The NFL suspended Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady for the first four games on Monday for his role in a scheme to deflate footballs used in the AFC title game.
The league also fined the Patriots $1 million and took away two draft picks, including next years’ first-round choice.
The NFL also indefinitely suspended the two equipment staffers who carried out the plan, including one who called himself ‘The Deflator.’
The NFL suspended Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady for the first four games on Monday for his role in a scheme to deflate footballs used in the AFC title game
The league cited the integrity of the game in handing down the punishment five days after a report said Brady ‘was at least generally aware’ of plans by two Patriots employees to prepare the balls to his liking, below the league-mandated minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch.
And while Brady was not fined, he is set to make roughly $8million next season, meaning a four game suspension will cost him $2million.
The lengthy Wells report, published online by the NFL last week, concluded: ‘Based on the evidence developed in connection with the investigation and summarized in this Report, we have concluded that it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the NFL Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate attempt to circumvent those 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.
The NFL began the investigation after the Patriots won the AFC Championship game in January, when the Indianapolis Colts complained that several footballs were under inflated.
New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, left, lost two draft picks and Jim McNally, the New England Patriot’s official locker room attendant, has been suspended indefinitely
The 243-page report released last Wednesday said league investigators found no evidence that coach Bill Belichick and team management knew of the practice.
The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl.
Investigators complained that Brady himself refused to hand over texts and emails to help them get to the bottom of the scandal.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft responded to the report on Wednesday with a statement blasting the findings, which he said were ‘incomprehensible’ and based on ‘circumstantial evidence’ rather than science.
He said: ‘To say we are disappointed in [the investigation’s] 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.
He continued: ‘While I respect the independent process of the investigation, the time, effort and resources expended to reach this conclusion are incomprehensible to me.’
Elsewhere in the statement Kraft contended that the ‘science of atmospheric conditions’ proved that his team had done nothing wrong.
However, Kraft admitted there was nothing his team can do, and agreed to accept any punishment the NFL chooses to dish out.
He 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.’
It is not the first time the league has punished Belichick and the patriots, fining the coach and ordering the team to forfeit a draft pick after they were discovered videotaping signals by the New York Jets during preseason play in 2007.
WHAT BRADY SAID TO THEM:
The texts suggest Brady mentioned to Jastremski that McNally must have ‘a lot of stress’ trying to get the footballs ‘done.’
McNally: ‘Tom sucks…im going to make that next ball a f***in balloon.’ (Oct. 17, 2014)
Jastremski: ‘Talked to him last night. He actually brought you up and said you must have a lot of stress trying to get them done…’ (Oct. 17, 2014)
The two shared thoughts and jokes on how to overinflate the balls, and they had some choice words for Brady. They also said Brady was correct when he had complained that some of the footballs from the Oct. 16 game against the Jets were overinflated: Some had measured nearly 16 pounds per square inch, well above the 12.5-13.5 range the NFL requires.
McNally: ‘Make sure you blow up the ball to look like a rugby ball so tom can get used to it before Sunday’ (Oct. 21, 2014)
McNally: ’16 is nothing… wait till next Sunday’ (Oct. 17, 2014)
McNally: ‘F*** tom….make sure the pump is attached to the needle…..f***in watermelons coming’ (Oct. 23, 2014)
The report describes exchanges that indicate the two Patriots employees wanted sneakers and signed footballs in exchange for tampering with the balls for Brady.
McNally: ‘Better be surrounded by cash and newkicks….or its a rugby Sunday’ (Oct. 24, 2014)
Jastremski: ‘Maybe u will have some nice size 11s in ur locker’
McNally: ‘Remember to put a couple sweet pig skins ready for tom to sign’ (Jan. 7, 2015)
Jastremski: ‘U got it kid…big autograph day for you’
McNally: ‘Nice throw some kicks in and make it real special’
McNally: ‘The only thing deflating sun..is his passing rating’ (Oct. 23, 2014).
WERE THEY READY TO RAT?
One text message from McNally referring to himself as the ‘deflator’ suggests that he might contact the media.
‘jimmy needs some kicks….lets make a deal…..come on help the deflator’ (May 9, 2014)
‘Chill buddy im just f***in with you ….im not going to espn……..yet.’
AFTER THE INVESTIGATION:
After the complaints about deflated footballs became public, Brady called Jastremski for the first time in more than six months.
They had multiple conversations for a total of nearly an hour, then met in the quarterback room – the first time Jastremski had ever been invited there in his 20-year career. Brady then began texting Jastremski.
BRADY: ‘You good Jonny boy?’
‘You doing good?’
JASTREMSKI: ‘Still nervous; so far so good though’
‘FYI…Dave (Patriots head equipment manager Dave Schoenfeld) will be picking your brain later about it. He’s not accusing me, or anyone…trying to get to bottom of it. He knows it’s unrealistic you did it yourself…’