I’m starting to come around on Tom Brady exhausting every available option in pursuit of his innocence in the Deflategate mess. Everyone’s sick of it? So what. Keep it in the news as it slowly convinces more and more of the masses what a massive hose job by the NFL it was. Still, there are plenty of emboldened folks out there convinced Tom Brady was a deflation scheme mastermind. I wonder what that really looks like, because even in trying to take off my Patriots-homer-pom-pom hat as Dan Shaugnessy suggested, I have trouble piecing together how a Deflation Scheme Scenario would actually work.
These are the deflation scheme points that vex me:
1. Brady specifically directed Jastremski and McNally to secretly deflate the footballs after the refs checked them.
So Brady wanted the balls BELOW 12.5, which of course, was never actually said by anyone, but that’s the core assumption. After he meticulously chooses his gameballs, he’s fine with McNally stopping by a bathroom and haphazardly sticking a pin in all of them. The flatter the better? How low can the PSI before it starts affecting throws? Ever try to throw a flat football? Any benefit of a slightly softer ball will eventually be offset by the inaccuracy it causes.
Even if you buy the entirety of the Wells Report, and specifically the Exponent study, as fact, do you know how much air McNally let out of the balls in that bathroom? .4% How is it even possible to let that little amount of air out, much less necessary?
And why of all games would anyone want flat footballs in a cold, rainy 2014 AFC Championship game? Secretly deflating the Colts balls, I’d get. But your own? Flatter footballs in the cold and rain? That makes no sense to me and if anything, I’d imagine Brady would want to kill McNally if he really did what the NFL surmises. That’s why it’s no wonder Brady played better with balls that were re-inflated.
Wouldn’t it have been even more fun if they re-measured the balls at the end of the game and holy shit, they’re below 12.5 again!!! How did the Patriots do it!?!?!
2. Texts from McNally: calling self the Deflator, saying he’s not going to ESPN yet, “stress getting them done”, etc.
There’s no way around these texts and they’re the core evidence sited by any Low Information Deflategator, Michael Felger, Shaugnessy and all the rest of ’em. Without these texts there’s nothing to build any case at all.
But here’s the thing(s) they all want to ignore:
Jastremski’s texts to his fiancee, “Panda”, that said the balls were supposed to be at 13 PSI after the November 2014 Jets game? Why would he have any reason to lie about it to her? And clearly this was a big deal, and seemingly a novel problem from him to share it with his beloved Panda. If there was a Deflation scheme, this would’ve been a problem yes, but entirely McNally’s fault and probably somewhat expected if he failed to get the air out of them.
Or what about McNally’s text to Jastremski during the 2014 Packers game? McNally was in New Hampshire, texting Jastremski on the Green Bay sidelines to “deflate and give somebody that jkt”.
This at least signals to me that “deflate” was a slang term to them. Not saying I totally buy the Patriots’ explanation it was a weight loss thing, but they are using it in a ball busting way. And as anyone who has ever texted knows, it’s often a cavalcade of inside jokes, ball busting and slang.
You can’t accept the some texts as the foundation of your argument and then simply ignore the rest that contradict it, or at least provide a little more context.
The asking for swag and threats to blow the footballs up like “balloons” don’t really bother me. Anyone who’s ever been around a pro sports team knows shits getting signed and given away constantly, especially to part-time employees who aren’t getting paid shit. And as mundane as it seems, Jastremski and McNally’s entire professional relationship was about footballs. So yes, that’s what they joked about even if McNally was technically employed to assist the referees.
Let’s also remember this is absolutely everything Ted Wells could drum up. Just a few vague text messages that came months apart. If there was truly a living-breathing Deflation Scheme afoot I’d think there’d be more than there this. Especially after the November 2014 Jets game that McNally would have had to have screwed up by failing to Deflate.
I still don’t understand what the NFL’s time line is. All the texts and testimony about the Patriots and PSI go only back to the November 2014 Jets game. The “deflator” text came in May 2014. So on one hand the Wells Report is saying plans went into place in the fall, but are also implying that something “deflate-y” was going on before that as well.
But we’re not sure that Brady et al even knew what the exact PSI rules were prior to November 2014. From all the text messages and testimony that Jets game was significant and the first time Brady and Jastremski actually discussed PSI numbers.
So we’re to believe that Brady was just telling McNally: “Make sure they’re pretty flat? How flat? I don’t know, just stick that fucking needle in them and hold it there, a-one, a-two and then we’re good. You can have unlimited Uggs and autographs.” That’s what went down?
And again, Brady’s supposed to totally trust Jim McNally, the gameday employee, to execute this plan with his carefully selected balls? That’s what the Deflation Scheme-ists believe? It does seem exciting and sinister but I can’t not see the holes in it.
What if Jastremski ordered the code red?
This is a scenario where I can almost buy a Deflation scheme: Jastremski telling McNally to make sure the balls were never too over-inflated, even if he has to let a little air out of them with a secret needle. McNally gets favored nation status with the Brady swag and they make sure Tom never knows the gameday employee is messing with his precious game balls.
Jastremski knows Tom likes them a little flatter and knows the refs often mess with them so he employs McNally to apply any means necessary, especially if the ref puts air into them during his review. They start at 12.5, then McNally makes sure they at least stay there, maybe get even lower. Every (home) game. (McNally doesn’t work on the road)
So this Code Red scenario doesn’t matchup with Jastremski’s 13 PSI Panda text, but it takes Brady out of the equation and at least makes the other texts matchup. But it also makes the November 2014 Jets game solely a major fuck up by McNally, by failure to deflate after the ref’s over-inflate. Seems like that kind of mess up would certainly be worthy of some “WTF Bird, U didnt dflt!” texts, but there were none of those.
So yeah, this theory doesn’t exactly work either.
Jastremski ordering the code red is as close as I can get to believing the Deflation Scheme theory. I just can’t buy that Brady knew and trusted McNally to actually deflate footballs every (home) game, no matter the conditions. For someone so particular about the feel of his balls, I can’t imagine Brady thought McNally pinning the balls gave him a consistent known advantage. It’s far too haphazard and it seems like there’s a far great chance of screwing up the balls that Brady already picked out.
But what it all comes back to is why? Why would Tom Brady even want to deflate his footballs below the legal limit? There are those who would have you believe slightly deflated balls are never dropped nor fumbled, but you’d certainly never want an even flatter ball in a cold and wet weather game.
Even I can admit the Wells Report has those text messages from McNally which can easily fit into a Deflation Scheme theory. But the other text messages muddy those waters just enough to add doubt that it’s as easily cut and dry as some believe it is. I know the Patriots are always looking for an edge, even if it’s a gray area of the rule book, but a deflation scheme seems like it has just as much potential to have adverse effects as it does giving any kind of advantage.
Of course the Deflation Scheme-ists won’t try to explain any of this. Those few texts from McNally (and not the other texts) are enough for them to buy an entire plot, despite zero hard evidence of anything happening in this game or any other game. Despite Tom Brady being the only person in this whole charade to testify under oath.
None of this will ever add up to me, and that’s why I continue to truly believe there never was a deflation scheme.