During Tuesday's conference call with Ted Wells and other investigators involved in the Deflategate case, one of the questions asked -- about the gauges used to measure footballs before the AFC title game -- provided a confusing answer.
Because the AFC Championship Game referee Walt Anderson could not pinpoint which gauge he used to measure Patriots game footballs before kickoff, the measurements taken at halftime and provided in the Wells Report were thrown into some question.
How would it be possible to tell just how much footballs deflated during the first half outdoors at Gillette Stadium if it's unclear what the baseline was before the game?
Because there were two different gauges available to Anderson, and because they provided significantly different readings on the same footballs at halftime, it was not necessarily apparent that the deflation seen in the Patriots game balls was due to some inappropriate activity by Patriots employees.
It could have been science, as Patriots coach Bill Belichick theorized in a press conference during the week following the AFC Championship. Had the Wells Report chosen to focus on the halftime readings of one particular gauge -- the one that provided the higher air-pressure readings -- the inflation levels of eight of the 11 Patriots footballs measured fell in the range that would have been expected according to the Ideal Gas Law.
When Wells was asked about the gauges during his conference call, he allowed his partner Lorin Reisner to respond.
"The question of which gauge was used by Walt Anderson before the game -- it just doesn’t affect any of the ultimate conclusions," Reisner said. "The difference in the pressure drops between the two teams was found to be statistically significant regardless of the gauge used."
Air-pressure drops between the two teams may have been difficult to gauge because 11 Patriots footballs were measured and only four Colts footballs were measured at halftime that night, but Wells did not hit on the discrepancy in the amount of data available to his team of investigators and how could have affected the numbers. (The Wells Report states that because of time constraints -- the second half was about to begin -- not all Colts footballs could be measured.)
In the Wells Report, Anderson says it was his best recollection that he used the gauge that may have proved Patriots footballs were deflated because of the ideal gas law -- the gauge that provided higher air-pressure readings.
But because he wasn't absolutely certain, and based off of some scientific research conducted as part of the report, Wells found that Anderson had actually used the other gauge.
Why was it necessary for the Wells team to go to such lengths to show that Anderson used a gauge other than the one he thought he had used? And why, after going to such lengths, would investigators then say that it doesn't matter which gauge was used?
Tuesday's call provided no detailed answers in that regard.
"It really doesn’t matter," Reisner said, "because regardless of which gauges were used, the scientific consultants addressed all the permutations in the analysis."