Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended from playing the first four games of the upcoming NFL season for his involvement in the notorious Deflategate. The Patriots have also been fined $1 million and removed from a first-round draft pick in 2016.
“We reached these decisions after extensive discussion with [NFL Executive Vice President] Troy Vincent and many others,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said. “We relied on the critical importance of protecting the integrity of the game and the thoroughness and independence of the Wells report.”
An NFL-commissioned report released Wednesday said that “it is more probable than not” that Patriots’ personnel did in fact deflate the team’s footballs during the playoff game against the Colts. The report also claims that Tom Brady — who was later named Super Bowl MVP — was “generally aware” of such inappropriate activities.
The report points to ongoing text message conversations between locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski about plans to deflate the team’s balls that dates back to October 2014. It also alleges that prior to the championship game, Jastremski had taken the game balls into a bathroom for one minute and 40 seconds.
“Based on a series of simulations,” the report says, “[Consultant] Exponent determined that the air pressure in thirteen footballs could be readily released using a needle in well under one minute and forty seconds.”
After the Colts complained that several of the game footballs were underinflated, the NFL confirmed that 11 out of 12 were under the required 12.5 and 13.5 psi measurement.
The report states that a “contrary conclusion requires the acceptance of an implausible number of communications and events as benign coincidences.”
Patriots CEO and Chairman Robert Kraft initially responded to the report:
“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.”