Brady’s agent suggests ‘sting operation’ by NFL, Colts. Really?

Tom Brady has yet to publicly address findings of NFL investigator but his agent issued strong denial. (AP photo)

Tom Brady has yet to publicly address findings of NFL investigator but his agent issued strong denial. (AP photo)

Tom Brady has yet to publicly address findings of NFL investigator but his agent issued strong denial. (AP photo)

We have yet to learn what punishment will be handed down by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after findings that the New England Patriots tampered with footballs.

My view is that Brady’s rule-bending is far more serious than the Falcons funneling fake crowd noise into the Georgia Dome or a Cleveland Browns’ executive texting a team employee on the sideline (it’s believed ostensibly to influence the play-calling of Kyle Shanahan, who’s now with the Falcons). The Patriots, who have a history of operating outside the rulebook, should lose a first-round draft pick (the Falcons were docked a fifth-round pick) and quarterback Tom Brady should be suspended two games.

But if the comments of Brady’s agent Don Yee are any indication, it’s clear Brady is more concerned about protecting his image than coming clean.

Yee released a statement this morning that reads in part, “What does it say about the league office’s protocols and ethics when it allows one team to tip it off to an issue prior to a championship game, and no league officials or game officials notified the Patriots of the same issue prior to the game? This suggests it may be more probable than not that the league cooperated with the Colts in perpetrating a sting operation.”

So let me understand this: Yee’s position is that Indianapolis knew Brady might be throwing slightly under inflated footballs so they tipped off NFL officials before the AFC championship games, and therefore whether Brady was actually cheating or not shouldn’t even be an issue. Did I read that correctly?

Here’s an analogy: I knew Fred was going to rob a bank so I told police. Hey, not fair! Sting operation!

It’s clear that this is more about protecting the legacies of Brady and the Patriots now. It’s also clear that the longer all parties involved — Yee, Brady, New England owner Bob Kraft — deny or evade the truth — the bigger deal they are making this. Had they admitted wrongdoing from the outset, this issue would not have grown to the level it has.

Instead, we have silly statements like this, from Yee:

“The Wells report, with all due respect, is a significant and terrible disappointment. It’s omission of key facts and lines of inquiry suggest the investigators reached a conclusion first, and then determined so-called facts later. One item alone taints this entire report. What does it say about the league office’s protocols and ethics when it allows one team to tip it off to an issue prior to a championship game, and no league officials or game officials notified the Patriots of the same issue prior to the game? This suggests it may be more probable than not that the league cooperated with the Colts in perpetrating a sting operation. The Wells report buries this issue in a footnote on page 46 without any further elaboration. The league is a significant client of the investigators’ law firm; it appears to be a rich source of billings and media exposure based on content in the law firm’s website. This was not an independent investigation and the contents of the report bear that out – all one has to do is read closely and critically, as opposed to simply reading headlines. The investigators’ assumptions and inferences are easily debunked or subject to multiple interpretations. Much of the report’s vulnerabilities are buried in the footnotes, which is a common legal writing tactic. It is a sad day for the league as it has abdicated the resolution of football-specific issues to people who don’t understand the context or culture of the sport. I was physically present for my client’s interview. I have verbatim notes of the interview. Tom made himself available for nearly an entire day and patiently answered every question. It was clear to me the investigators had limited understanding of professional football. For reasons unknown, the Wells report omitted nearly all of Tom’s testimony, most of which was critical because it would have provided this report with the context that it lacks. Mr. Wells promised back in January to share the results of this investigation publicly, so why not follow through and make public all of the information gathered and let the public draw its own conclusions? This report contains significant and tragic flaws, and it is common knowledge in the legal industry that reports like this generally are written for the benefit of the purchaser.”

Just end this already.

Previously on “DeflateGate”:

Brady, Pats clearly cheated and Bob Kraft is in denial

Brady takes air out of Super Bowl critics

Great or not, Patriots’ legacy forever tarnished

Matt Ryan doesn’t believe deflating footballs is norm

DeflateGate: It’s time for NFL to forfeit games for cheaters
Stall, lie cheat — it’s Patriots’ way, and perfectly timed

Brady says he got his feelings hurt. Really?

Recent ramblings
— AJC: Pats, Brady clearly cheated and Bob Kraft is in denial
— MyAJC: Hawks survive but they didn’t make it easy
— AJC: Short takes: Wall’s status uncertain, late defense keys win
— MyAJC: Here we go again: Hawks let one slip away
— AJC: Short takes: Hawks go cold, blow double-digit lead in Game 1
— MyAJC: Teague is Hawks’ key to going deep in playoffs
— AJC: No shortage of stars but Hawks’ clincher started with Teague
— MyAJC: Finally, the good Hawks show up for series clincher
— AJC: On Falcons’ draft, trading up, Bruce Irvin and Gurley question
— MyAJC: Dan Quinn determined to fix pass rush after past Falcons’ whiffs
— MyAJC: Hawks’ regular-season afterglow is long gone
— MyAJC: Hawks being visited by ghosts of playoffs past
— MyAJC: Hawks’ Horford is coming up short against Nets’ Lopez
— MyAJC: Hawks know it’s playoffs and style points don’t matter
— AJC: Hawks in Brooklyn knowing they need to think sweep, not split
— MyAJC: Braves’ starting pitching is coming up short
— AJC: Braves swept by Mets, as Teheran is latest starter to struggle
— AJC: Hawks’ sale positive but does Gearon’s role ensure Ferry’s exit?
— AJC: Poll: Should Falcons pursue Adrian Peterson, Randy Gregory?
— MyAJC: Falcons’ risk-reward scale may tip in new direction

Reader Comments 0

47 comments
buellerbuellerbueller
buellerbuellerbueller

The ball still has to be thrown in the right direction and be caught (or held onto) by the receiver.     The NFL makes this a story to promote its shield in the off-season.

Whiznot
Whiznot

The NFL has historically been OK with DUI, wife bashing, gun play and a whole litany of bad behavior. In comparison, deflategate is a complete waste of time and a total joke. The people associated with teams that Brady and New England has been destroying for more than a decade are jealous and angry. I hope New England wins the next three Super Bowls. I can't even watch ESPN anymore without being disgusted.

Michaelee
Michaelee

I tell you what, when a team that can be as good as New England has crap like this to surface about them, it shows fans why they should be made examples of. Almost any player and especially quarterbacks that handle footballs day in and out during the season know the difference between footballs not having correct or close to correct air pressure in them.

This is BS by Brady and their Coach.

I hope they suspend Brady for at least half the season over this and the coach should get penalized also. You don't need to cut corners and cheat to win football games period.

797979
797979

The media demands answers from Tom Brady about air pressure but refuses to politely ask Hillary about the international bribery scam she ran while SoS...or Benghazi.....In fact, the Patriots ARE the Clintons. The reeking stench of cheating...cheating about things large and small....cheating even when doing so doesn't make a damn bit of difference....

swimfin2
swimfin2

@797979 Exactly. I brought this up yesterday. Poor TB should have said his emails and texts were on a personal server owned by the patriots and he deleted them but if we want emails regarding his family life with gisele, he has those! Over a month now and hillary is asked nothing about the corruption of the CF. 

Rory_Bellows
Rory_Bellows

@797979 Really? How much food do you have saved up when Obama invades the country to hand over to China? 

Stingshuh?
Stingshuh?

Who's responsible for being a cheating Ba$tard?

ChefTimDix
ChefTimDix

The League is at fault for turning over the responsibility of the balls to the teams.


Anyone besides me now wondering about the length of the yardage chains? Who's responsible for those? 


Lets not forget about crossbar heights...

MikeS777
MikeS777

I said in Jeff's other column that I'm actually surprised the NFL let all this out.  I thought this Wells report would disappear in the same furnace the Spygate tapes got tossed into.  The NFL seems far more interested in "Protecting the Shield" than anything else.  Unless of course you aren't an immediate contender like the Falcons and Saints.  Then they will show up with punishments and talk of integrity.

MikeS777
MikeS777

Nothing new here.  Back when Spygate broke, Belichick and the Patriots tapped dance around that too, pretending they didn't know they were violating the rules.  The worst part about all this is we will continue to hear from the NFL talking heads about what a model franchise NE is.

We heard the same excuses back then from people who wanted to pretend this is no big deal.  They tried to claim everyone films signals and that it's a non-factor.  Fortunately the rest of America is smart enough to understand that stealing signals so you know what play is coming constitutes a significant competitive advantage.

The rest of America is also smart enough to realize that rules are rules.  They are there for a reason, and when you break them, there are consequences.  It doesn't matter how many others are doing it.  You broke them.  You pay for it.

Clearly Brady likes his game balls under inflated.  I'm also betting he didn't give access to email and phone records because there is a trail there he didn't want followed.

Ric1957
Ric1957

They took a chance won the game lost all respect. 

DennisPreston
DennisPreston

Take a look at this site and then say how different the Patriots are than the rest of the league. The NFL has a leadership crisis in the commissioner's office - that's the real issue.


http://yourteamcheats.com/


DennisPreston
DennisPreston

Respectfully Mr. Schultz, research to corroborate your point of view? And note, per Wells' report, after the game 3 of the 4 Colts balls were under-inflated, which suggests...? (see p. 73). ALL of the Colts' balls were at 12.50 or under; all of the Patriots were at 12.95 or above. Do facts matter, or just opinions? 

AlwaysReady
AlwaysReady

Great journalism Jeff Schultz, nail the three headed monster cheaters.

Iluvnutella
Iluvnutella

Difference between Lance Armstrong and Tom Brady?

answer.....not much.

Buzzzz
Buzzzz

The Patriots are the Clinton's of football.  Most people wish both would just go away.

metitotktodd
metitotktodd

Jeff, you'd be great on FOX Noise.  You're so completely clueless.  Your writing is embarrassing.  Of course this was a 'sting' operation.  The Colts had questions before the game about what the Patriots did with the footballs and they told the NFL.  These are the FACTS.  The NFL did NOTHING with that info but waited to catch the Patriots in the act and compromising the integrity of the game.  The NFL is an absolute joke right now.


And again as Aaron Rodgers admitted, he OVER-INFLATES footballs.  Where is the outrage over that?  So it only matters if it's the Pats?  EVERY team in the NFL screws around with football inflation and the NFL doesn't care because they have no standards for PSI.  Why are you and every other idiot giving the NFL a pass when they are clearly incompetent?  I just want to know when the Wells Report is coming out on the Packers.

BostonBullDawg
BostonBullDawg

@metitotktodd It is my understanding that the league didn't simply wait to catch the Patriots.  They were presented with a Patriots football in the first half and measured the PSI.  It then gave them enough reason to warrant measuring the remaining 11 balls.


Where's the sting?

DennisPreston
DennisPreston

The Patriots have a long history of skirting the rules? Filming other teams' signals, for which they were rightly penalized. Where is the remainder of their "long history?" Isn't their history equivalent to the Falcons' piping in crowd noise (giving new meaning to the term, "Rise up," as in, "Jerry (sound guy), rise up the volume!")? What about Doug Johnson, as QB of Tampa Bay, PAYING $7500 regarding footballs? Like, evidence, maybe, and not conjecture or inference? The Wells report is an absolute joke, and his agent is right to push back because of the lack of context. If Brady loses endorsements as a result of this, he may have a legitimate case for defamation of character and financial harm. The larger problem is the leadership of the NFL. First, they egregiously botch the Ray Rice situation - that's a leadership failure. Then, with this, based on the fact that it's not provable and a few very weak pieces of evidence that have been pieced together to fit a narrative - where other narratives could just as legitimately be applied, with the same level of reliability - Goodell should have come out and said that the findings were inconclusive, and that the league will address weaknesses with regard to the integrity of the ball inflation process. Frankly, unless you start with the biased assumption that the Patriots are cheaters, you cannot reach that conclusion based on the report. Likely, Brady and the Patriots will appeal any suspension, especially given that the Players' Union will support Brady wholeheartedly, as his purported (not factual) misdeeds are so far below Ray Rice's. 

Wilbo
Wilbo

Jeez, Jeffie, you Brady hating' pootang, chill will ya?


You're obsessed.


Losers are often jealous of winners, but you're beyond the pale.

read this
read this

There is the CAUGHT  and then there is the  UNCAUGHT.....go figure. 

nam51
nam51

Only the guilty scream 'witch hunt' and 'politically motivated' and 'absolute joke.' The NFL has rules for a reason; enforce them.


Rules are not a joke. Break them, and you pay. Simple. 

Nshields
Nshields

@nam51 One year suspension for Brady and the loss of a second round draft pick to the organization for lack of institutional control . If Rogers admitting to breaking "rules" he shouldn't be exempt either. Integrity of the game is at stake here. Take a million from Kraft to show his sleepovers with Roger Goodell  wont be misconstrued as favoritism. Me I would take their trophy and call it a day.

GTPhenom
GTPhenom

@Nshields @nam51 Maybe a bit harsh (and this is coming from one of the biggest Patriots and Brady detractors out there), but they need to make sure that the message gets across that this should not be tolerated. I think if it's just a loss of a second round pick, the fined deserves to be a good bit larger. As for Brady, he is officially a first time offender with this, so I think a four game suspension, and much closer watch on his actions would be warranted.

metitotktodd
metitotktodd

Suspend Aaron Rodgers for a minimum of 4 games.  Shouldn't  Aaron Rodgers be talking too.  What did Aaron Rodgers mean when he said he likes his footballs OVER-INFLATED?  Why did Aaron Rodgers think Deflategate was a joke?  Could it be that EVERY team in the NFL fudges football inflation and the NFL doesn't give a damn?

This whole thing is an absolute joke.  I want to see Ted Wells investigate the Packers and Aaron Rodgers if the NFL is so concerned about fair play.  Teams have been tinkering with football inflation for YEARS because the NFL has no set guidelines for inflation and they've NEVER enforced the fine on the books for it.  This is just a witch hunt against a team everyone hates. 

GTPhenom
GTPhenom

@metitotktodd Far from a joke, actually. I love when someone wants to scream "witch hunt," even when there is precedent for that team being scrutinized. What exactly do you expect when this exact team was caught in a major cheating scandal less than 10 years prior, with the *exact* same organization at the helm. So keep complaining about being "picked on," and saying it's just because everyone hates the Patriots, because the reality is that the Patriots have no one to blame but themselves for not being more diligent in keeping their organization under tabs, and Golden Boy himself, Brady for not being capable of following the rules, and being non-compliant with this entire process.

BostonBullDawg
BostonBullDawg

@metitotktodd If they admitted immediately that it was merely preference (like A-A Ron did) then this wouldn't be nearly as big as it is.  It's blowing up because the Patriots organization and Tom Brady are lying.

nam51
nam51

Let me add: compare this to golf or baseball. If the Braves used an illegally hot baseball, or if a PGA tour player used an illegal, hot golf ball (they do exist) they'd have hell to pay.


The Pats should too. Suspend Brady for a minimum of 4 games, take a high draft choice, and fine the team $1 million.

KeeferDS
KeeferDS

@nam51 Actually, no.  In baseball if the ball or bat is doctored typically the player involved is ejected, possibly fined - that's it.  This is no different.  Anything more than a 1 game suspension is ludicrous.  The fact that they literally have no evidence other than "he said this - he said this" will make it difficult for them to inflict anything harsh.  I'm no Patriots fan, just observing the truth.  Vague, two-year old text messages are not enough, and that's really all they have.  

DawgNole
DawgNole

@metitotktodd @nam51

Why not do the same for all championship-caliber NFL teams?

That way, the Falcons might finally have a realistic chance of winning a first-ever championship.

nam51
nam51

This is NOT ridiculous. The core of the game is the ball; intentionally violating a league rule affects the outcome of the game; if it weren't important, there wouldn't be a rule. If you've ever thrown a real football in game conditions, you'd know a slightly underinflated ball is far easier to grip, throw, catch, and hold on to.


Brady refused to turn over voice mail, email and text records; it's not a criminal investigation, so there's no subpoena power, but by the same token, there's a much lower threshold for presumed guilt, and by not turning over his records, Brady is asking for the hammer to come down.


The Patriots have a long history of skirting the rules. Their arrogance is overwhelming; they deserve any and all punishment for this.  

GTPhenom
GTPhenom

@nam51 Perfectly put. This is cheating at the very core of the game, and the Patriots have shown an unreal level of arrogance towards the entire process.

Savdon
Savdon

Hmmm, loss of first round picks for the next 2 years. Brady rides the pine for 4 games.  Team gets fined a gazillion dollars.  That about right?

MichaelMitchell
MichaelMitchell

It is not ridiculous if true and it does appear to be true. Cheating in sports is not acceptable on any level.


I suggest as a penalty that they have to play next season with overinflated balls.

tmc
tmc

Wow, now this is being compared to a bank robery? How much further can this be over blown?

I'm not a Patriots fan and this whole thing is ridiculous.

Savdon
Savdon

@tmc How about this:  You know a kid is going to steal a candy bar.  You tell his daddy.  Daddy waits to catch him in the act.  He does.  Is that better?

KeeferDS
KeeferDS

@Savdon @tmc Except they didn't.   And how about PREVENTING him from stealing it so the store owner doesn't lose anything?