DEFLATEGATE UPDATE: AIR APPARENT

AIR APPARENT The long-awaited Wells Report – the NFL’s investigation into the New England Patriots’ alleged tampering with the air pressure in their footballs – was released on Wednesday,...

AIR APPARENT

The long-awaited Wells Report – the NFL’s investigation into the New England Patriots’ alleged tampering with the air pressure in their footballs – was released on Wednesday, and it did not make Tom Brady look good.

Recapping Deflategate: During the AFC championship game, the Indianapolis Colts (who were already suspicious of the Patriots), discovered an improperly inflated football. It had less than the mandated 12.5-13.5 pounds of pressure. Subsequently, it was discovered that the 11 of the Patriots’ 12 game balls (each team has its own) were underinflated. Brady had long been on the record as a fan of softer footballs.

airapparent1The Wells Report is couched in legal language and essentially pins the deflating of the footballs on two Patriots employees. Of Brady it says that “it is more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities” of the two football attendants.
 
Without eyewitnesses, who knows what really happened? Did Brady at some point instruct the employees to let air out of the footballs? Did he maybe tell them he liked the ball at no more than 12.5 pounds and they decided to be a little more helpful on their own? The evidence is circumstantial, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement.
 
Certainly some sort of discipline is forthcoming from the NFL. The Patriots, unfortunately, already have the old Spygate story – the improper videotaping of opponents – on their rap sheet. Fines are almost immaterial to NFL clubs and would be to Brady as well.

It is nearly impossible to conceive of Brady being suspended for this, but a price will be paid. His reputation is now tarnished, accusations that he is a cheater are resurfacing and we may always look at him with a bit of a jaundiced eye going forward no matter what the league does.
 
 
Post By: Larry Weisman, a longtime sportswriter for USA TODAY, blogs for Twistity.com. Follow him on Twitter @MrLarryWeisman .
 

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