The Wells Report and Deflategate penalties came down this week and it has caused QUITE the ruckus on my Facebook page with every hater of Patriots nation being very vocal about the report and results. And while I didn’t like the punishment or the report, I really, really didn’t like how many people only read the headlines and ignored a lot of the facts. So here’s a not-quick-at-all-can-barely-be-called-a-summary of what people are getting wrong:
1. Football tampering is SUPER important to the integrity of the game
Instances the NFL did not care about football tampering:
Panthers at Vikings, 2014 – Sideline cameras showed (Evidence! Actual evidence!) both Panthers and Vikings football attendants warming up game balls on the sidelines with a heater. That is changing the air pressure in the footballs and considering tampering and illegal. Both teams were issued a warning. A warning.
San Diego Chargers, 2012 – The Chargers were investigated for having an adhesive substance on towels and using those towels on the game footballs. They were fined $20,000 after the equipment manager did not give over the towels. Hm…an uncooperative equipment manager? The Patriots equipment manager was accused of being uncooperative in the Wells Report because he was not available for a FIFTH interview. He has a day job and offered to do it by phone, but Wells refused. And the Chargers were merely fined 20K and this story was never covered by The Today Show.
Patriots vs Colts, 2015 – What’s that you say? The NFL didn’t care about football tampering during The Game? The Colts went to the NFL to warn them about under inflated footballs and the NFL didn’t take the accusation seriously. They didn’t even record the footballs original PSI! No recordings even after they had been warned something might be up? And speaking of PSI levels…
And please don’t tell me about the junk science article you read about the Patriots fumbling record. Not everything you read on the internet is true.
2.The Science of PSI
- The football pressure was not recorded before the game. Even after the heads up. So we have to take their word for it that the Colts started at 13 PSI and the Pats at 12.5. What if the Colts started at 13.5 or 13.25? Then the difference between the Patriots and the Colts PSI isn’t significant and definitely attributable to weather.
- One of the Colts footballs measured at 12.95 at half time. And we’re supposed to believe it started at 13? Every other Patriots AND Colts football dropped significantly in the cold weather except that one? In my opinion, it’s more probable than not that the Colts football started at higher than 13 PSI.
- Two different gauges were used, and the official (Anderson) couldn’t recall which one he used for sure, but “believes he used the logo gauge” (the logo gauge is the one that recorder higher, .3-.45). But the Wells Report states “it’s more probable than not that Anderson used the non-logo gauge.” The gauges were different by .3 to .45. A huge difference when you’re talking these numbers. So The Wells Report decided to report what fit THEIR narrative even though its printed in the report that when interviewed, Anderson said he thinks he used the Logo gauge.
- Eleven of the Patriots footballs were retested. Four of the Colts were retested, AFTER the Patriots were done. So for almost 15 minutes the Colts footballs were warming up in the nice, heated locker room while the Patriots footballs were checked. If you are currently thinking, “oh come on, you’re reaching…” add that small temperature change in PSI, with the change of using different gauges, with the change of not knowing exactly where the Colts footballs started? It adds up. Also. Small sample size much?
- In conclusion: No baseline was established for the footballs, different gauges were used, subjects tested at different times, and a different amount of test subjects. My seventh grade science teachers says that is NOT how you prove a hypothesis.
3. Text Messages
- There is absolutely no mention in those texts that Brady instructed anyone to go less than 12.5 PSI on the footballs. Zero. In fact, the only time a PSI is mentioned, the equipment manager says “I just measured some of the balls. They supposed to be 13 lbs… They were like 16. Felt like bricks”
- The texts are from months before the AFC Championship, and mostly concern a Jets game were Brady was angry at the equipment manager for not getting the footballs to where Brady preferred. The texts indicate the footballs were closer to 16 PSI. No wonder Brady was angry. Numerous NFL quarterbacks have come forward and said that it is totally normal to want the footballs exactly how they feel best. Aaron Rodgers even admitted to wanting them OVER the legal amount, and purposely pushing the limits.
- If you read the texts and are convinced Brady asked the equipment managers to go below 12.5 PSI, that can be concluded by what you read. If you read the texts and assume he is just riding them hard to get the footballs exactly like he wants them (12.5) then you can conclude that as well.
4. Uncooperative Patriots and Brady?
The NFL seems to be touting this line from their penalty letter that “the failure to cooperate in the subsequent investigation” was one of the reasons for the harsh penalty. And that seems silly because the Wells Report stated “The Patriots provided substantial cooperation throughout the investigation.” Huh. So this must be all about Brady’s reluctance to pass over his cell and emails? Because if I was Brady there is no way I would ever give over my cell and emails. We live in a world where everything leaks. The CIA gets hacked and you want me to trust you my personal cell records because you’re on a witch hunt? Absolutely not. His right to privacy is just as sacred as yours or mine.
5. Draft Picks and Fines
The Wells Report clearly states that Bill Belichick and the Patriots organization as a whole did nothing wrong: “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.” So…why the exorbitant fine and TWO draft picks targeting the entire organization? The Atlanta Falcons AS AN ORGANIZATION cheated for TWO seasons by pumping in crowd noise. That is something that effects every single play called by the opposing offense if they cannot hear. And the Falcons were fined a mere $350,000 and a fifth round draft pick. And those charges were proven. Not “probably.” Not “generally aware.”
6. A Culture of Cheating
This one REALLY bothers me, primarily because most people haven’t even bothered to read this blog post all the way through and educate themselves about what they’re talking about. First off, most people get the facts of SpyGate so wrong that it’s absurd. Opposing fans love to throw it around and yet most have no clue what happened. I still have people, who I used to think were at least informed NFL fans, posting on my Facebook wall that the Patriots taped an opposing team’s practice. That is unequivocally false. In fact, the Boston Herald had to publish a full, front page story apologizing for printing that story without any evidence. I might need to write an entire “Facts about SpyGate” post because people still don’t get it. Anyways. Culture of cheating? Do the Ravens have a culture of felonies because Ray Lewis was accused of killing someone about ten years ago too? And Ray Rice then knocked out his fiancé in an elevator (this is where I insert the obligatory: And Ray Rice originally got a two game suspension for it?!)? And if you think whatever team you are a fan of has never done any against the rules? You’re wrong.
7. Media and Public Opinion
As I stated in February, the public and media care more about the Patriots than any other team because they win. A lot. So this story is going to make The Today Show, and casual fans are going to decide the Patriots cheated. Because they’re not reading the Wells Report. They’re reading the headlines. And the opposing fans are forgetting “innocent until proven guilty” because it’s convenient. The Wells Report, with language like “more probably than not” and “generally aware” is not convincing and nor should it be. But they didn’t have to convince – they had to construct a narrative that makes sure the NFL doesn’t look stupid (not recording the original PSI? really? I’m stuck on that) because the NFL is their boss (millions of dollars of billable hours to this company that once “proved” in court that tobacco doesn’t cause cancer) and enable the NFL to once again make an example of the Patriots. Tom Brady was absolutely not caught cheating.
Here’s the thing. Bill Belichick was made an example of because he made a mockery of Roger Goodell by disobeying a rule that has been put in place THAT YEAR that prohibited videotaping from the sidelines. So Goodell made an example of him. I understand. Tom Brady is being made an example of because of two things – he did not take this seriously enough at first. He laughed and the NFL did not. He probably had a PR guy in his ear that said “admit nothing, say nothing, this will go away.” And it did not. And he did not cooperate by handing over his cell and email, even after submitting to a six hour interview, in person. So that’s apparently not cooperating.
My parting general questions:
- Seriously though – you were warned the footballs might be altered and you didn’t record the PSI? Really.
- Where are the other quarterbacks now? Don’t want the NFL to come knocking on your door? Because Rodgers made that comment about wanting his footballs above the legal limit BEFORE deflategate was ever a thing. He flippantly talked about it with an NFL commentator like it was no big deal. Because altering a football isn’t a big deal apparently if Rodgers, the Vikings, the Panthers or the Chargers do it.
- Most importantly: The equipment manager and ball boys never said they deflated the balls after they were checked. Why not? They had said terrible things about essentially their boss (they really, really hated on Tom Brady in those text messages because he was so demanding) and admitted trying to take free sneakers and clothes. They must have known as soon as those texts were released they’d lose their jobs. Why not admit it? One of them is a part time employee! Surely if he deflated footballs in a bathroom he would just admit it when he had nothing to lose.
I stick by this thought, originally from February:
And just to make this clear – if this was sanctioned by anyone in the Patriots organization, it is absolutely wrong and I agree they should be punished for it. But the punishment should fit the crime… and at this point, if they are found innocent of wrongdoing, will people even believe it?
I doubt it – because the court of public opinion has already ruled against them.
Because. They. Win.
Has the punishment fit the crime? Absolutely not. Has the crime been proven? Absolutely not.
This is a big deal because it is the Patriots. End of story. You’re deluding yourself if you think otherwise. Because I didn’t see this kind of coverage during the Falcons or Browns investigations this year. I didn’t even see this much coverage after the original Ray Rice video was released. Or Adrian Peterson. A man can beat his fiancé or child? But something that typically comes with a warning or a $25,000 fine is more important and warrants a several million dollar investigation? Where are the priorities?
Based on the evidence you’ve read above, do you think it’s fair to ruin a man’s reputation? Tom Brady’s legacy is forever tarnished by THIS? That makes me sick to my stomach because of the injustice. This is a media driven story with a narrative developed by a dislike for a team and fostered by an organization (NFL) that needed a scapegoat after a season of bad decisions. The NFL has gone so far off the rails that I personally think other NFL fans should be upset (they’re not, because #patriothate). And I think Roger Goodell will eventually lose his job over this. Because you can’t make up the rules as you go and expect to just lay the hammer down on the last guy you happen to want to make an example of after an entire season of mishandling sensitive subjects like child abuse and domestic violence.
Obviously I am a Patriots fan. But I’m also an educated adult who believes I can see clearly. The “crime” is equivalent to using pine tar or stickum. It’s a misdemeanor. It should not be done, but I’m not calling Brady a cheater any more than I’d call Jerry Rice a cheater for stickum. If the equipment manager or ball boy someday comes forward and says, “Yes, I let air out of the footballs in the bathroom after they were checked and Tom Brady specifically told me to” then I’ll come right back here and say Tom Brady did it, without a need for a videotape or text message. But right now? The evidence is not there. And if I am going to ruin a Hall of Fame quarterback’s reputation and brand him a cheater, I’m going to need more than “generally aware” and “more probable than not.”
Like I said. Not a brief summary. But then again, the Patriots didn’t exactly summarize their defense either. If you got this far, thanks for sticking around.