The Wells Report is back, and it doesn’t look good for the New England Patriots. The report indicated that the Patriots were likely responsible for the balls being under-inflated during last season’s AFC Championship game, and the NFL has already taken action in response to these findings. The team was fined $1 million, has lost some draft picks, and QB Tom Brady has been suspended for four games.
This seems to be quite unfounded because of the fact that the Wells Report was by no means definitive. Some individuals and organizations are going as far to say that the report was biased and couldn’t be binding. Ted Wells is an attorney, and has done quite a bit of work with the NFL and other sports organizations in the past. Needless to say, when it comes to things like this, he’s come to be seen as a trusted individual. Still, the findings in his report didn’t prove anything with certainty, and it seems very harsh of the NFL to punish the team and Brady this severely without conclusive evidence. However, Wells claims that there is direct evidence that Brady knew of the footballs and didn’t report it. One would think that this should be a two way street, but the Patriots are being punished and the Colts are not.
Yes, the Patriots won that game, but the Colts would have been affected positively in the same way that the Patriots were, and according to past findings, the balls were only under-inflated in the first half of the game, which was when the Colts scored their only 7 points of the game. Still, the report says that Brady “was at least generally aware” that team employees were deflating the balls. This seems to mean that he should be punished for not reporting it.
Wells has already publicly commented on his findings, mostly in response to the criticism that he has been getting. He’s made it very clear that his findings were based upon the evidence that he found, and not on bias at all. His past findings in other investigations backs this up. He’s been impartial elsewhere, and there’s no reason to believe that he would suddenly become a biased investigator. It’s more the NFL’s response to this that is the problem. The findings didn’t say anything conclusive, but, the NFL still punished the Patriots and Brady regardless. It seems rash, and more reactionary than anything. Brady is the highest profile player to ever be suspended, and it’s unclear what the NFL is trying to accomplish with this decision. Don Yee, Brady’s agent, has been very vocal about the decision and the report, and it’s more than likely right now that Brady will appeal the decision. What happens after that is unclear. It’s also unclear if the situation will be resolved by the beginning of the season.
It is important to note that Wells has admitted that the NFL paid him millions of dollars for the investigation. Whether or not this has affected his ability to make an unbiased decision is debatable, but this isn’t the first time he’s been paid for a project by the NFL.