GarbageTalk: Why The Wells Report Is Garbage
By now, everyone knows that Theodore V. Wells, Jr. of the white shoe New York law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison (whew that’s a long name) was hired to investigate the New England Patriots’ knowledge of and possibly participation in deflating footballs before the AFC Championship game against the Colts, which the Patriots handily won, 45-7. The Wells Report on Deflate-gate published on Wednesday, May 6, 2015, and concluded it was “more probable than not” that Jim McNally and John Jastremski deliberately released air from the Patriots footballs after they were examined by the referee and that Tom Brady was “at least generally aware” of these inappropriate activities. Those “conclusions,” in my mind, epitomize the hemming and hawing typical of an attorney.
Is this how Wells became known as one of “The Decade’s Most Influential Lawyers” by the National Law Journal? Seriously doubt it. As a trial attorney, you need conviction to be effective in front of a jury. While Wells might very well say, in a white collar criminal case, “it is more probable than not that my client is innocent and given the high burden of proof needed to establish guilt (of beyond a reasonable doubt) you must acquit,” in today’s court of public opinion, where a finding of “guilty” is immediate without reference to any standard, Well’s “conclusions” are irresponsible at best.
Reading between the lines, all the Wells Report says is that Tom Brady knew that he liked his footballs inflated to the low end of the league’s limit of 12.5 pounds per square inch (psi) and that he made his preference known to the Patriots crew. While the text messages between McNally and Jastremski paint Brady as a dick, this does not suggest any inappropriateness on Brady’s part. Wells does his best to create a sense of some wrongdoing based on the fact that the “conversations” started during the playoffs, it is just as likely that after a particular game, Brady was pissed that the footballs were over-inflated and felt like rugby balls and chewed his crew out. He then took steps to ensure Jastremski knew he liked his balls inflated to the lower end of the allowable spectrum (of 12.5 psi – 13.5 psi).
Does this mean that Brady instructed Jastremski and/or McNally to deflate the footballs after they had been inspected? No. Does this mean that Brady had an advantage because the balls were easier to throw and hold? No. Why? Look at when the Patriots scored the majority of their points in the AFC playoff game against the Colts … in the second half, with properly inflated balls.
Before I go on, rest assured, I am not a Pretty Boy Brady fan. He’s a smug s.o.b. Nevertheless, I am a football fan and appreciate that he is a great competitor. And when I think a report stinks, I’m gonna point it out.
What about the fact that the “deflator” wanted swag in the form of autographs and shoes (I assume Uggs)? This is just silly. If you work, how do you motivate your team to do the best job they can? You ensure their happiness, which Brady did in the form of signed footballs and Uggs. Is that any different from what Wells would do with his litigation team after a jury trial? I’m sure he takes his team out to celebrate a job well done. Maybe even a nice dinner. That’s just common sense.
Wells could very well have re-stated his conclusion as follows: “There is no evidence that Tom Brady knew that the Patriots crew deliberately deflated the footballs after they were inspected by the referee. While it is clear that Brady had discussions with his crew about inflation of footballs, it is unclear whether he participated in a scheme to ensure under-inflation of footballs for the game.”
Of course, it is possible that Wells’ conclusions are purposely worded as they are. Given his wishy-washy conclusions, Wells has empowered Roger Goodell to make whatever decision he wants … to punish or not punish Tom Brady. On the one hand, Goodell could say: “the evidence simply isn’t there to level a harsh punishment and so I’ll slap Tom with a two-game suspension.” Or Goodell could say: “the evidence is overwhelming … more likely than not Tom “generally” knew of something inappropriate and so he is going to sit out an entire year.” I’d like to see drafts of this Wells Report (I wonder if they qualify as privileged), and the wording of previous versions. I’d also like to know whether Goodell or anyone at the NFL participated in the wording of the conclusions … that’d be interesting.
My money is that Goodell will, at most, slap Brady with a light suspension and/or a fine. Why? Having exonerated Belichick and the coaches of the New England Patriots, it seems to me that it would be unfair to punish the entire team for something that Tom Brady may or may not have done. Making Brady sit out for an entire season would, however, punish the entire team. This situation is substantially different than what the New Orleans Saints did in putting a bounty on players, or the Altanta Falcons did in generating “fake” fan noise to thwart opposing teams’ efforts on offense, where there was a concerted team effort to win. And, as is clear from the Patriot’s season, they didn’t need to cheat to win.
As for his agent, Don Yee, I don’t really get the point he’s trying so hard to make … I guess that the NFL was on a witch-hunt and for some reason should have told the Patriots about their investigation before the AFC game? And this makes the Wells Report unfair, why? How does this show an attempt to frame the Patriots? I mean, if someone is cheating, they are cheating. If I want to know whether a class is cheating on exams I give them, I am not going to go in and tell the class “hey, I think you are cheating, here is the next exam, have at it.” Right?
And then there’s Gronk. Oh, Gronk. When you don’t have anything to say about Deflate-gate, the answer is not to talk about “the kids.” And then your biceps. And then a Snoop song.
Instead, just say, “no comment.”
As for what Brady should say to the media when he “digests” the report? Here you go Tom.
Tom Brady Media Script: As you know, Teddy Wells published a “report” on what’s come to be known as “Deflate-gate.” In it he suggests that it is more likely than not that I generally knew about inappropriate actions taken by the New England Patriots staff with footballs before the AFC Championship game. I’d like to just briefly address that.
As you know, Peyton Manning and I pushed to change the football preparation rule in 2006 to allow for home and visiting teams to prepare their own game balls to accommodate preferences of their individual quarterbacks. We were successful in that regard.
Further to that rule change, I have made it known among the Patriots staff in charge of preparing the game balls that I prefer my footballs to be on the lower end of the allowable range, which is 12.5 psi. That’s my preference, and I’m very particular about it. It’s why, before the playoffs I had conversations with John Jastremski. To ensure the game balls weren’t overinflated as they had been in a previous game. It’s why I went out of my way to ensure the guys inflating the balls were doing their job, by handing over signed footballs and Uggs. It’s the little things that matter and that help me perform at a high level.
Should I have to explain this all to you? No. I shouldn’t. [pause] But I feel as though I have to given the irresponsible and careless report authored by Mr. Wells and his team of lawyers.
Bottom line is that I’m disgusted with it and you should be too. All it does is try to tarnish my record, my image, my integrity, my team’s place in history. And with what? With what? Statements that say “it is more likely than not?” That say “I generally knew” something? It’s complete GARBAGE.
And with that, I’d like to give a shout-out to Football GarbageTalk and Football GarbageTime. Love your articles guys. That’s footballgarbagetime.com.
Well America … pretty boy Brady probably won’t read this, or give me a shout out, but he will have to address the media at some point. Will be interesting to hear what he has to say. Even more interesting, I think, is what Goodell is going to do … seems to me he is in a tough spot.
But, as I like to say, that’s why he gets paid the big bucks!