In a rebuttal to the Wells Report released Thursday, the Patriots say a text message between equipment workers that used the word "deflator" referred to an employee's weight loss, and not the deflation of footballs.
According to the Patriots' annotations, the term "deflator," a central aspect of the Wells Report's findings, appeared only once in text messages and investigators did not ask equipment staffers John Jastremski or Jim McNally about their intent in using the term.
"Had they done so," the Patriots write in the rebuttal, "they would have learned from either gentleman one of the ways they used the deflation/deflator term. Mr. Jastremski would sometimes work out and bulk up — he is a slender guy and his goal was to get to 200 pounds. Mr. McNally is a big fellow and had the opposite goal: to lose weight. 'Deflate' was a term they used to refer to losing weight."
The Wells Report referenced a text sent from McNally to Jastremski on May 9, 2014, saying, "Nice dude…jimmy needs some kicks….lets make a deal…come on help the deflator." The report theorized that the term "deflator" referred to McNally's role in deflating footballs and referenced the quote at least five separate times.
The Patriots also took exception to the Wells Report's assertion that McNally referred to himself as "the deflator" in "text messages," given that the report only disclosed one such reference.
Following the Wells Report's conclusion that the Patriots more probably than not altered football before their AFC championship game win over the Indianapolis Colts, the NFL fined the franchise $1 million, took away two draft picks and suspended quarterback Tom Brady four games.
At the suggestion of Patriots owner Bob Kraft, the league also suspended McNally and Jastremski indefinitely.
The Patriots rebuttal argues that within the context of Jastremski and McNally's text messages, "deflate" was used exclusively to suggest weight loss.
"One can specifically see this use of the term in a Nov. 30, 2014 text from Mr. McNally to Mr. Jastremski: 'deflate and give somebody that jacket.' (p. 87). This banter, and Mr. McNally’s goal of losing weight, meant Mr. McNally was the 'deflator.'"
"There was nothing complicated or sinister about it."
- Alex Putterman