While Patriots owner Robert Kraft initially suggested that fighting the league on its findings and its decision regarding DeflateGate would be a fruitless endeavor, it appears that the organization has elected to respond to Ted Wells’ report after all. It’s not clear yet whether Kraft will be formally fighting the penalties levied against the Pats by the league, but the franchise’s legal counsel published a rebuttal to the Wells Report today that is nearly 20,000 words long.
The response to the Wells Report, which claims to put the league’s investigation into context, suggests that no communication between Patriots’ employees refers to deflating footballs below regulation levels and no evidence that Tom Brady would have known about such activities (or preferred his footballs deflated below regulation levels).
The Pats’ report questions Ted Wells’ and the league’s objectivity, referee Walt Anderson’s actions, and Wells’ dismissal of a scientific explanation for the footballs’ low PSI readings in the AFC championship game. The report also, dubiously, claims that text messages referring to Pats employee Jim McNally as “the deflator” were actually referencing McNally’s attempts to lose weight.
While this report on its own won’t make the NFL reconsider its punishment for the Pats, the information and arguments within it figure to come up frequently during the NFLPA’s appeal of Brady’s suspension, and again if the franchise decides to fight its own penalties (lost draft picks and a $1MM fine).