NFL concludes Patriots likely deliberately deflated balls in AFC title game

The Ted Wells investigative report concluded that the New England Patriots likely intentionally deflated footballs during the AFC championship game, adding that quarterback Tom Brady was aware of the practices. "For the reasons described in this Report, and after a comprehensive investigation, we have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship Game, 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," the report stated"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. "Based on the evidence, the investigation has further concluded that that there was no deliberate attempt by the Patriots to introduce to the playing field a non-approved kicking ball during the AFC Championship Game. Although Patriots personnel provided a kicking ball to game officials that did not have the distinctive inspection mark of the referee, we find that the Patriots personnel involved believed the ball to be authentic and appropriate. We do not believe that there was any attempt by Patriots personnel, including Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, to deliberately circumvent the rules by offering the kicking ball for play." Discipline is being considered for Brady as well as Patriots employees McNally and Jastremski. No evidence that Patriots coach Bill Belichick or team officials were aware of this. "To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship Game, would be a gross understatement," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement. "While I respect the independent process of the investigation, the time, effort and resources expended to reach this conclusion are incomprehensible to me," Patriots CEO Robert Kraft said. "Knowing that there is no real recourse available, fighting the league and extending this debate would prove to be futile. We understand and greatly respect the responsibility of being one of 32 in this league and, on that basis, we will accept the findings of the report and take the appropriate actions based on those findings as well as any discipline levied by the league." Follow me on Twitter: @RavensInsider Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun
Aaron Wilson
Aaron Wilson covers the NFL for National Football Post, his second stint at the Post. He has previously written for Pro Football Talk and FOX Sports-Scout. Entering his 13th year covering the Baltimore Ravens, he's a beat writer for The Baltimore Sun. Wilson has also covered the Jacksonville Jaguars and Tennessee Titans.

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