What A Set Of Balls

If you are anything like me, you felt like the NFL was going to tell Ted Wells to go ahead and bury the report on the Patriots ball deflation in whatever grave he could find and never dig it up.  Seeing as how it is already May and soon training camps will be starting, I’m certain the NFL was hoping we’d all move on and start forgetting, but oh no, I haven’t forgotten, I’ve been waiting for that little tidbit to come out ever since Robert Kraft got his little rich butt up behind that microphone and said the following “If the Wells investigation is not able to definitively determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure on the footballs, I would expect and hope that the league would apologize to our entire team and, in particular, coach [Bill] Belichick and Tom Brady for what they have had to endure.”  Yeah Bobby, cause they’ve been through such a tortured existence and all, plus I don’t know, they have been generally worshipped by the NFL for years as the best at their respective jobs and all, but you go ahead and ask for them to have their butts kissed again Bobby.  Annoying.

So it was delightful when the Wells Report, we’ll call it WR (how ironic, throw it to me Tom!), came out on May 6th, with the following tucked in its first few pages:

“For the reasons described in this Report, and after a comprehensive investigation, we have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship Game, it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules. In particular, we have concluded that it is more probable than not that Jim McNally (the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots) and John Jastremski (an equipment assistant for the Patriots) participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee. Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.”

Hey Bobby, you think we owe you an apology now?  While these guys of yours are manipulating balls so your QB can go out and throw the ball to your little toys?  Oh, and your little golden boy QB…look at him denying his knowledge of the Officials Locker Room attendant in the WR:

“During his interview, Brady denied any knowledge of or involvement in any efforts to deflate game balls after the pre-game inspection by the game officials. He claimed that prior to the events surrounding the AFC Championship Game, he did not know McNally‟s name or anything about McNally‟s game-day responsibilities, including whether McNally had any role relating to game balls or the game officials. We found these claims not plausible and contradicted by other evidence.”

You want to know why that’s not plausible that Tommy Boy doesn’t know who McNally is?  Check this out from the WR:

“Jim McNally is the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots. He has been employed by the Patriots as a seasonal or part-time employee for the past 32 years and during the 2014-15 season worked for the Patriots on a part-time/hourly basis only on the days on which the Patriots had home games. He first worked as a ball boy, and explained that his role evolved over time to supporting the equipment staff and helping with the game officials. He has held his current title since approximately 2007.”

He’s been with them for 32 years!  Longer than Tom.  Now he’s there on game day, he’s been the Officals Locker Room attendant for 8 years, he’s bound to have seen Tommy Boy at some point and vice versa.  But not only that, what does McNally do?  Oh that’s right he brings the game balls to the field, did ya know that Bobby and Tommy?  Hmm.  You don’t say.  Well I don’t say it, the WR does:

“In addition, McNally plays a role in the transport of game balls on game day at Gillette Stadium. After Jastremski has completed the ball preparation process and Brady has completed his selection of game balls, McNally carries the Patriots game balls from the Patriots equipment room to the Officials Locker Room a few hours prior to the game.”

Hey but you know the Colts warned the NFL the day before, check the WR:

“On January 17, 2015, the day before the AFC Championship Game, Colts General Manager Ryan Grigson sent an email to the NFL raising concerns about the air pressure of game balls used by the Patriots. Grigson sent his email to David Gardi and Mike Kensil, both senior members of the NFL Football Operations Department.  The email from Grigson attached a message from Sean Sullivan, the Colts Equipment Manager, describing these concerns. The Grigson email described the Sullivan message as an “FYI” and stated: “all the Indianapolis Colts want is a completely level playing field. Thank you for being vigilant stewards of that not only for us but for the shield and overall integrity of our game.” In relevant part, the attached message from Sullivan stated: As far as the gameballs are concerned it is well known around the league thatafter 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, it would be great if someone would be able to check the air in the game balls as the game goes on so that they don‟t get an illegal advantage.”

The WR continued:

“During interviews, when asked to explain the source of their concerns about the Patriots game balls, Grigson, Sullivan, and other members of the Colts equipment staff referenced the Colts Week 11 game against the Patriots in Indianapolis. During that game, Colts strong safety Mike Adams intercepted two passes thrown by Tom Brady. On both occasions, Adams handed the footballs to Brian Seabrooks, an Assistant Equipment Manager for the Colts, on the sideline. Sullivan also examined the footballs because, as he described it, he always checks to see how other teams prepare their balls to “make sure no one is doing a better job.” Sullivan and Seabrooks said that the intercepted footballs appeared to be coated in a tacky substance and seemed spongy or soft when squeezed. They explained that even though they did not test the air pressure of the intercepted footballs at the time, based on their years of experience, the softness of the balls raised suspicions. They also cited unspecified chatter throughout the League that the Patriots prefer their footballs softer than other teams and that visiting teams should be on guard when playing at Gillette Stadium. They could not identify a specific source for this information or reference particular conversations.”

So what did happen to the balls?  The security tape according to the WR says:

“Based on videotape evidence and witness interviews, it has been determined that McNally removed the game balls from the Officials Locker Room at approximately 6:30 p.m. After leaving the Officials Locker Room carrying two large bags of game balls (Patriots balls and Colts balls), McNally turned left and then turned left again to walk down a corridor referred to by Patriots personnel as the “center tunnel” heading to the playing field. At the end of the center tunnel on the left-hand side, approximately three feet from the doors that lead to the playing field, is a bathroom. McNally entered that bathroom with the game balls, locked the door, and remained in the bathroom with the game balls for approximately one minute and forty seconds. He then left the bathroom and took the bags of game balls to the field”

The WR discussed this with McNally:

“With respect to his decision to use the bathroom, McNally claimed that he hasused 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.”

We continue with McNally:

“When asked why he did not use the bathrooms available in the Officials Locker Room or the Chain Gang Room on the day of the AFC Championship Game, McNally claimed that the officials often ask for time to themselves prior to the game, though he did not mention anyone making such a request that day. Walt Anderson and most other officials interviewed said that it would have been ordinary and customary for McNally to use the bathrooms in the Officials Locker Room and that, in their opinion, McNally appeared to feel very comfortable in the locker room.”

Why would McNally go to the field alone?  Ask the WR:

“Richard Farley, who has been the NFL Security Representative for New England for approximately twelve years and is present in the Officials Locker Room before and during every Patriots home game, said that he considers it part of his job description to accompany the referee to the field and that he is generally in close proximity to McNally and the game balls when he walks to the field with the referee. According to Farley, he often opens the door to allow McNally to exit easily with the ball bags, and then McNally, Farley, the referee and the head linesman will walk to the field together or in close proximity to each other. Farley cannot recall McNally previously bringing game balls to the field prior to the start of a game without being accompanied by or in close proximity to one or more game officials.”

When did the Colts find out about the low pressure ball?:

“At approximately 7:47 p.m., during the second quarter of the AFC Championship Game, Colts linebacker D‟Qwell Jackson intercepted a pass thrown by Tom Brady. Following the interception upon reaching the sideline, Jackson handed the ball to David Thornton, the Colts Director of Player Engagement, near the Colts bench and Thornton immediately handed the ball to Assistant Equipment Manager Brian Seabrooks. According to Seabrooks, he believed that the ball felt similar to the footballs intercepted by Mike Adams during the Colts game against the Patriots earlier in the season, so he asked one of the team‟s equipment interns to locate a pressure gauge and test the inflation level of the intercepted ball. The intern used a digital pressure gauge similar to the gauge used by the Colts to set their footballs before the game, and reported that the pressure measured approximately 11 psi. Seabrooks then walked with the intercepted football to Equipment Manager Sean Sullivan, who squeezed the ball and agreed that it felt soft.”

The measurement of the game balls at halftime by the different NFL reps in psi:

Patriots Ball Blakeman Prioleau

1                      11.50 11.80

2                      10.85 11.20

3                      11.15 11.50

4                      10.70 11.00

5                      11.10 11.45

6                      11.60 11.95

7                      11.85 12.30

8                      11.10 11.55

9                      10.95 11.35

10                    10.50 10.90

11                    10.90 11.35

So the report has come out and it leaves some questions to be asked by me but I’m certain by others as well.  Namely what will be the punishment?  It’s too late to lose this year’s draft picks, how convenient.  So you know you are going to get away with it in time to win a Super Bowl, oh yeah, there’s that too.  You get caught doing it in the AFC Championship Game, why don’t they stop the game?  I mean how can you keep playing a game when you are deliberately breaking one of the fundamental rules of the game?  Or do we just say “Ok we’ll just fine you $500,000 and you’ll lose a draft pick in 2020.  Don’t do that again.  But hey, nice job on that Super Bowl win, it’s great that Russell Wilson threw a pick, otherwise we’d be in hot water.”  This is one of those precident cases, and I think the NFL has to come down hard on them.  How can you not?  If another team sees that someone does it and gets away with it with a fine why wouldn’t you do it?  So you do it in the AFC Championship game and you are found to have done it in the first half of the game and they don’t even call you on it, the NFL doesn’t even have the guts to call Bobby Kraft on it in his own house, how can they call anyone else on it?  I mean wasn’t the commish at Kraft’s house the night before?  Maybe they’ll just apologize to Bobby and say they are sorry they let McNally out of their sight and they should have been more proactive about training the security and the NFL personnel, it was all a big misunderstanding.  Read the WR and decide for yourself.