NFL-appointed investigator Ted Wells gave his first public comments on Tuesday following the publication of his investigation into alleged improper game ball deflation by the New England Patriots during the AFC championship game.
Wells notably discussed Brady's refusal to turn over his phone records for the investigation. Wells said that he told Brady he would accept printouts of phone records and that he wouldn't touch the physical phone, but that Brady still declined.
The Wells report, released last week, found that two members of the Patriots' gameday staff "more likely than not" deflated footballs intentionally. The report also states that it is probable Brady "was at least generally aware of" the staffers' actions. On Monday, the NFL suspended Brady for four games.
After the report's release last week, Brady's agent sharply criticized Wells' investigation, saying it had "significant and tragic flaws." Brady's agent, John Yee, said that Wells' report was not trustworthy because the league is a "significant client" of Wells' law firm and that "reports like this are generally written for the purchaser."
When I was appointed to be the independent investigator, no one at the Patriots, or in Mr. Brady’s camp, raised ANY issues about my independence or my integrity to judge the evidence impartially and fairly. In fact, Mr. Kraft, to my recollection, publicly said he welcomed my appointment. I think it is wrong to criticize my independence just because you disagree with my findings.
He also rejected the idea that the league had it out for Brady.
"That people at the league office wanted to put a hit on the most popular player, the face of the league, doesn't make sense," Wells said, according to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport.
In addition to suspending Brady for four games, the league also took away a first-round pick from the team in 2016 and a fourth-round pick in 2017. The franchise was also fined $1 million. Team employees James McNally and John Jastremski were also both suspended without pay effective immediately for their roles.
- Stanley Kay