- NFL released 243-page probe into allegations Patriots tampered with balls
- Named Patriots workers Jim McNally and John Jastremski
- Included text message exchanges where the two discussed ‘needles’
- Concluded it was likely Patriots made ‘deliberate attempt’ to break rules
- Said that Tom Brady was probably aware of cheating – and that he ‘sucks’
- But exonerated Patriots management and coach Bill Belichick
- Team owner Robert Kraft blasted the ‘incomprehensible’ findings
Martin Gould In Amherst, New Hampshire For Daily Mail Online
01:20 EST, 7 May 2015
03:23 EST, 7 May 2015
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady may soon be suspended for his role in Deflategate, it has been reported.
Speaking to Bleacher Report about Brady’s potential suspension, a source said suspension is ‘definitely on the table. Not set but could be part of the mix. All options are on the table.’
The Patriots could also be punished, the source told the sports news outlet.
The source explained to Bleacher Report that disciplinary action could be taken against the team because a precedent has already been set by the NFL’s commissioner, Roger Goodell.
The media outlet cited Goodell’s remarks in response to two other NFL scandals — namely ‘Bountygate’ surrounding the New Orleans Saints and the Atlanta Falcons artificial crowd noise controversy — when he said higher-ups ought to have known about the cheating.
The news comes as it’s been revealed that two New England Patriots employees at the center of the Deflategate scandal traded texts about sticking needles into balls for quarterback Tom Brady.
The incriminating messages came to light after the NFL published a lengthy investigation into the controversy, and concluded that it is likely Brady knew of and condoned the scheme to let down the air pressure of NFL balls to gain a competitive advantage.
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Fingered: An NFL investigation has found that New England Patriots employees likely deflated footballs and that quarterback Tom Brady was ‘at least generally aware’ of the rules violations
Cleared: The NFL report concluded that coach Bill Belichick did not know about the deflation
Jim McNally and John Jastremski, a locker room assistant and equipment assistant, traded messages with each other observing that ‘Tom s***s’ and also gossiped about wanting cash and signed goodies in exchange for their work.
In one exchange the two discussed using a ‘needle’, seemingly for letting air out of the balls. At one point McNally asked that he be provided with the implement ‘surrounded by cash and new kicks’.
According to the NFL, in the exchanges McNally referred to himself as ‘the deflator’, and appeared to acknowledge the outrage that would follow anybody finding out about the ruse by entertaining leaking the secret to ESPN.
McNally has been a Patriots employee for 32 years. The NFL said that his official job ‘did not involve the preparation, inflation or deflation of Patriots game balls.’
At McNally’s home in the leafy town of Amherst, New Hampshire, a man wearing a New England Patriots shirt made it clear he had no intention of commenting on the Deflategate report.
‘Get off my land,’ the man – believed to be McNally – yelled each time a reporter approached his door.
No one responded when Daily Mail Online rang the bell at Jastremski’s apartment in Franklin, south of Boston.
The lengthy report, published online by the NFL, concluded: ‘Based on the evidence developed in connection with the investigation and summarized in this Report, we have concluded that it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the NFL Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate attempt to circumvent those 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.
The at New Hampshire home of Jim McNally, a man believed to be Jim screamed at every approaching reporter to get off his property
‘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’.
The report also includes logs of phone activity between Brady and Jastremski following the first accusations of foul play. Despite having no communicated by phone in around six months, the report says the two exchanged numerous early-morning calls.
Neither man explained fully what the calls contained, but admitted they likely dealt with media reports about the emerging controversy.
At one point text messages between the pair seem to show Brady attempting to calm Jastremski and warning him about an upcoming period of questioning from officials.
Investigators wrote: ‘We believe it is unlikely that an equipment assistant and a locker room attendant would deflate game balls without Brady’s knowledge and approval.
Victory? The Patriots won the Super Bowl in the midst of the controversy – which has now re-emerged
‘Based on our interviews and assessment of McNally and Jastremski, we also do not believe that they would personally and unilaterally engage in such conduct in the absence of Brady’s awareness and consent.’
They also pointed out that Brady withheld material which they asked for, including his own phone records, emails and emails.
Brady initially denied knowing anything about the allegations, and distanced himself from Jastremski and McNally. He claimed to have only recently been told about NFL rules stating the minimum permissible inflation is 12.5psi.
However, the NFL investigation shot down these claims as ‘not plausible, and contradicted by other evidence’.
The NFL began the investigation after the Patriots won the AFC Championship game in January, when the Indianapolis Colts complained that several footballs were under inflated.
The 243-page report released Wednesday said league investigators found no evidence that coach Bill Belichick and team management knew of the practice.
The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl.
Hitting back: Patriots owner Robert Kraft, pictured with the President, maintained that his team did nothing wrong
Patriots owner Robert Kraft responded to the report on Wednesday with a statement blasting the findings, which he said were ‘incomprehensible’ and based on ‘circumstantial evidence’ rather than science.
He said: ‘To say we are disappointed in [the investigation’s] findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship game, would be a gross understatement.
He continued: ‘While I respect the independent process of the investigation, the time, effort and resources expended to reach this conclusion are incomprehensible to me.’
Elsewhere in the statement Kraft contended that the ‘science of atmospheric conditions’ proved that his team had done nothing wrong.
However, Kraft admitted there was nothing his team can do, and agreed to accept any punishment the NFL chooses to dish out.
He said: ‘Knowing that there is no real recourse available, fighting the league and extending this debate would prove to be futile.
‘We understand and greatly respect the responsibility of being one of 32 in this league and, on that basis, we will accept the findings of the report and take the appropriate actions based on those findings as well as any discipline levied by the league.’
Brady himself has yet to comment on the controversy, which he furiously distanced himself from and belittled when the allegations first came to light.
However, his father, Tom Brady Snr, came out swinging for his son, claiming he was ‘framed’ in an NFL cover-up.
He told USA Today: ‘The reality is if you can’t prove he did it, then he’s innocent, and lay off him. That’s the bottom line.
‘The league had to cover themselves. The reality is they had no conclusive evidence. This was Framegate right from the beginning.’
CAUGHT IN THE ACT: TEXTS FROM PATRIOTS STAFFERS DISCUSSING ALTERING BALLS
WHAT BRADY SAID TO THEM:
The texts suggest Brady mentioned to Jastremski that McNally must have ‘a lot of stress’ trying to get the footballs ‘done.’
McNally: ‘Tom sucks…im going to make that next ball a f***in balloon.’ (Oct. 17, 2014)
Jastremski: ‘Talked to him last night. He actually brought you up and said you must have a lot of stress trying to get them done…’ (Oct. 17, 2014)
The two shared thoughts and jokes on how to overinflate the balls, and they had some choice words for Brady. They also said Brady was correct when he had complained that some of the footballs from the Oct. 16 game against the Jets were overinflated: Some had measured nearly 16 pounds per square inch, well above the 12.5-13.5 range the NFL requires.
McNally: ‘Make sure you blow up the ball to look like a rugby ball so tom can get used to it before Sunday’ (Oct. 21, 2014)
McNally: ’16 is nothing… wait till next Sunday’ (Oct. 17, 2014)
McNally: ‘F*** tom….make sure the pump is attached to the needle…..f***in watermelons coming’ (Oct. 23, 2014)
The report describes exchanges that indicate the two Patriots employees wanted sneakers and signed footballs in exchange for tampering with the balls for Brady.
McNally: ‘Better be surrounded by cash and newkicks….or its a rugby Sunday’ (Oct. 24, 2014)
Jastremski: ‘Maybe u will have some nice size 11s in ur locker’
McNally: ‘Remember to put a couple sweet pig skins ready for tom to sign’ (Jan. 7, 2015)
Jastremski: ‘U got it kid…big autograph day for you’
McNally: ‘Nice throw some kicks in and make it real special’
McNally: ‘The only thing deflating sun..is his passing rating’ (Oct. 23, 2014).
WERE THEY READY TO RAT?
One text message from McNally referring to himself as the ‘deflator’ suggests that he might contact the media.
‘jimmy needs some kicks….lets make a deal…..come on help the deflator’ (May 9, 2014)
‘Chill buddy im just f***in with you ….im not going to espn……..yet.’
AFTER THE INVESTIGATION:
After the complaints about deflated footballs became public, Brady called Jastremski for the first time in more than six months.
They had multiple conversations for a total of nearly an hour, then met in the quarterback room – the first time Jastremski had ever been invited there in his 20-year career. Brady then began texting Jastremski.
BRADY: ‘You good Jonny boy?’
‘You doing good?’
JASTREMSKI: ‘Still nervous; so far so good though’
‘FYI…Dave (Patriots head equipment manager Dave Schoenfeld) will be picking your brain later about it. He’s not accusing me, or anyone…trying to get to bottom of it. He knows it’s unrealistic you did it yourself…’