Wells Report: Probable that Brady conspired with staffers to deflate balls

Ted Wells released the results of his 103-day investigation into the under-inflation of footballs used by the New England Patriots in the AFC title game on Wednesday, also known colloquially as "Deflategate." The report found, in relevant part, that while Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and other higher-ups in the Patriots organization were not responsible for and not aware of footballs being tampered with, Officials Locker Room Attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski did conspire to deflate footballs to a level that was not in compliance with NFL rules, and that it was more likely than not that they did so with the knowledge and approval of quarterback Tom Brady.

The report exhaustively details the evidence, as well it how it was acquired, over the course of 243 pages. We have excerpted a few sections below to highlight some particularly relevant details.

The conclusion:

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.

Parties presumed responsible:

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.

Some of the evidence:

In the weeks and months before the AFC Championship Game, McNally periodically exchanged text messages with the Patriots equipment assistant primarily responsible for the preparation of the Patriots game balls, John Jastremski. In a number of those text messages, McNally and Jastremski discussed the air pressure of Patriots game balls, Tom Brady?s unhappiness with the inflation level of Patriots game balls, Jastremski?s plan to provide McNally with a “needle” for use by McNally, and McNally?s requests for “cash” and sneakers together with the “needle” to be provided by Jastremski. A sports ball inflation needle is a device that can be used to inflate a football (if attached to an air pump) or release air from a football (if inserted alone into a ball).

There are also multiple passages (Summarized on Pages 126-130) detailing the communications between Brady and Jastremski, as well as between McNally and Jastremski in which they refer to Brady, which lend credence to the idea that Brady was aware of, if not the driving force behind the deflation of footballs. (The report states that it is more likely than not that Brady was "at least generally aware" of the practice.)

Tom Brady was 'at least generally aware' of the practice of deflating footballs. (Getty Images)

Brady refused to provide text messages, emails and relevant phone records, so the report instead relied on the communications between McNally and Jastremski, as well as Brady's well-documented preference for footballs inflated to the absolute minimum required amount (shown through interviews and supposed conversations with McNally and Jastremski, and his efforts to spearhead a 2006 rule change that allowed quarterbacks to provide their own footballs for games) and an interview with Bob Costas in which he stated it was unlikely that Patriots personnel would deflate footballs unless they knew it was his preference, to show his awareness of the practice.

McNally referred to himself in text messages to himself as "the deflator," expressed frustration and stress with his efforts to get the footballs to Brady's specifications and requested sneakers and other signed memorabilia from Jastremski in exchange for performing the deflation services.

According to the report, Brady and Jastremski had not communicated by phone for six months before the "Deflategate" story broke. In the follwing three days, they spoke by phone at least six times. Brady also invited Jastremski into the "QB room" in Gillette Stadium (referred to as "essentially Brady's office) for the first time in his 20-year career that week, according to the report.

The report also stated (Page 130) that though some of the deflation could be explained by the cold, as many had asserted, "the reduction in pressure of the Patriots game balls cannot be explained completely by basic scientific principles, such as the Ideal Gas Law, based on the circumstances and conditions likely to have been present on the day of the AFC Championship Game."

The New England Patriots released a statement on the findings, which read in part, "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."

"While I respect the independent process of the investigation, the time, effort and resources expended to reach this conclusion are incomprehensible to me," Patriots CEO Robert Kraft said. "Knowing that there is no real recourse available, fighting the league and extending this debate would prove to be futile. We understand and greatly respect the responsibility of being one of 32 in this league and, on that basis, we will accept the findings of the report and take the appropriate actions based on those findings as well as any discipline levied by the league."

According to ESPN, the NFL is considering discipline for Brady, McNally and Jastremski, and a punishment is "days" away.

CBS Sports Writer

Jared Dubin is a New York lawyer and writer. He joined CBSSports.com in 2014 and has since spent far too much of his time watching film and working in spreadsheets. Full Bio

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