[A phone rings. Tom Brady rolls over lazily in his custom hammock, hand-woven from snow leopard hair, on the beach at The Secret Island For Rich People. He recognizes the custom ringtone: It is the theme from The Pink Panther. He picks up.
“They got us, Tommy. They figured out we did it.”
“You’re kidding. They did?”
“Well, they found that it was more probable than not. Oh, and I should probably apologize for some text messages.”
Tom Brady hangs up, adjusts his fedora and sunglasses, rolls over, and goes back to sleep to the lullaby of the soft, gentle wash of the waves.]
Finally, we probably know what happened. Finally, the mystery has probably been solved. Ted Wells spent four months working his independent investigation of Deflategate, and it’s a doozy — 243 pages, exhaustively detailed, filled with evidence and timelines and texts of Patriots employees insulting Tom Brady. The employees were not very good at insulting Tom Brady.
Patriots locker room attendant Jim McNally: Tom sucks...im going make that next ball a f----- balloon
Patriots equipment assistant John Jastremski: Talked to him last night. He actually brought you up and said you must have a lot of stress trying to get them done ...
McNally: F--- tom ... make sure the pump is attached to the needle ... f----- watermelons coming
Jastremski: So angry
McNally: The only thing deflating sun ... is his passing rating
McNally seems to be bargaining for cash and new shoes in exchange for deflating footballs, since as Jastremski puts it, “figured u should something since he gives u nothing.” McNally called himself “the deflator,” which as secret nicknames go could be improved upon. He says “im not going to espn........yet.”
These are definitely the kind of disciplined, sophisticated operators that you want to probably cheat with, as part of a high-stakes sports franchise worth billions and under scrutiny. McNally called himself the deflator before the season started, by the way.
Anyway, the Wells Report interviewed everyone, and found some ... discrepancies. Like, discrepancies you could drive a Vince Wilfork through. The Patriots used underinflated footballs during the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts, and once a linebacker for the Colts noticed, the investigations began. The Wells Report found that New England’s explanation that air pressure did it was not true, and coach Bill Belichick’s explanation that the balls might have been overinflated due to “vigorous rubbing” didn’t float, either.
McNally was interviewed after the game by NFL Security, and again by the investigation. It was not airtight.
“With respect to his decision to use the bathroom, McNally claimed that he has used the bathroom near the field entrance while in possession of the game balls many times. He said that on the day of the AFC Championship Game, he entered the bathroom, dropped the ball bags to his left, and used the urinal to his right. That bathroom, however, does not contain a urinal.”
The Wells Report didn’t believe McNally when he said he often takes the balls without the officials being OK with it, and that he often took the balls into that bathroom. (Gross, Jim.) Investigators didn’t believe McNally and Jastremski’s claim that the text messages were only jokes, and referred to nothing in the real world. They didn’t believe that Brady’s frequent phone conversations with Jastremski, which increased after the Deflategate broke, were a coincidence. They didn’t believe it when Brady claimed not to know McNally’s name, especially since Jastremski and McNally mentioned that Brady knew McNally.
Oh, and the investigation said the Patriots weren’t fully co-operative, amid a pile of other probable lies. It mentions that Belichick asked Brady point blank whether he knew anything about tampering with footballs, and Brady told him, “Absolutely not.” And Belichick believed him.
If you read this report and are not an unreasonable person, you would conclude that based on the evidence, Tom Brady cheated, Tom Brady lied, the guys Tom Brady cheated with lied, and they didn’t tell the coach. The organization has tried to cover it up, and won the Super Bowl not because they cheated in this particular way but because the Seattle Seahawks threw on first-and-goal to a guy who caught 11 balls last season. They didn’t need to cheat like this, but they did, because it was worth it to them. It wasn’t exactly a crack operation, but it got a job done.
When asked about Deflategate by Julie Loncich of WBZ in Boston, Rob Gronkowski apparently just flexed, over and over. He’ll be president, one day.
And the result: Brady maybe gets suspended a game, the doofuses get suspended or fired, there are fines. None of it changes anything, in the big picture, except that a new form of cheating will have to be devised. Maybe magnets or something.
But if these doofuses could pull off cheating for over a year, get caught in obvious lies, leave text message evidence, impede NFL investigators, and come out of it with a report that cannot definitively say they cheated, then it raises some questions. First: Why wouldn’t you cheat, any way you could? Second: Who else is cheating, with their doofuses, trying to gain an angle in this merciless league? Third: Imagine if the NFL spent this much time and effort investigating how it handles concussions, and tried for the truth. What a world that would be.