Turns out all this Wells Report stuff was unnecessary.
All the time, effort and money that's been spent investigating the inflation level of the New England Patriots' footballs didn't have to be spent at all. That's right.
We didn't need:
139 pages of legalese;
103 days of investigation;
99 pages of scientific inquiry;
67 witnesses interviewed;
54 Figures and Tables;
4 calling birds;
3 French hens;
2 Turtle doves;
(all together now)
It doesn't even matter that Ted Wells thinks he proved his case. On a May 12, 2015 conference call, Wells said, "If I were sitting on a jury and the judge had charged the jury that it should apply the preponderance of the evidence standard, I would have checked the box that said, 'Proven'."
Oh, really, Ted? Would you really have checked a box on a piece of paper? Well, that's all the convincing we need! What are we waiting for? Let's go tie this here noose onto a tree and hang that lawbreakin' Brady feller!
Now, of course, I definitely would not have checked the box marked "Proven". If there was a box marked "Bullshit", I would have checked that one. But that's just me.
None of this matters, you see, because apparently, the only truly important thing here is Tom Brady's Cell Phone.
It's a music player. It's a communication device. And from the way it's being discussed, it's also an elusive treasure worthy of a Raiders of the Lost Ark movie. If only we could get our hands on that phone, we could crack it open like Indiana Jones did with the Ark of the Covenant, and all the secrets of this case would come spilling out for the world to see. So the dashing Ted Wells, complete with 1930's movie star mustache, swashbuckled onto the scene, with his bullwhip and well-worn Fedora, trying his best to bring that phone home for The Good Guys. Because the phone contains all of the answers. In fact, I bet it also knows who shot JFK, where Jimmy Hoffa is buried, the identity of the Unknown Solder, and the 11 herbs and spices you need to make Kentucky Fried Chicken.
Do you guys seriously believe that crap?
I can't go more than a couple of mouse clicks without seeing another keyboard philosopher popping off about Brady's phone:
"Well, yeah, the Wells Report is garbage, but Brady failed to cooperate, so he should still be punished for that."
"If he had nothing to hide, he would have gladly handed over his phone."
"He didn't have to give them his phone. He could have just handed over the relevant text messages, and he didn't even do that."
This cell phone stuff is the new rallying call for the pro-Wells crowd. It's the haters' Pledge of Allegiance, recited endlessly in the comment section of every Wells Report article and blog entry.
Patriot haters have few options these days. They've abandoned the science. They refuse to read the critiques of the Wells Report; in fact, they refuse to read the Wells Report itself, but every one of them thinks they know exactly what happened, and they know it the way TV preachers know that "Jay-sus" is coming back for us on Judgment Day.
Wells says he's proved his case. He was all piss and vinegar--that's two bodily function references so far, hope I can keep this up--about checking a box, but I noticed he didn't quite have the stones to say, "I think Brady's guilty". Could it be he's not as sure as he pretends to be? At any rate, Wells claims he's locked this thing up. That just leaves one question.
If he's proved his case, why does he still need Brady's phone?
"I do believe that if I had access to Brady's electronic messages and if I had received all of the messages, then it might have yielded additional insights into what happened," Wells said on the conference call. But that just begs the question. Why does he need additional insights? This is a done deal, right?
Mr. Wells has already checked his box. This is over. It's time to turn off the front porch lights and go to bed. Why is he still discussing uncollected evidence? Wells can't have it both ways: Either he's proved Brady guilty, or he hasn't. If he has, there's no need for any cell phone evidence. If he hasn't, then after $5 million, and enough paper to cover Kim Kardashian's caboose, his report is still inconclusive.
I've got some big news for you guys, but before I share it, I'd like to make quick work of the arguments I mentioned above:
In a 2010 sexual harassment investigation, Brett Favre refused to hand over his cell phone. Commissioner Goodell said that Favre was "not candid in several respects during the investigation resulting in a longer review and additional negative public attention for Favre, [Jenn] Sterger and the NFL." Favre was fined $50,000. No suspensions. He was allowed to go on his merry way, despite his lack of cooperation.
In the Wells investigation, Stephen Gostkowski, the Patriots kicker, also refused to hand over his cell phone upon being asked for it by Wells' team. Gostkowski was not fined or suspended at all. Gostowski has not been charged with any wrongdoing in this case by anyone. No one claims he is a part of this so-called plot. Why is HE withholding his cell phone?
Now that I think of it, I do not know of one player in the history of the NFL who has ever allowed the league to examine his personal cell phone, in whole or in part. But Brady was supposed to do so willingly?
You don't think it's a big deal. You think that people with nothing to hide should just allow their personal property to be searched. What if your boss accused you of stealing from the company, and asked to search your personal cell phone to find evidence to determine if you're guilty. Your personal cell phone, which you obtained on your own, not through your job, and which you pay for out of your own pocket. Your boss wants to search it, and if you say "no", he'll assume you're guilty. Tell me you'd be okay with that.
This isn't a simple matter of having nothing to hide. If Brady hands over that phone, or any of the information on it, a precedent has been set. Brady is a member of the players' union. By voluntarily handing over personal information in connection with a workplace issue, the union is effectively saying that they are okay with it, and the next time any player incident occurs, the league can say, "Brady gave us his phone; now give us yours. Or else."
The NFL is not a law enforcement agency. They don't have subpoena power. They cannot compel a player to hand over personal property. Roger "I never saw the Ray Rice video" Goodell has destroyed his own credibility many times over, and has repeatedly allowed his office to leak sensitive information, as recently as a couple of days ago. Anything Brady gave to the league would have been leaked to the media almost immediately. But you think Brady should have gladly handed over his personal cell phone without reservation? Sorry, you lost me.
But here's the kicker.
When the league was investigated by Robert Mueller to determine if anyone at the NFL offices had seen the Ray Rice video, Mueller examined dozens of employee cell phones. Employee work cell phones, which had been provided by the NFL. Guess how many personal cell phones Mueller examined? Go ahead, guess.
That's right, zero.
Because yeah, if I was employed by the NFL, and I was working with law enforcement agencies to illegally obtain evidence, of course I would do that using a company cell phone.
In summary, no player has ever handed over a personal cell phone, or even selected messages from one, to the league, and doing so would set a dangerous precedent. When the NFL itself was investigated, no employees were required to hand over their personal cell phones, even though those phones were an obvious avenue for investigation. Brady's actions were clearly motivated just as much by union-based concerns as they were by anything else. Also, in the past, a quarterback who failed to cooperate in an investigation directly involving him was given a small financial penalty and was not suspended.
But of course, logic rarely works on Hater Nation, an army of drooling zombies with only enough free brain space to remember a headline or two. To learn a thing, they must be slapped vigorously with it, so, vigorous slapping it shall be.
It's a funny thing about text messages: They have a sender and a receiver, and both sender and receiver has a copy of each message. If Brady, John Jastremski and Jim McNally were the main perpetrators behind the ball-deflation conspiracy, as the Wells Report says, and Brady was texting with them about said conspiracy, all we'd have to do is get Jastremski's and McNally's cell phones, and we could find out what Brady said to them! Right?
Jastremski and McNally are not players and therefore do not belong to the players' union. According to the Wells Report, page 30, "The Patriots also provided copies of select text messages and a call log retrieved from Jim McNally's personal mobile phone" and Footnote 5 on that same page states that "Renaissance Associates collected from counsel for the Patriots the Patriots-provided mobile phone used by John Jastremski".
So Wells and his team got a list of text messages and a call log from McNally's personal cell phone, and Jastremski's phone was given to them outright. And guess what happened next?
...Here it is...my Big News!
I did it--I found the messages from Tom Brady's cell phone! That sneaky devil, Ted Wells, hid them where he thought no one would ever find them: In the Wells Report! But I got the better of him this time:
I'll give you a moment for the shock to wear off.
So there you have them--the elusive Tom Brady text messages, the ones you think prove your case, and they're all full of "give me a call" and "you doing okay?" Where's your smoking gun?
"But Jastremski said he was 'nervous' on the morning of the 19th," you say. "What would he have to be nervous about if he was innocent?"
So the national news media was exploding over allegations about the inflation level of the Patriots' footballs, and the guy responsible for inflating them was not supposed to worry? Knowing you did nothing wrong is one thing; having your bosses, or anyone else, actually believe you is entirely another. Jastremski was likely thinking, correctly, that he was going to be shoved under a microscope, and that, whether he tells the truth or not, some people would always doubt him. Pretty much no one had ever heard of the Ideal Gas Law, and most people didn't know it was possible for a football to lose pressure in the cold. Why wouldn't he be nervous?
But it gets better.
According to page 71 of the Wells Report, Dave Schoenfeld, Head Equipment Manager for the Patriots, approached Jastremski at the start of the second half and told him that "the NFL suspected that the Patriots had deflated game balls because the balls had been tested at halftime and were found to be under-inflated. Schoenfeld asked if Jastremski had anything to do with this situation, and Jastremski said that he did not." Page 72 goes on to state that "When interviewed, McNally told us that he heard Schoenfeld mention on the sideline that some of the game balls were “down,” but that he did not say anything to Schoenfeld."
According to page 95 of the Wells Report, Jim McNally was interviewed by two NFL officials on the night of the game for 30-45 minutes, and during that inteview, they asked McNally about deflating game balls, among other subjects. Page 96 goes on to state that, based on data extracted from Jastremski's phone, McNally called Jastremski from the road on his way home, at about 12:15am, and told him about the interview and the allegations surrounding the footballs.
After speaking to McNally, Jastremski exchanged text messages with Brenden Murphy, Patriots equipment assistant and ball boy, who apparently had nothing to do with any of this--neither the Wells Report, nor anyone else, accuses Murphy of any wrongdoing.
The Wells Report also states that, at 7:04am the following morning, Jastremski read a news story on his phone that suggested that the Patriots had deflated their footballs. According to page 102 of the Wells Report, Jastremski exchanged text messages with his boss, Dave Schoenfeld, shortly after reading the story. By the by, page 122 of the Wells Report states,
"We also do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots Head Equipment Manager Dave Schoenfeld."
Let's pause for a moment and recap.
It's a little after 7:00am on the morning after the AFC Championship Game. Jastremski has known since shortly after halftime--almost 12 hours before--that the NFL suspected that the Patriots had deflated their footballs. He has just woken up and read a headline story from a major media outlet accusing the Patriots of deflating their footballs.
He's caught. The roof is caving in on his little scheme! And so far, other than speaking to McNally, the only thing Jastremski has done about it is exchange text messages with Brenden Murphy and Dave Schoenfeld, two people who everyone universally agrees were not involved in any conspiracy.
John Jastremski's in a lot of trouble, he's known for 12 hours, and he's wasting time talking to bit players, uninvolved people who can't help him. Meanwhile, there's one very big player he hasn't spoken to so far. Have you figured it out yet?
The sky is falling, and as of 7:20 on Monday morning, Jastremski still hasn't contacted Tom Brady.
According to Ted Wells, the only three people who knew anything about this plot were Brady, Jastremski, and McNally, and the latter two already knew that the NFL was investigating. Brady was the one who dealt with the media, the one who actually used the footballs, the one man out of the three who stood to get into some serious trouble over this. Brady needed to know, more urgently than anyone, about what was happening. And yet, Jastremski had gone for hours without lifting a finger to do so. Why?
Finally, as you can see above, at 7:25am, Jastremski sent Brady a text message asking Brady to call him "when he gets a second". Not "Please call me right now", or "We got huge problems, buddy", or "Holy crap they caught us!". No, just "Call me when you have a second". Are those the words of a man whose world is on fire?
Think about it. Assume for a moment that Jastremski and McNally are innocent. Suddenly their actions make a lot more sense, don't they? Jim McNally agreed to an interview with NFL officials at 11:30 the night of the game, even though he had a 90-minute drive home. He didn't ask for anyone else from the team to be present at the interview, or refuse because of the late hour, though he easily could have. Instead, he stayed and answered all of the officials' questions voluntarily. Why would a guilty man do that?
And how about John Jastremski? Why wasn't be blowing up McNally's phone as soon as the game was over, so the two could strategize on how to handle this crisis? Why isn't McNally calling Jastremski? Why did McNally wait until he was on his way home after the interview, and again, why did he agree to the interview in the first place?
The 12:15am conversation with McNally lasted for over 30 minutes. This is when McNally would have told Jastremski all the specifics that the NFL asked about, and when it would have sunk in how much trouble these two were truly in. And how does Jastremski respond? By texting Brenden Murphy, the ball boy, who was completely uninvolved, because McNally mentioned that he had given Murphy's name to the NFL. So the lid's been blown off the whole scheme, and Jastremski's concerned about giving a heads-up to a ball boy? Isn't it far more likely that Jastremski didn't do anything wrong, and McNally didn't do anything wrong, and they resolved simply to tell the truth to whomever asked? That being the case, it's easier to believe that he would want to let Murphy know that someone from the league would be talking to him.
And the next morning, after Jastremski reads the story online about the NFL's investigation, he texts Dave Schoenfeld--his boss--another guy who had nothing to do with this. That makes no sense if he needs to create an immediate damage control plan, but plenty of sense if he's trying to figure out what's going on, and what could've happened to the footballs. If that was on his mind, he would've called Schoenfeld instead of Brady, and that's exactly what he did.
And speaking of Brady, what about his behavior after hearing the story? He says that he first learned about it while being interviewed on the Dennis & Callahan morning radio show, and the Wells Report does not dispute this. The interview started at approximately 7:00am and ended about 18 minutes later. So did Brady hang up and freak out? Did he blast Jastremski with phone calls or texts? Did he call or text anyone remotely involved with the preparation of his game balls?
Of course, Brady did not hand over his cell phone. But here's a list of people (other than Jastremski, who is already mentioned above) who did give the Wells team their phones, and after a thorough examination of each, it turns out Brady didn't contact any of them, nor did they contact him, at any time before or after the AFC Championship Game:
- Brenden Murphy (Patriots Equipment Assistant / Ball Boy)
- Zach Struck (Patriots Equipment Assistant)
- Dave Schoenfeld (Patriots Head Equipment Manager)
- Berj Najarian (Bill Belichick's Chief of Staff)
- Jim McNally (private cell phone - provided call logs / text messages only)
Go back and read the 14 text messages between Jastremski and Brady again. Do they have an air of desperation, of two men trying to contain a scandal spinning out of control and blowing up in the media? Or was it simply one man, Brady, calmly reassuring the other that "he didn't do anything wrong"?
Do me a favor. Instead of just mindlessly repeating that "Brady didn't hand over his cell phone," why don't you tell me who you think Brady was talking to and what you think he was saying. All the major players have allowed their cell phone activity to be examined, and you've got nothing. What, exactly, do you think you're going to find?