In what is surely the most striking act of defiance yet, the New England Patriots have earlier today launched a website dubbed The Wells Report in Context, which purportedly seeks to rebut, clarify, and amend the errors, vagaries, and omissions existing within the findings of investigator Ted Wells and the staff hired by the National Football League in relation to the team’s misconduct in improperly deflating footballs.
In the process of attempting to put the Wells Report in context, the lawyers that have assembled this point-by-point dissection have, on numerous occasions, liberally taken segments of the report out of context in order to fit their agenda.
After reading through the entirety of the Patriots’ argument contained within their website I have found that, while there is a good bit of comedy to be derived from the obvious evasions, such as the conflation of the term “deflator” to reference weight loss, which has instantly become popular on social media, there exist more troubling and disingenuous conflations and distortions that should be given greater attention.
There is a section that the Patriots allude to in the Wells Report, for example, in which they attempt to insinuate that Jim McNally did indeed with permission and in the knowledge of head official Walt Anderson remove the game day footballs from the officials’ locker room. They quote directly from the Wells Report:
Anderson also recalls that Mr. McNally, with Anderson’s permission, had moved the bags of footballs from the dressing room area towards the sitting room shortly after the officials returned from the player’s walk-through.
This seems like a potentially damaging quote until you actually look it up within the context of the report and unveil the deliberately omitted limitations. Here is the rest of that section of the report (on page 55):
Anderson understood that McNally was moving the balls to the sitting room area of the locker room, so that it would be more convenient for the officials to pick them up on their way to the field. Anderson said that it is typical for locker room attendants throughout the League to help move the game balls towards the front of the locker room, but that the footballs do not leave the locker room until the officials give express permission for them to be brought to the field at or near the time the officials also walk to the field. Numerous other game officials described a similar practice.
Absent of the broader context, the website is free to declare that “Mr. McNally had the referee’s permission to remove the footballs from the part of the dressing room where game officials congregate pre-game”, leaving open the implication that he was also permitted to escort the balls to the field independently, with “full knowledge” from the game officials, in spite of Anderson’s pre-game panic when the balls could not be located.
This is just one of the many deceptions contained within The Wells Report in Context in which the Patriots attempt to veil the genuine issues behind obvious buffoonery—i.e. that deflation was a widely-used euphemism for weight loss and that references to “him” and “he” in response to a text referencing Tom Brady were about a completely different person on a completely different topic—leaving behind the more pertinent concerns about the actual facts surrounding the AFC Championship game that was the primary focus of the investigation.