Tom Brady answered questions for over 30 minutes when Deflategate broke. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Tom Brady answered questions for over 30 minutes when Deflategate broke. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

“I think I’ve heard it all at this point. Oh, God. It’s ridiculous”
Tom Brady on Dennis & Callahan with Minihane on Jan. 19, 2015

Tom Brady‘s paper trail started right here.

The Wells Report was released on Wednesday, and it came down much harder on Brady than even the most ardent Patriots-hater could’ve expected, concluding that Brady probably knew about footballs being doctored, though it stopped short of saying he sanctioned it.

Such thoughts couldn’t have been further from the minds of the hosts of D&C when he joined them for his weekly visit around 7 a.m., just hours after trucking the Colts 45-7 in the AFC title game. At that point, the story of the Patriots possibly deflating footballs was a small one, a curiosity without staying power.

Five months later, Brady’s appearance on WEEI that morning ended up factoring into the Wells Report, triggering a chain of events that shows just how quickly this story spiraled out of everyone’s control, from Brady, to the Patriots, to the NFL itself. Kirk Minihane admits asking Brady about it (listen here at the 9-minute mark) as an afterthought.

“When we interviewed Brady ‘€“ and maybe shame on me ‘€“ on that Monday morning after a championship game they won by 90 points, it just seemed like one of those whacky Monday morning Pro Football Talk stories that would float away by Wednesday,” Minihane said on Wednesday night. “Then (Chris) Mortensen’s report came out and it was like, holy [expletive].”

Mortensen’s story — about 11 of 12 being significantly deflated –€“ would touch off a firestorm that caught everyone by surprise.

“It seemed like a very minor deal,” said morning host Gerry Callahan. “He laughed, we downplayed it. We didn’t anticipate it blowing up this big, and it shouldn’t have blown up this big. They broke the rules, but it’s a very minor rule. It’s like stealing grapes in the produce section of the grocery store. It’s not even as egregious as sticking Vaseline on the uniforms. It’s a competitive advantage, but a small one.”

That appearance started dominoes that contributed to Wells’ conclusion that Brady knew more than he admitted. He acknowledged on the air that Minihane’s question was the first he had heard of the allegations (Minihane and Callahan said on Wednesday night that they still believe him on this point). At 7:25 a.m., the report states, equipment assistant John Jastremski texted Brady. “Call me when you get a second,” he wrote.

It took Brady less than a minute to comply, and according to the report, the two spoke for 13 minutes and four seconds. The report states that Jastremski believes it’s the only time the two spoke about the deflation controversy. It also appeared to be the first time they communicated via cell phone (talk or text) in at least six months.

Though Callahan maintains the controversy has been twisted beyond recognition and proportion, he acknowledges that Brady appears to have been less than truthful, such as when he claimed not to know Jim McNally, the self-proclaimed “deflater.”

“Tom doesn’t look good,” Callahan said. “[Saying,] ‘I don’t know who McNally is?’ I’m sure he’s been there 30 years. He doesn’t sound like a shrinking violet either. He called Jastremski immediately after he talked to us. It doesn’t look good, but you know what, you talk about the Patriots being always on the edge, on the margins, but Brady hasn’t been. This is his first time as a suspect. Not what he’s looking for, so what does he do next? That’s a good question. Jim Gray maybe? Peter King? I don’t know.”

Added Minihane: “The idea that these two boobs would go on their own and do this without Tom Brady knowing about it is foolishness.”

If Brady’s punished, Callahan believes it won’t be for the crime.

“There was a coverup involved, and that’s what’s going to get him in trouble — the coverup,” he said. “The text messages, the effort to get away with this, that’s what’s going to get him in trouble, not necessarily the underinflation.”

Callahan can’t wrap his head around the lengths some will go to shred Brady for one very public misstep in an otherwise sterling career as a face of the league.

“This is schadenfreude at its finest,” he said. “Bill Plaschke just tweeted that this is just like Barry Bonds, Brady is like Barry Bonds. If it were someone else, New England fans would be reveling in it, if it happened to the Colts, the Jets, the Seahawks. That goes without saying. But it’s amazing that taking air out of the ball was already equated with the Black Sox scandal. We went from Shoeless Joe to Barry Bonds. Give it a couple of days, and Brady will be O.J. Simpson. Give him three days and he’ll be Rosie Ruiz.”

Minihane, meanwhile, has no doubt Brady’s still going to the Hall of Fame, and he doesn’t think his legacy will be ruined. But this will follow him in ways that don’t apply to other great QBs.

“I think it’s a bad day for Brady, but it doesn’t affect his legacy,” Minihane said. “He’s still one of the best quarterbacks ever, first or second ever, but it’s something that’s always going to be talked about by the other side when you have an argument.

“There’s nothing like that for Montana. There’s no Montana argument like that. There’s no argument like that for Unitas. There is for Brady, if you want to make an argument against him. It’s part of the conversation now.”

Strange to think that conversation started on a sleepy Monday morning with the Patriots and their fans in full-on celebration mode and D&C preparing for what they figured would be two weeks of Super Bowl talk.

How wrong they were, along with a lot of other people.

“I know the evidence shows (Brady) called the equipment guy immediately after he talked to us,” Callahan said. “Apparently, he didn’t anticipate the firestorm either.”

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski responded to the charges in the Wells Report with a quick video statement on Wednesday afternoon:

Tom Brady could face a fine or suspension for his role in "Deflategate." (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)THIS is what we waited 103 days for?

Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski responded to the charges in the Wells Report with a quick video statement on Wednesday afternoon:

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Tom Brady was found to be 'generally aware' of deflated footballs. (Getty Images)Hope the Commissioner is happy with his league's hatchet job on the most successful quarterback to ever play the game.



It didn’t take long for Alfonzo Dennard to find a new team.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the former Patriots cornerback has been claimed by the Arizona Cardinals after being released by the Patriots on Tuesday.

After playing 10 and 13 games the first two years of his career respectively, the 2012 seventh round pick played in just six games last year before being played on injured reserve at the end of the year. He appeared to lose the confidence of the coaching staff.

Dennard had off field issues as well. He was arrested for felony assault on a police officer in 2013 and was arrested on suspicion of DUI just a few months later. He served 35 days in jail last March.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Tom Brady was named as one of the primary culprits in the Wells Report, but there doesn't seem to be much there. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Tom Brady was named as one of the primary culprits in the Wells Report, but there doesn’t seem to be much evidence there. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

1)  The report is exhaustive, and it’s clear that Ted Wells did his due diligence — 103 days worth, to be precise. But there’s very little conclusive language, and there doesn’t appear to be much of a smoking gun. The decisive comments that some New England critics were hoping for — a videotape or other definitive evidence — doesn’t seem to exist, and the report reflects as much. That’s why the phrase like “more probable than not” is used so liberally throughout what should be the most damning paragraph of the report:

“It is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules. In particular, we have concluded that it is more probable than not that Jim McNally (the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots) and John Jastremski (an equipment assistant for the Patriots) participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee. Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.”

2) The report absolves the ownership and the coaching staff, and places the blame at the feet of three individuals: McNally, Jastremski and Brady. (Adam Schefter of ESPN indicated Wednesday afternoon that the league was “considering discipline” for the three of them.) For the record, it’s not clear whether or not the texts between McNally and Jastremski were supposed to be sarcastic, but if the communications can be taken at face value, Brady’s reps can make a real case that he may have been the victim of someone with a grudge against him.

But at the end of the day, it’s not a good for the quarterback, even if he did manage to get mixed up with a couple of guys he probably shouldn’t have ever come across. From the report:

“[Brady] claimed that prior to the events surrounding the AFC Championship Game, he did not know McNally’s name or anything about McNally’s game-day responsibilities, including whether McNally had any role relating to game balls or the game officials. We found these claims not plausible and contradicted by other evidence. In fact, during his interview, Jastremski acknowledged that Brady knew McNally and McNally’s role as Officials Locker Room attendant. Similarly, McNally told NFL Security that he had been personally told by Brady of Brady’s inflation level preference.”

3) If the discipline stops with Brady, Jastremski and McNally, what sort of punishment are we talking about here? It’s likely that Brady could get a heavy fine, but the real question is whether or not he’d be suspended for the 2015 regular-season opener, a nationally televised game at home against the Steelers. Would the league have the stones to do something like that and remove one of its biggest stars from a night that’s supposed to celebrate the game on a national stage? An interesting question.

4) Those text messages are . . . well, I’m not sure how you want describe them. In the exchanges between McNally and Jastremski, the two come off like middle-aged goofballs who are looking to wring everything they can out of the quarterback, with McNally making jokes about being “the deflator.” McNally told Wells the texts were “jokes,” but the duo sounds bitter in the wake of an incident earlier in the season when, following New England’s 27-25 win over the Jets in Week 7, the report stated Brady “complained angrily” about the inflation levels of the footballs, which prompted an exchange between McNally and Jastremski where McNally wrote “F— Tom” in a series of texts to Jastremski. And before the 2014 Bears game, McNally texts Jastremski, complaining about Brady and saying, “[expletive] watermelons [are] coming,” presumably an inference to the size of the footballs. He adds of Brady “the only thing deflating [Sunday]…is his [passer] rating.” Last May, McNally wrote Jastremski that he’s “not going to espn……yet.” The two also discuss Celtics tickets and new pairs of UGGs as gifts from Brady.

And 11 days before the AFC title game against the Colts, a text from Jastremski to McNally promised a “big autograph day,” with the clear insinuation being McNally had deflated balls to Brady’s specification and that sneakers and jerseys were part of the payoff.

Wells’ previous work used text messages to try to gain some clarity in the Dolphins’ bullying scandal. The biggest takeaway here if you’re involved with the NFL and you think there’s a whiff of scandal going on? STOP TEXTING.

4) There does appear to be some odd stonewalling on the part of the Patriots, who have insisted all along that they wanted to be as transparent as possible throughout the process. Brady did answer questions in an interview, but did not make documents/texts/emails available to investigators. And then there are conflicting stories as to how many times McNally was interviewed. In Robert Kraft’s statement, he said McNally “had already been interviewed four times and we felt the fifth request for access was excessive.” Wells wrote that the Patriots denied a follow-up interview of McNally after one meeting. Regardless of which story is the right one, it’s a bad look for a team to deny the league the opportunity for a round up follow-up questions.

5) The league deciding not to take any disciplinary action immediately following the release of the report is curious. Perhaps Roger Goodell and company are simply trying to gauge public reaction first. The NFL has made some calamitous missteps over the last year-plus when it comes to public perception in other disciplinary cases, and this might simply be a case of the league trying to figure out which way the wind blows before deciding to hand down a penalty.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Tom Brady Sr. vehemently defended his son Wednesday in the wake of the release of the Wells Report, which seemed to lay the blame (at least partially) at his feet.

Tom Brady Sr. vehemently defended his son Wednesday in the wake of the release of the Wells Report, which seemed to lay the blame (at least partially) at his feet.

“I don’t have any doubt about my son’s integrity — not one bit,” Tom Brady Sr. told USA TODAY Sports on Wednesday. “In this country, you’re innocent until proven guilty. It just seems Tommy is now guilty until proven innocent.

“This thing is so convoluted. … They say that possibly — possibly — he was aware of this,” he added. “The reality is if you can’t prove he did it, then he’s innocent, and lay off him. That’s the bottom line.”

He called what’s going on “disgusting.”

“They had to protect their asses, and that’s what they’re doing,” Brady Sr. said. “I just read that four Colts balls were underinflated. Amazing. Amazing.

“They’re saying he’s possibly aware. … How do you put a cloud over somebody like this?” he asked. “To impugn somebody without conclusive evidence saying this is more probable than not? The reality is they have scientific evidence. Now they’re overriding the scientific evidence and badgering the Patriots. It’s disgusting.”

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Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

In non-Deflategate news, according to multiple reports, free agent linebacker and former Patriot Brandon Spikes is at Gillette Stadium for a visit on Tuesday.