The Patriots have edited and replaced a much-mocked suggestion that a locker room attendant called himself "the Deflator" because he was trying to lose weight from their rebuttal to the NFL's investigation into the team's use of under-inflated footballs during the 2014 AFC Championship Game.
Brady was suspended without pay for four games and the Patriots were fined $1 million. Brady has appealed his suspension.
In the report, prepared by attorney Ted Wells, and therefore commonly known as "The Wells Report," two locker room attendants — John Jastremski and Jim McNally — exchanged a series of text messages that Wells and the NFL have used to assert that Brady was "generally aware" of the under-inflated footballs. Specifically, the Wells Report suggested that Brady had instructed Jastremski and McNally to use a needle to deflate the footballs he used to below league-standard PSI.
Jastremski: Can‟t wait to give you your needle this week :)
McNally: Fuck tom….make sure the pump is attached to the
needle…..fuckin watermelons coming
Jastremski: So angry
McNally: The only thing deflating sun..is his passing rating
One specific quote, in which McNally appeared to have called himself "the deflator," was considered by Wells to be conclusive.
On May 9, 2014, McNally and Jastremski exchanged
the following text messages:
McNally: You working
McNally: Nice dude....jimmy needs some kicks....lets make a
deal.....come on help the deflator
McNally: Chill buddy im just fuckin with you ....im not going to
Two weeks after the Wells Report was released, the Patriots fired back with a website called Wells Report In Context that annotated and rebutted claims made by Wells and the NFL. They claimed the Wells Report was "at best, incomplete, incorrect and lack[ing] context."
Regarding the self-referential "deflator" text, the Patriots suggested that it was impossible to understand tone and context of a few text messages within "many hundreds of texts that were made available to the investigators." The Patriots claimed McNally called himself the deflator because he was attempting to lose weight, a suggestion that was widely mocked.
In the original text of the Wells Report In Context, the explanation given was as follows [emphasis added]:
They never asked Mr. Jastremski about it in his interview. Had they done so, they would have learned from either gentleman one of the ways they used the deflation/deflator term. Mr. Jastremski would sometimes work out and bulk up — he is a slender guy and his goal was to get to 200 pounds. Mr. McNally is a big fellow and had the opposite goal: to lose weight. "Deflate" was a term they used to refer to losing weight. One can specifically see this use of the term in a Nov. 30, 2014 text from Mr. McNally to Mr. Jastremski: "deflate and give somebody that jacket." (p. 87). This banter, and Mr. McNally's goal of losing weight, meant Mr. McNally was the "deflator." There was nothing complicated or sinister about it.
However, a month later on June 18, the weight loss explanation was removed and replaced with a note that said the quote had "detracted attention from the numerous flaws in the Wells Report." However, the team maintains that their assertion that the texts were willingly taken out of context.
A two-paragraph explanation of how the Wells Report was "added to clarify the basic point being made…that one cannot reasonably rely on that one uncorroborated and unexamined text to conclude that there was improper ball deflation."
The change appears to have gone unnoticed — and unannounced — in the month since its edit. An examination of the original archived text with the updated version shows the weight loss explanation as the only significant change to the rebuttal's context. Various clarification and syntax changes have been made, but have also been noted with date, time, and reason by its editor.
A representative for the Patriots contributed clarifying language to this report.
Lindsey Adler is a sports reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Lindsey Adler at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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