While former New England Patriots officials locker room assistant Jim McNally may be best known for his service in that capacity during the latter part of his tenure as a part-time employee of The Kraft Group, owned by team president Robert Kraft, the now suspended 48-year old has had a long history with the organization going back decades.
Over the years, McNally’s role has evolved, but there have been some notable landmarks in his history of employment with the Patriots during head coach Bill Belichick’s tenure. In fact, his name was marked down for a football-related incident a decade ago.
As Frank Schwab of Yahoo! Sports noted last week while digesting the lengthy Wells report, the final tally of the investigation that led to the four-game suspension of Tom Brady and the institutional penalties of the forfeiture of draft picks and a monetary fine, McNally was noted for an incident back in 2004.
During an October regular season game, the report notes that McNally, who was involved in supplying the proper game balls to the ball boys, pled ignorance when it was revealed that the footballs being handed to the officials were actually marked practice balls rather than those approved for use in the game.
Schwab writes that “the NFL said the Patriots didn’t provide a reasonable explanation and ‘warned that disciplinary action against the Patriots could result if a similar incident occurred in the future because it could be interpreted as a competitive violation’”.
As I have previously written, Brady was instrumental in getting the league to ratify new protocols for the road teams to be able to prepare their own footballs for in-game use, beginning in the 2006 season.
As identified by Walter Sharp of Sharp Football Analysis, the Patriots’ ball-handling dramatically improved beginning in the 2007 season. McNally has held his current position within the organization, evolving from the status of ball boy, since 2007, the Wells Report notes.
The report also points out in a footnote that McNally’s role over the course of time between 2007 and 2014 has not been limited only to home games; that has only been the case for the past few seasons. Prior to that, he would attend certain road games with the Patriots, but that changed when, according to McNally, the team added more members to the full-time equipment staff.
Though the trail of text evidence only dates back to 2014, we do have an example of McNally seemingly instructing an individual to carry out his role as “the deflator”, as he referred to himself at least once.
McNally texted John Jastremski during the Patriots’ game in Green Bay in a message that reads “Deflate and give somebody that jkt”. Although it’s not clear what jacket he may be referring to, I can’t imagine he was instructing that the jacket be deflated.
McNally was also on-hand to attempt to supply the game official with a “K ball” used for special teams during the AFC Championship game, which is where the Patriots were tagged for their conspiracy to doctor their equipment past league regulations.
Following the release of the Wells report, the Patriots organization indefinitely suspended both McNally and Jastremski, even though they seemed to be concerned enough for his well-being that they spared informing him of a follow-up interview request on the grounds that he had been disturbed enough by the multiple interviews that he was already subjected to during the investigation.