Sunday, May 17, 2015

What happened to the teams' game-day gauges?

As most of you know, Walt Anderson’s best recollection is that he used the “logo gauge” to measure the footballs before the AFC Championship game, and, assuming this is the case, eight of the 11 Patriot footballs that were measured at halftime fell within the pressure range predicted by the Ideal Gas Law, as calculated by the Wells Report, which would indicate that there was no tampering. 

No surprise, then, that the Wells Report takes great pains to tell us that Anderson must have misremembered. The Patriots reported that, prior to the game, their footballs were set to 12.5 PSI; the Colts reported that theirs were set to 13.0. Sure enough, when Anderson gauged the balls, his best recollection (he didn’t write the measurements down) was that the Patriots’ balls were at or near 12.5, and the Colts’ were at or near 13.0. So it must have been the non-logo gauge, you see, because during testing, the non-logo gauge read similarly to the 50 other sample gauges that Exponent studied, more similarly than the logo gauge did.

This being the case, Exponent assumed that the non-logo gauge must also be similar to the gauges used by both the Colts and the Pats, hence the similarities in Anderson’s readings as compared to that of the two teams’. The logo gauge read higher than all other gauges tested, Wells said, so in all likelihood, if Anderson was using the logo gauge, his readings would have been noticeably higher than those reported by the two teams. Instead, Anderson’s readings matched those of the teams almost exactly.

But  why are we “assuming” anything, no matter how sound the logic? Shouldn’t we simply test the actual gauges used by the Patriots and the Colts, as compared to the logo and non-logo gauges? Wouldn’t that resolve the debate immediately?

I scoured the entire Wells Report to find out if Wells made any effort to find the gauges used by the Pats and Colts before the game. All I found was this, buried in footnote 36, page 65:

We believe that [James] Daniel located and used the pressure gauge supplied by the Patriots [to measure the football intercepted by D’Qwell Jackson]. We further believe that this is the gauge that John Jastremski considers his normal gauge. It has not been located since the day of the AFC Championship Game. It should be noted that we have not relied upon the air pressure measurements of the intercepted ball in any respect in reaching any conclusions set forth in this Report.

Inexplicably, there is no mention whatsoever of the Colts' game-day gauge in the report. This, as well as the above passage, raised a few questions for me:

  1. Did Mr. Wells and his team make any efforts at all to locate the Patriots’ game-day gauge? For example, did they ask Daniel what was done with the gauge after he used it to measure the Jackson football? What other efforts were made to find the Patriots’ gauge? Why weren’t these efforts documented in the report? If no efforts were made, why weren’t they? Isn’t this a key piece of evidence, much more important than the 50 “exemplar” gauges that Exponent went out of their way to obtain?
  2.  Why the oddly worded “It has not been located since the day of the AFC Championship Game”? Has not been located by whom? It seems to me that, if Wells et al conducted an all-out search for the gauge, and were unable to locate it, they would have said so. Instead, they carefully tiptoe around this topic. Odd.
  3.  Why is there no mention whatsoever of the Colts gauge, in the entire 243-page report? Does Wells feel this gauge is unimportant, so unimportant that it doesn’t even warrant a mention? If not, then why was it left out of the report? Was this an oversight / error? 

Let me tell you what I think.

The Patriots’, and/or Colts’, game-day gauges could have (and should have) been tested alongside the logo / non-logo gauges to determine how far off they were from one another. My guess is that Exponent did this, and found that the two teams' gauges were close enough to the logo gauge to inject doubt into Exponent’s “the non-logo gauge was probably closer” narrative. Hence, they left the topic of the teams’ game-day gauges off the report almost completely, with one reference to the Patriots’ gauge buried in a footnote, and the Colts’ gauge not mentioned at all, in the hopes that no one would ask about them.

Even if you choose not to believe in the same cynical machinations that I do, what is beyond doubt is that this, at the very least, is a gross oversight by Exponent. The teams’ game-day gauges played a major role in the events of January 18, and they deserved thorough testing and examination. Instead, they have been almost totally ignored.


  1. How about the missing gages are in Kesil's pocket.

  2. My guess is that they did minimal questioning about the Patriots' gauge, and a month after the fact Jastremski could not be sure which one was used, so rather than press the issue and complicate their already shaky data, they decided to base the investigation around the non-logo gauge, which was closest to their calibrated gauge. This is driven entirely from their mandate to come up with a result at the end of their testing. Unsurety would have been the only unsatisfactory result from the league's perspective.