The NFL continues to keep Ted Wells busy. Who is the man behind the Patriots' Deflategate investigation?
A prominent criminal attorney has found his latest client to be a profitable one. The NFL continues to keep Ted Wells busy. Just 18 months after investigating bullying accusations within the Miami Dolphins locker room, Wells—of New York City-based firm, Paul Weiss—has dug into another thorn for the nation’s top sports league: Deflategate. With a 243-page report released on Wednesday, after a 14-week investigation, Wells determined it was “more probable than not” the Patriots violated NFL rules by deflating balls in January’s AFC Championship Game against the Colts. Wells also asserted quarterback Tom Brady was “at least generally aware” of what was going on.
Who exactly is Ted Wells?
Wells was on athletic scholarship at Holy Cross in 1968. The Washington, D.C., native was one of 20 African-American students who enrolled at the Jesuit college in Worcester, Mass., that fall, after being recruited by a priest who wanted to integrate the predominantly white campus.
Though Wells left the Crusaders after one season to focus on academics, the school honored his scholarship. He became head of the Black Student Union, associating with a precocious—and socially active—crew (among them: future Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; novelist Edward P. Jones, who won the Pulitzer Prize for The Known World in 2004; and Eddie Jenkins, a wide receiver who won the Super Bowl with the '72 Dolphins).
The 63-year-old Wells, who declined an interview request, went on to receive his law degree and MBA from Harvard. Now a partner at Paul Weiss, Wells is one of the most successful defense attorneys in the country, with a client list that has included Mike Espy, Scooter Libby, Eliot Spitzer and Robert Torricelli.
"Four times, I've offered him a job," says Bill Bradley, the former New York Knick and U.S. senator. "But he's too good at what he does. He turned me down three times." Wells did say yes to Bradley once, though, taking a spot as treasurer on his 2000 presidential campaign.
Wells, who's been known to lock himself in a hotel room for weeks preparing for a big case, does have sports-related legal experience, having conducted reviews of the NBPA leadership dispute and Syracuse's handing of sexual assault accusations against former assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine.
According to the 2011 book Fraternity, which chronicles Wells's Holy Cross class, most college programs wouldn't recruit Wells as a center, because they believed the position required "sophisticated understanding of the game," implying that an African-American was incapable of comprehending such complexity. Now, Wells is being tasked with unraveling the complexities of the modern NFL.