CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog

'Deflategate' Report: Pats Staff Altered Balls, Tom Brady Likely Knew

An investigation into whether the New England Patriots illegally deflated game balls from last year's AFC Championship Game says it's "more probable than not" that team personnel altered the balls and quarterback Tom Brady was likely involved.

The full report, conducted by an outside law firm at the NFL's request, can be seen below. It includes text messages between Pats staffers discussing altering the inflation of game balls, as well as calls and texts between staff and Brady immediately after news of the scandal broke.

Inflated Charges?

The revelations from NFL's "Deflategate" investigation is that Patriots staff members altered the inflation of game balls, almost certainly at quarterback Tom Brady's request, is not all that surprising. Although Brady vehemently denied participation of knowledge of underinflated balls and head coach Bill Belichick gave a physics lesson on thermodynamics in an attempt to explain why the balls were underinflated, a legion of former and current QBs and kickers admitted to doctoring balls and paying others to doctor balls for them.

So why the investigation? It could be the Patriots history of cheating or their history of success. Or because, according to Ted Wells's report below, the Colts warned officials before the game that the Patriots tend to doctor game balls:

As far as the gameballs are concerned it is well known around the league that after the Patriots gameballs are checked by the officials and brought out for game usage the ballboys for the patriots will let out some air with a ball needle because their quarterback likes a smaller football so he can grip it better.

Even when anyone and everyone is monkeying with the game balls, it appears the Patriots were taking it a step further than other teams.

It's Never the Crime ...

It's the coverup. While he was making numerous public denials, the report shows Brady privately trying to cover his tracks with one of the staffers. There were numerous calls from Brady to equipment assistant John Jastremski immediately after news of the deflated balls was made public, and:

Brady also took the unprecedented step of inviting Jastremski to the QB room (essentially Brady's office) in Gillette Stadium on January 19 for the first and only time that Jastremski can recall during his twenty-year career with the Patriots, and Brady sent Jastremski text messages seemingly designed to calm Jastremski ("You good Jonny boy?"; "You doing good?"). For his part, Jastremski sent Brady text messages confirming that he was okay ("Still nervous; so far so good though") and cautioning Brady about questioning ("FYI...Dave will be picking your brain later about it. He's not accusing me, or anyone...trying to get to bottom of it. He knows it's unrealistic you did it yourself...").

It's doubtful that the NFL will retroactively punish the team, and I would say the Patriots public image would take a hit, but most fans had their minds made up already.

Here's the full report:

Investigative Report Concerning Footballs Used During the AFC Championship Game on January 18, 2015 by FindLaw