It took three hours, two coffees and enough Adderall to satisfy the entire Seahawks secondary, but I made it through the Wells Report. And with that, here’s a quick summary of everything I most probably might have absolutely learned:
For starters, Tom Brady is an NFL quarterback who likes his footballs more deflated than inflated, and during a game last October against the Jets, he became particularly upset with the condition of said footballs. They were too big, and plump, and this made Brady angry because, again, he likes his footballs smaller . . . and less plump.
Yahoo's Dan Wetzel: Wells Report fails to prove guilt
The quarterback had previously voiced this preference to Pats’ equipment assistant John Jastremski, but it was hard for him to keep up when the referees were continually so careless on game day. In general, refs consistently failed to record pregame PSI levels and were supremely loose on protocol. In some cases, they simply inflated game balls to whatever level they arbitrarily deemed fit. At the very least, refs didn’t account for specific quarterback preferences, and that was inherently unfair. Seeing how we know that some quarterbacks like small footballs, and other quarterbacks like bigger footballs, randomly inflating along the PSI spectrum would leave one side at a random disadvantage.
In related news, balls from that Jets game were was found to be inflated at 16 PSI. That’s far higher than the legal maximum, and far higher than Brady was comfortable with. So again, he was pissed.
He consulted the rulebook and found that game balls were permitted to be as low as 12.5 PSI. In turn, he once again reached out to Jastremski and asked (or probably demanded) that future balls be maintained as low as legally possible.
There was nothing wrong with him doing this, by the way. If you gave MLB pitchers a choice between throwing a baseball or softball, they’d throw the baseball every time. All Brady wanted was a smaller, just as legal football.
Meanwhile, Jastremski was desperate to make Brady happy, because he wanted Brady to like him. Of course he did. We’re talking about Tom Brady. So, Jastremski recruited Officials’ Locker Room Attendant James McNally, a.k.a. the guy in charge of the game balls on game day. McNally had previously helped Jastremski under similar circumstances, but wasn’t a very eager participant. He had been with the Pats for more than 30 years. The novelty had worn off. He wasn’t honored to assist the great Tom Brady with some next level gamesmanship.
If anything, it was a chore.
Between the two attendants, McNally was undoubtedly the alpha male, and he got a kick out of teasing his co-worker. He knew how much the relationship with Brady meant to Jastremski, so as a ruse, McNally would verbally demean Brady, threaten to put MORE air in the balls; all as if to let Jastremski know: “Brady might be YOUR boss, but he’s got nothing on me.”
And so it went.
Every week —
1) Brady pestered Jastremski to make sure the balls were legally deflated and presented to the refs with as little air as the league allows.
2) Jastremski passively pestered McNally.
3) McNally teased and threatened Jastremski.
4) Jastremski floated out incentives like signed memorabilia and free Uggs — and ultimately McNally fell in line.
5) Before each home game, McNally (“The Deflator”) deflated balls down to 12.5 PSI, personally gave them to the refs, and reminded the lead official of Brady’s preference.
This is pretty much how it went down leading up to the AFC Championship, except this was the last home game of the season, and McNally only worked home games, so this was the last time he’d share the building with Brady until next year. By now, Jastremski had told Brady about the promises, and how it might be nice to acknowledge the work that McNally had done. So before the game, Brady invited both guys into the equipment room, and gave McNally two signed footballs and a signed jersey.
It was a simple gesture that Brady knew would go a long way, and he was happy to do it.
From there, McNally grabbed the balls, brought them to lead official Walt Anderson and reminded him about Brady’s desire to keep the PSI at or around 12.5. Anderson checked the balls, didn’t write down any of the results, and put them back in the bag. Soon after that, the start of the Patriots-Colts game was delayed 15 minutes because the NFC Championship Game was running late. It was chaos in the officials’ locker room. At one point, even though he wasn’t supposed to (maybe he was confused by the delay?), McNally grabbed the bag of balls and carried them out to the field — stopping only briefly along the way to use the bathroom.
In the second quarter, the Colts alerted the league to a potentially illegal ball in their possession. At halftime, NFL officials collected all the balls and tested all the PSI, and from there, well, the whole Wells Report is a messy blur — shoddy science projects, corrupt research firms, out-of-context and potentially edited text conversations. By the end, Wells concludes that it’s more probable than not that McNally and Jastremski participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls. He concluded that it is more probable than not that Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities.
But for all the probability that Wells spews out in this report, just know that the report itself is most definitely a joke, and an insult -- to Tom Brady, to the Patriots, and to you as a member of the human race.
And all because an innocent quarterback wanted to avoid getting stuck with another 16 PSI football?
Man, confirmation bias is a powerful drug.
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