain explicit vocabulary but if you wish to read them, they can be found on pages 74-94 in the Wells Report.
Based on all these facts and many other specifics in the Wells Report, I think it’s clear that Tom Brady was aware of the illegal activity going on and instructed it to happen. However, I think Brady’s suspension of four games was much too significant of a penalty. Major offenses like domestic violence and illegal substance abuse are common illegal actions worthy of a four-game suspension. The league was absolutely correct in suspending Brady for his actions, but the length of the suspension is absolutely wrong.