I don’t care a whit about pro football, other than the sooner it disappears the more productive America will be. But this story about Tom Brady and the New England Patriots should be attended to by lovers of the sport — which seems now to have completely abandoned all notions of sportmanship:
The much-anticipated and long-awaited Wells Report is in, and it does not lack in thoroughness. It combines 139 pages of legal and investigatory evidence with 104 pages of scientific and atmospheric data to paint a picture of deceit and rules skirting by members of the Patriots organization. The primary culprits are two lower-level employees—Jim McNally and Jon Jastremski—responsible for the administration and preparation of footballs (they both may be ex-employees by the time you read this). But within the discussion of their actions comes frequent mention of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who is implicated in a pattern of behavior of doctoring footballs to his benefit.
Wells writes like the trial lawyer that he is, using the civil litigation phrases such as “more probable than not” and “generally aware of inappropriate activities.” He presents a strong case of circumstantial evidence, fueled by some direct evidence—incriminating texts about tampering routines and Brady’s preferences for ball pressure—as well. As much as Patriots fans may disagree, however, (1) the “preponderance of evidence” standard will be enough to warrant discipline from the NFL, and (2) circumstantial evidence does not mean that the evidence is not strong (recall that a former Patriots tight end was recently convicted of murder with only circumstantial evidence). With time and cost not an issue, Wells and his team laid out a trove of circumstantial evidence for the league to consider in potential discipline…
Here is the Report’s money quote: “It is more probable than not that Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls. Evidence of Brady‘s awareness appears in text communications between McNally and Jastremski.”
Perhaps even more damning for Brady is evidence of a potential cover-up once the inquiry began after the AFC Championship Game, noted here: “Additional evidence of Brady’s awareness includes a material increase in the frequency of telephone and text communications between Brady and Jastremski shortly after suspicions of ball tampering became public on January 19 suggests that Brady was closely monitoring Jastremski. After not communicating by telephone or text for more than six months Brady and Jastremski spoke twice on January 19, twice on January 20 and twice on January 21 before Jastremski surrendered his cell phone to the Patriots later that day for forensic imaging.” This is not a good look for Brady.
But hey, just win, baby. In “by any means necessary” America, that’s the new red, white and blue.