Tom Brady and the New England Patriots have answered back to the Wells report with an appeal to Brady's four-game suspension, and a 20,000 word response titled "The Wells Report in Context."
The lengthy rebuttal documents the team's issues with the NFL report on how the Patriots and quarterback Tom Brady were likely behind the two locker room attendants deflating footballs used in the AFC Championship Game.
The Patriots were fined $1 million for their role in Deflategate and stripped of two draft picks. Brady was suspended for four games, and has appealed the decision.
"The conclusions of the Wells Report are at best, incomplete, incorrect and lack context," the report reads.
Annotations to the Wells report were made by Daniel L. Goldberg, a senior partner in the Boston office of Morgan Lewis, who was present during all of the interviews of Patriots personnel conducted at Gillette Stadium.
Shortly after the New England Patriots' response to the report, the NFL Players Association announced it has officially filed an appeal to Brady's four-game suspension, and asked for a neutral party to hear the case.
"Given the NFL's history of inconsistency and arbitrary decisions in disciplinary matters, it is only fair that a neutral arbitrator hear this appeal," the Players Association said in a written statement. "If Ted Wells and the NFL believe, as their public comments stated, that the evidence in their report is 'direct' and 'inculpatory,' then they should be confident enough to present their case before someone who is truly independent."
NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello later confirmed that the commissioner has rejected the request for a neutral arbitrator and said Goodell will personally meet with Brady.
Here are some key takeaways from the 20,000-word report from the Patriots:
Humorous text messages were misinterpreted.
"The problem with relying on text messages to derive meaning are well known. They do not convey tone of voice. They are not well-suited for humor or sarcasm. Shorthand expressions or terms routinely used by those sending texts to each other may not be understood or appreciated. How many people have sent a joking text which could be misinterpreted if read cold by a third person?"
The Wells report dismisses the scientific explanation for the natural loss of psi.
"Using Ideal Gas Law calculations, footballs set pre-game at 71 degree indoor temperatures at the high end of the Rule 2 range –13.5 psi – will drop below 12.5 when the outside temperature is at or below 52 degrees. It is safe to assume that countless NFL games have therefore used below-regulation footballs – and no one has ever noticed."
There is no evidence Tom Brady preferred softer footballs.
"The speculation about what the texts all refer to is also based on unsupported speculation that, because Mr. Brady preferred footballs at 12.5, he really wanted them to have even less psi. There is no evidence that Mr. Brady wanted footballs below 12.5 psi. To assume that wanting footballs set at the low end of the permissible range really reflects a desire they be even lower is mere speculation."
The Wells report did not consider use of the game footballs.
"During the course of play where the Patriots had far more offensive plays than did the Colts, the Patriots footballs were subject to far more use, more crushing multiple times under hundreds of pounds of player weight, more exposure to the rain, etc."