The long awaited Ted Wells Report has finally been released, and it says pretty much what we thought it would say. More likely than not, The Patriots cheated by deflating balls before the AFC Championship game. You can read the full 243 page report here.
It's long...and boring, but there's some really interesting stuff in there.
The report specifically names three individuals at the Patriots organization, Brady, McNally, and Jastremski. It also uses terms like "more probable than not," because there's no video of the deed actually being done, but the evidence is pretty damning. They have McNally going into the bathroom with the game balls, and lying to investigators about having done that.
Then there's the text messages...
Ouch. The "kicks" he's referring to are the new shoes that he's being bribed with to deflate the balls. He was also bribed with Tom Brady autographed game balls, and there's another reference to cash being exchanged to let the air out of Tom's balls.
A lot of Patriots fans are hiding behind the idea that there isn't definitive proof. Well, no one was in the bathroom video taping the guy masturbating and reducing Brady's ball size, but if these text messages alone don't show you that at the very least Tom knew this was happening, I don't know what to tell you.
I personally find it hard to believe that other people in the organization weren't aware of it, as well. How about the center? The running backs and wide receivers? Are you telling me in their years of playing football, they don't know what a fully inflated ball feels like? They knew, but I guess all we can do is speculate about that, because they aren't exactly going to throw their name in the ring for any kind of punishment.
Now it seems pretty clear that Tom Brady lied about having any kind of involvement. I mean, why would these guys deflate balls of their own volition? They were clearly getting direction from at least Tom, and possibly other people in leadership positions at the team telling them it was okay to do so.
I have a hard time believing that they would just start screwing with the air pressure of game balls just because they thought it would be fun.
So then the question becomes what punishment should be handed down.
Should there be a fine? A suspension? Both?
Personally, I think the punishment should be harsh. The Patriots have been caught cheating before and were fined. Clearly, the fine taught them nothing. Not only that, but now you have questions about the integrity of an NFL game. This has been going on for some time.
Maybe if the Patriots had been playing with fully inflated balls, all of the games would have ended the same way... and maybe not. That's the problem with cheating. We'll never know. It's the fact that you have a sport supported by the money of fans, and now fans have to question whether or not teams are playing by the rules.
Last year the Atlanta Falcons were punished for pumping fake crowd noise into their stadium. The fact that they had a losing record does not matter, cheating is cheating. I think the league should have been tougher on them. The reality is though, the Falcons just look sad. When you cheat and lose, you just look pathetic. When you cheat and win, that's when fans get angry.
This isn't the first time New England has cheated. They need severe punishment. I think Brady should be penalized for at least half of the season, if not the entire year.
I know that sounds like it might be way too harsh, but if you let players or teams cheat and get away with it, what kind of message are you sending?
Or... maybe just a good spanking is in order. I've heard Adrian Peterson is pretty good at that.