Over three months have passed since the New England Patriots and Tom Brady were accused of illegally tampering with the footballs that the team used in their 45-7 rout of the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game.
At halftime of the game it had been determined that several of the Patriots game balls were inflated to pressures less than the NFL allows and then were re-inflated to make them meet NFL regulations.
Since the initial allegations, Ted Wells has been conducting an investigation of the role of the Patriots organization and Brady in the handling of the footballs before that game. His report was released yesterday.
The Wells Report found no guilt on behalf of Robert Kraft, Bill Belichick, or anyone else in the Patriots organization. Instead, it focuses on two equipment employees - John Jastremski and Jim McNally - and Brady.
Wells determined that it was "more probable than not" that Jastremski and McNally deliberately deflated the footballs and that Brady was "at least generally aware" of this.
Most of the findings are based on text messages shared between Jastremski and McNally as well as phone conversations between Brady and McNally. While there are some parts of the texts that can be viewed as showing Jastremski and McNally were guilty and while it seems odd that Brady would call Jastremski several times in the days following the victory over the Colts after not talking to him by phone over the previous six months, there is no "smoking gun."
The Wells Report failed to discover hard evidence that any member of the Patriots organization was involved in tampering with the footballs. There is no video of either Jastremski or McNally deflating the footballs or any part of a text message from Brady directing them to tamper with the footballs or to not speak about the subject.
The bottom line is that based on a lack of hard evidence, any punishment of Brady should be minimal. He cooperated with the investigation and the investigation failed to prove he was directly involved. Brady should receive no suspension and at most should pay a fine.