Even after Roger Goodell’s final decision in Deflategate denying Tom Brady’s four game suspension appeal, Brady remains defiant. Brady insists that neither he nor anyone in the Patriots’ organization did anything improper with the Patriots’ footballs used during the AFC Championship game against the Colts. However, despite Brady’s denial of any wrongdoing, the Patriots’ ownership claims that the Commissioner’s decision was outrageous and promises to appeal the decision in Federal Court. There is substantial evidence supporting the NFL’s finding that Patriots’ employees improperly deflated balls and Brady was at least generally aware of it.
If you are really interested in this story, you should read the 243 page Investigative Report written by Theodore Wells, Commissioner Roger Goodell’s 20 page Appeal Decision and the 457 page transcript of the Appeal Hearing. If you read all of those documents. I think you will reach the same conclusion that Roger Goodell did; namely, that it was more probable than not that Brady engaged in conduct that was “detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football” so that he should be disciplined.
In analyzing all of the evidence, I think the following are the top five reasons why Tom Brady was suspended:
- Scientific evidence of ball deflation.
The official playing rules require that footballs be inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch. Each team prepares its own footballs, which are tested and approved by the referees pre-game. After an interception of one of the Patriots’ balls led to the Colts questioning whether the ball was deflated, the Patriots’ balls were tested at half-time, and each and every Patriots’ ball measured well below the permissible range. Four of the Colts’ balls were tested, too, and each ball measured within the permissible range. The NFL also commissioned a scientific test during its Deflategate investigation, which concluded that environmental factors could not account for the deflation of the balls but, instead, the Patriots’ balls must have been deflated by tampering.
- Evidence that Patriots’ employee Jim McNally deflated the balls.
Standard NFL pre-game procedure calls for balls to be tested and then escorted to the field by the officials. Stadium security videotape confirmed that, contrary to Patriots’ Locker Room Attendant Jim McNally’s claim that he took the Patriots’ footballs directly to the field, in fact, McNally took the game balls into a bathroom, locked the door and remained there for approximately one minute and forty seconds. Test results revealed that this would have been enough time to deflate the Patriots’ balls. Why did McNally not follow the standard procedure and have the officials walk with him to the field? Why did McNally enter a bathroom and lock the door with footballs and then lie about it?
- Information about Brady’s inflation preferences and communications with locker room staff before the AFC Championship Game.
Long before Deflategate, Tom Brady publicly acknowledged that he likes game balls inflated at the low end permissible range. Brady was personally involved in a 2006 NFL rule change that allowed visiting teams to prepare game balls in accordance with the preferences of their quarterbacks. After a Jets game in the Fall of 2014, Brady complained bitterly to the Patriots’ equipment staff that the balls had been overinflated. After the Jets game, but before the AFC Championship game, there were numerous communications between Brady and equipment staff about the issue of not having the balls overinflated. Given this clear preference and borderline obsession of Brady with regard to the inflation level of footballs, can anyone believe that McNally would deflate the balls below the permissible level unless Brady knew about it and approved of, if not outright directed, it?
- Suspicious communications and gifts before and after the AFC Championship Game.
Evidence from equipment personnel interviews and cell phone records revealed numerous communications before and after the AFC Championship game that were suspicious. There were many communications about Brady’s preferences of inflation of the balls before the game. McNally specifically referred to himself as “The Deflator” and stated that he was “not going to ESPN…yet” and made the suggestion that he be given autographs and sneakers for his work preparing the balls for Brady. Less than a week prior to the AFC Championship game, McNally received two footballs autographed by Brady and had a game-worn jersey autographed by Brady.
After the Deflategate scandal broke, there is also evidence of suspicious communication between Brady and the Patriots’ equipment staff. People whom Brady never spoke to on the phone or met with at length were suddenly exchanging regular text messages with Brady, having long cell phone conversations with him and even attending private meetings with him in the Quarterback Room, which is essentially Brady’s office at the stadium. This pattern of communication after the story broke can be interpreted as efforts of co-conspirators to “get their stories straight” before they spoke to the investigators.
- Lack of cooperation of the Patriots and Brady.
Although McNally was interviewed in connection with Mr. Wells’ Investigative Report, the Patriots denied the NFL an opportunity to re-interview McNally after they reviewed incriminating cell phone and text records, as well as videotape of McNally entering the bathroom with the footballs. Similarly, although Brady appeared for a requested interview and answered questions voluntarily, he declined to make available any documents or electronic information, including text messages and emails, even though he was promised that the requests were limited to the ball investigation and that all other text messages, emails, photographs, etc., would be kept private. In fact, not only did Brady refuse to provide access to this information, but Brady admitted in the appeal hearing that he gave his cell phone to his assistant for destruction on the very day that he met with Mr. Wells and his team to be questioned about the Deflategate allegations. This lack of cooperation by both the Patriots and Brady provide evidence of a cover-up and help corroborate a finding that there was a deliberate effort to violate the NFL rules and that Brady was at least generally aware of it.
Tim Rayne is a partner in the full-service law firm of MacElree Harvey, Ltd. which has over 34 attorneys in offices located in Doylestown, Kennett Square and West Chester, PA and Centreville, DE. Tim focuses his law practice in Car Accident, Personal Injury and Medical Malpractice cases, helping people who have been injured in accidents deal with insurance companies. Tim can be reached at 610.840.0124 or [email protected]. For more News and Information on Personal Injury law, check out Tim’s website at www.timraynelaw.com.