NEW: Wells Report Released, Claims Patriots, Brady Cheated
Thursday, May 07, 2015
report on the investigation regarding the New England Patriots and deflategate and claims that the Patriots probably deflated the balls on purpose.
The report states that "it is more probable than not that the New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules." The report continues "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."
Blame on Tom Brady
Just prior to the Super Bowl, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady denied any involvement in deflating the footballs and claimed to know very little about the process. The Wells report says differently.
"It is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities."
While the report puts blame on Tom Brady, it takes blame away from head coach Bill Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, along with other Patriots personnel
"We do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots ownership, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick or any other Patriots coach in the matters investigated. We also do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots Head Equipment Manager Dave Schoenfeld."
Roger Goodell and the National Football League has yet to decide on any disciplinary action and according to ESPN's Adam Schefter, it is still days away.
Shortly after the report was released, Patriots owner Robert Kraft released the following statement.
“When I addressed the media at the Super Bowl on January 26 – over 14 weeks ago – I stated that I unconditionally believed that the New England Patriots had done nothing inappropriate in this process or in violation of the NFL rules and that I was disappointed in the way the league handled the initial investigation. That sentiment has not changed.
“I was convinced that Ted Wells’ investigation would find the same factual evidence supported by both scientific formula and independent research as we did and would ultimately exonerate the Patriots. Based on the explanations I have heard and the studies that have been done, I don’t know how the science of atmospheric conditions can be refuted or how conclusions to the contrary can be drawn without some definitive evidence.
“What is not highlighted in the text of the report is that three of the Colts’ four footballs measured by at least one official were under the required psi level. As far as we are aware, there is no comparable data available from any other game because, in the history of the NFL, psi levels of footballs have never been measured at halftime, in any climate. If they had been, based on what we now know, it is safe to assume that every cold-weather game was played with under inflated footballs. As compelling a case as the Wells Report may try to make, I am going to rely on the factual evidence of numerous scientists and engineers rather than inferences from circumstantial evidence.
“Throughout the process of this nearly four-month investigation, we have cooperated and patiently awaited its outcome. To say we are disappointed in its 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. In addition, given our level of cooperation throughout the process, I was offended by the comments made in the Wells Report in reference to not making an individual available for a follow-up interview. What the report fails to mention is that he had already been interviewed four times and we felt the fifth request for access was excessive for a part-time game day employee who has a full-time job with another employer.
“While I respect the independent process of the investigation, the time, effort and resources expended to reach this conclusion are incomprehensible to me. 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.”
Related Slideshow: The 21 Biggest Patriots Controversies
What do Michael Jackson and deflated footballs have in common? Read on for some of the more colorful chapters in Patriots history.
"Snow Plow" Game
December 12, 1982
The Snowplow Game took place against the Miami Dolphins at the old Schaefer Stadium in Foxboro. During the game, the stadium's snowplow operator cleared a spot on the snowy field in order for New England kicker John Smith to kick the winning field goal to give the Patriots a 3–0 win.
The Astroturf surface of the field had been waterlogged the night before due to heavy rain, and froze over before the game began. Shortly after the game began, it began to snow heavily. For this game, officials could call for a time-out, and allow the ground crew to use a snowplow to clear the yard markers.
With just 4:45 left to go in the scoreless game, Patriots coach Ron Meyer ordered a snowplow operator to clear a spot on the field for placekicker John Smith. Instead of plowing straight across the field, the plow turned left, directly in front of the goal post, giving Smith a clear advantage. Miami coach Don Shula vehemently protested but the field goal was good and the Patriots won the game with a final score of 3–0.
The following year, the NFL banned the use of snowplows on the field during a game.
The plow itself now hangs from the ceiling at an exhibit marking the event at Gillette Stadium.
‘Roughing the Passer’
Dec. 18, 1976
Patriots vs. Raiders
On December 18, 1976 the Patriots visited the Oakland Raiders in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
The Patriots led the game 21-17 with 1:24 to play when Patriots Defensive tackle Ray Hamilton sacked Oakland quarterback Kenny Stabler in what should have been the end of the game.
However, referee Ben Dreith called a roughing the passer penalty on Hamilton giving Oakland new life. Stabler proceeded to get himself into the end zone with ten seconds left to give Oakland a 24-21 lead.
The game still stands as one of the most controversial games ever played.
Chuck Fairbanks Quits
Chuck Fairbanks had been Head Coach of the Patriots since 1973.
In 1978, wide receiver Darryl Stingley was left paralyzed following a hit by Jack Tatum during pregam play in Oakland; Fairbanks had worked out a contract extension with Stingley before the game but later, owner Chuck Sullivan reneged on the deal. Fairbanks was furious and resolved to leave the team after the season.
The Patriots won the AFC East title that year, and seemed poised for a Super Bowl appearance. Just before the final regular season game, Sullivan suspended Fairbanks for breaking a contract by agreeing to become head coach for the University of Colorado in 1979. Fairbanks was reinstated for the Pat's first playoff game, but the Patriots were upset by the Houston Oilers.
The Patriots sued Fairbanks for breach of contract. During the course of the lawsuit, he admitted recruiting for Colorado while still on the Patriots payroll. The team won an injunction preventing him from leaving. However, a group of CU supporters bought out his contract, paving the way for him to leave the Patriots.
Irving Fryar PVD Fight
A nightclub altercation in downtown Providence left New England Patriot wide receiver Hart Lee Dykes hospitalized with an eye injury and teammate Irving Fryar facing a weapons charge back in October of 1990.
Fryar had filed a police report that said he was hit over the head from behind while trying to help Dykes.
Fryar was supposedly walking to his car outside Club Shalimar around 1:20 a.m., when he saw Dykes arguing with some people, and pulled a handgun out during the fracas.
In the summer of 1984, Michael Jackson reunited with his brothers for the final time for their "Victory" World Tour. The tour was promoted by Patriot's owner Billy Sullivan and his son Chuck.
Chuck Sullivan guaranteed the Jacksons a $36.6 million advance, and put the stadium up as collateral for a $12.5 million loan to pay the first installment shortly before the tour started.
He tried to use his NFL connections to make more lucrative deals with other stadium owners, but many balked at his terms.
In the most humiliating chapter of this story, the board of selectmen in Foxboro denied a permit for the concert, citing an "unknown element" of danger, thought to be a fear of a large black attendance at the shows.
The Sullivans lost tens of millions on the tour, forcing them to sell the team to Victor Kiam in 1988.
Potential St. Louis Move
James Orthwein purchased the New England Patriots from Victor Kiam in 1992 when the Kiam was facing bankruptcy and owed Orthwein millions. He planned to relocate the Patriots franchise to St. Louis, renaming the team the St. Louis Stallions.
His plans were curtailed when Bob Kraft, owner of Foxboro Stadium, refused to accept a buyout of the lease. Kraft used his ownership of the stadium to stage a hostile takeover, offering to pay $175 million for the team knowing that Orthwein no longer wanted the team if he could not move it to St. Louis. Orthwein accepted the bid.
Drew Bledsoe Mosh Pit
November 13. 1997
On Christmas Eve, 1997, Patriots QB Drew Bledsoe was sued by a woman who said that she was injured when Bledsoe and teammates Scott Zolak and Max Lane were stage diving and crowd surfing at an Everclear concert at Boston's Paradise Rock Club.
It was determined that there was no criminal wrongdoing, but Bledsoe and Lane each settled, with Bledsoe paying $400,000 and Lane paying $600,000 towards a $1.2 million settlement.
Bledsoe, who weighed 235 pounds, and Lane, who weighed 305 pounds, admitted they dove off the stage, but said they did not cause the woman's injuries.
Potential Providence Move
After Bob Kraft purchased the Patriots in 1994, he spent years trying to negotiate a new stadium deal either in Foxboro or in Boston proper. Several New England cities began talking with Kraft, including Providence. Mayor Buddy Cianci was a particular cheerleader for a stadium to be built downtown near I-95, where the Foundry is located.
Kraft later came to terms with the town of Foxboro and state of Massachusetts and built a new stadium right next to the old one.
Superbowl XX Humiliation
January 26, 1986
The Patriots were humiliatingly defeated in their first Super Bowl appearance, losing 46-10 to the Chicago Bears.
Maybe the less said about that one, the better.
Potential Hartford Move
After failing to get anywhere while trying to secure a new stadium to replace the aging, outdated 1971 facility in Foxboro, Bob Kraft unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate a move to Boston or Providence. In November of 1998, Hartford, CT came calling with an offer for a 100% publically financed stadium facility on the riverfront. A deal was made, and plans moved forward, until it was discovered that the proposed site was contaminated, and would require a massive cleanup cost.
Massachusetts ended up coughing up $72 million for a new stadium in Foxboro, with Kraft financing the rest himself.
Millen vs Sullivan
Jan. 5, 1986
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. This is one of those times.
This incident occurred at the L.A. Coliseum on Jan. 5, 1986, after an AFC divisional playoff game between the Patriots and the Raiders. The Raiders’ Howie Long had spent the week leading up to the game taking shots at the Patriots.
In response, General Manager Pat Sullivan spent the whole game mocking and teasing Long.
The Raiders wound up losing 27-20. After the loss, Long and Sullivan met up on the field. Long said things got heated when Sullivan grabbed his face mask.
This is where Matt Millen comes in.
Millen said he saw someone swing at Long, but didn’t know who it was. He got quite the shot in, claiming to not realize it was Sullivan.
Coach Bill Parcells left the Patriots in 1996 after disagreements with owner Robert Kraft. Parcells thought that he didn't have enough input into personnel decisions. When he left, he famously said: "They want you to cook the dinner; at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries. Okay?" This was in reference to an incident during the 1996 draft where Parcells, who wanted to draft a defensive player with their first-round choice, was vetoed by Kraft, who favored drafting a wide reciever instead.
When Bill Parcells stepped down as head coach in of the New York Jets in 1999, he had already arranged to have Belichick be his successor.
Belichick would be the New York Jets' head coach for only one day, however. At Belichick's press conference announcing him head coach, he surprisingly resigned the post. He then delivered a half-hour speech explaining his resignation to the assembled press corps.
Soon after, he was introduced as the Patriots' head coach. Parcells and the Jets claimed that Belichick was still under contract to the Jets, and demanded compensation from the Patriots. The NFL agreed, and the Patriots had to surrender a first-round draft pick to the Jets, causing the loss of acquiring running back Curtis Martin.
The "Tuck Rule" Game
January 19, 2002
The 2001 AFC divisional playoff game, or the "Tuck Rule Game", took place at Foxboro Stadium between the Patriots and the Oakland Raiders.
The name "Tuck Rule Game" comes from a controversial play where Raiders' cornerback Charles Woodson sacked Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady which initially appeared to cause a fumble that was eventually recovered by Raiders' linebacker Greg Biekert. If it was a fumble, it would have almost definitely guaranteed a win for the Raiders.
Officials reviewed the play, and determined that Brady's arm was moving forward, making it an incomplete pass and not a fumble. As a result, the original call was overturned, and the ball was given back to the Patriots who moved the ball into field goal range. With under a minute remaining in the game, Adam Vinatieri kicked a 45-yard field goal to tie the game, which sent the game into overtime.
In overtime, Vinatieri kicked a 23-yard field goal to win the game for the Patriots, who went on to win Super Bowl XXXVI.
September 9, 2007
During the 2007 season, the Patriots were disciplined by the NFL for videotaping the New York Jets' coaches' signals during a September 9, 2007 game.
After an investigation, the NFL fined Patriots head coach Bill Belichick $500,000 (the largest fine ever imposed on a coach in the league's history and the maximum allowed) for his role in the incident, fined the Patriots $250,000, and relieved the team of their first-round selection in the 2008 NFL Draft.
On August 22, 2013, tight end Aaron Hernandez was indicted by a grand jury for the murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-professional football player, in July 2013. On May 15, 2014, Hernandez was indicted for the 2012 double homicide of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado.
After his arrest, Hernandez was released by the Patriots organization.
January 18, 2015
After the 2015 AFC Championship game between the Patriots and the Colts, the NFL announced that it was investigating reports that game balls had been deflated. One such report came from Indianapolis Colts player D'Qwell Jackson after he intercepted a pass by quarterback Tom Brady.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he didn't know anything about the controversy until the morning after the game, and that he "cooperate fully" with any probe. Brady called the allegation "ridiculous".
According to reports, the NFL found 11 of 12 Patriots game balls were underinflated.
The South Boston Megaplex
The South Boston "Megaplex" was proposed in the mid-1990's to replace the aging Fenway Park and Foxboro Stadium.
Massachusetts Governor William Weld pushed for construction of a full "Megaplex" at one site, while Boston Mayor Thomas Menino favored a new convention center complex at another site in South Boston. In the end, the residents of neither of these neighborhoods wanted a stadium, and protested vigorously.
In the end, Fenway replacement plans were cancelled, and the Patriots constructed a new stadium right next to the old Foxboro Stadium after flirting with moves to Hartford and Providence.
The "Flying Elvis"
In 1993, the team replaced mascot "Pat Patriot" with a new, aerodynamic logo that resembled the King of Rock and Roll. Dubbed "The Flying Elvis" by fans, the new logo never took off with some fans, who prefer the "Old School" Pat Patriot to the sleek Flying Elvis.
Bledsoe Vs. Brady
When Drew Bledsoe returned from a lung injury during the 2001 season, he assumed that he'd return to his QB position.
However, Coach Bill Belichick controversially announced that Tom Brady would be starting quarterback for the rest of the season. Many fans thought this was unfair to Bledsoe, but history has proven Belichick made the right move.
January 10, 2015
After the team's 35-31 loss, Ravens headcoach John Harbaugh complained about a "substitution trick" by the Patriots during the game, saying it was "clearly deception" that he hoped the NFL would investigate.
Harbaugh received an "unsportsmanlike conduct" penalty for running onto the field and screaming in objection. After the game, he said that the officials "didn't understand what was going on."
The NFL found that there was no wrongdoing by the Patriots.
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