After an intensive four-month investigation of Deflategate – the mysterious use of under-inflated footballs during the AFC Championship Game between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts – the National Football League says:
It is “more probable than not” that Patriots employees participated in deflating the balls, and that Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady was "at least generally aware" of the activity.
Now that the investigation is over, probably, many have taken to Twitter to express their view of the report. What remains to be seen is how this investigation will affect the NFL, and what, if any, disciplinary action will be taken against the Patriots.
Independent investigator Ted Wells submitted the report Wednesday. The 243-page report is available in its entirety, but the NFL highlighted its major findings on its website:
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.”
The report continues to say it is likely that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, along with the other coaching staff, were not involved in any activity surrounding the deflated footballs. Mr. Brady, however, was not exonerated in the investigation.
Multiple texts amongst Mr. McNally and Mr. Jastremski suggest the possibility of intentionally deflating footballs. Texts between the men and Brady also increased starting January 19, when suspicion arose. At one point, Brady texted Jasremski, “You good Jonny boy?” to which Jastremski replied, “Still nervous, so far so good though,” reported Business Insider.
At the time, Brady denied any knowledge or wrongdoing regarding the deflated footballs.
“I would never do anything to break the rules,” Brady said, reported USA Today. “I believe in fair play, and I respect the league.”
Brady, the report said, declined to make any texts or emails available to the investigators.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement that he disagrees with the report’s findings.
“Throughout the process of this nearly four-month long investigation, we have cooperated and patiently awaited its outcome. To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship Game, would be a gross understatement,” Kraft said, according to the NFL.
While Brady has yet to respond to the report, his father told USA Today:
I don't have any doubt about my son's integrity — not one bit. In this country, you're innocent until proven guilty. It just seems Tommy is now guilty until proven innocent ... This thing is so convoluted ... They say that possibly — possibly — he was aware of this. The reality is if you can't prove he did it, then he's innocent, and lay off him. That's the bottom line.
Multiple people have gone to Twitter with their accusations and frustration.
Now that the findings are out, what’s next? Alex Covone of Insider Sports Network said based on the findings, McNally, Jastremski, and Brady could all face disciplinary action. But how severe?
“Could we see a fine, or perhaps could we witness NFL icon Brady watching the season opener rather than playing in it?” Mr. Covone asked.