While the New England Patriots’ response to the NFL’s investigation into and discipline of the team’s actions in Deflategate has consistently been equally defiant and absurd, one aspect of the recently published website, The Wells Report in Context, adds yet another shade to the bouquet of adjectives fit to describe their defense: comical.
Investigator Ted Wells has acknowledged, both within the Wells Report itself and in a subsequent interview, that one of the cornerstones of his findings lay in the text message exchanges between John Jastremski and Jim McNally.
Within those exchanges are numerous references to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the process of inflating and deflating footballs. At one point, McNally refers to himself as “the deflator”.
Instead of merely doubling down on the stance that they originally presented to the league—that the texts merely represented uninhibited banter between two associates that in no way reflected actual events—the organization’s legal team, for some reason, actually attempted to parse the meaning of these informal texts, construing them in such a way as to at least conflate the issue.
The result is exceedingly comical.
Anybody who has been following this story has no doubt become aware already of the Patriots’ attempts to ascribe new meaning to the term ‘deflation’ as a euphemism for weight loss, saying that McNally had a desire to lose weight, and that that is why he referenced himself as the deflator.
Yet they also asserted the opposite ambition to Jastremski—that he sought to add weight—which unwittingly gets them into trouble when McNally sends a message to the former instructing him to “deflate”.
Additionally, the Patriots’ legal team actually asserted that McNally’s jocular claim of not going to ESPN was over his desire for a pair of sneakers that he wanted Jastremski to secure for him behind his superior’s back.
Perhaps most comical of all is the site’s claim that the Wells investigation “disregarded” the “pattern of Mr. Jastremski’s texting” to send “texts which did not relate to either a prior text that he sent or the prior text that he received”. This defense was invoked in relation to McNally directly referencing Brady.
After McNally texted his displeasure about Brady and his jocular suggestion that he would over-inflate his next football, Jastremski texted back that he “talked to him last night” and that “he actually brought [McNally] up and said you must have a lot of stress trying to get them done”.
The defense here is that Jastremski is referring to a friend, who had evidently brought up McNally’s difficulty in re-selling select season tickets for Patriots games.
Finally, the Patriots thought they really had something when they discovered an evident omission in the Wells Report that failed to account for the time that McNally was seen locked inside a bathroom prior to the AFC Championship game and whether or not the duration of time he spent in the bathroom was consistent with normal use.
The Wells Report in Context asks us to take the most probable explanation for each scenario recounted above, while attempting to feed the narrative of what is the most probable explanation. The result is a veritable theater of the absurd in which an elaborate string of highly unlikely misunderstandings must take place in order to support the narrative it offers.