An agent for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has responded forcefully to allegations in a new report that his client probably knew about "Deflategate" — a scheme to deliberately let the air out of game balls in the run-up to this year's Super Bowl game.
The report is "a significant and terrible disappointment," Don Yee said in a statement quoted by Reuters. The report's "omission of key facts and lines of inquiry suggest the investigators reached a conclusion first, and then determined so-called facts later," Yee said.
The allegations stem from the AFC Championship game between the Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts. New England trounced their rivals but later the game balls were found to be underinflated.
Although the allegations were brushed off at the time, a comprehensive investigation was launched and the report from that probe was released on Wednesday.
According to the report, authored by Ted Wells and the law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkin, Wharton & Garrison LLP, it is "more probable than not" that Patriots personnel "participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules."
The report singles out Jim McNally (the locker room attendant for the Patriots) and John Jastremski (an equipment assistant for the Patriots) as having likely "participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls" after those balls were examined by a referee.
"Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls," the report says.
As writer Peter King at Sports Illustrated notes: "[With] no smoking gun, league commissioner Roger Goodell has to rule on one of the NFL's all-time greats with his legacy on the line."
King wonders aloud whether Goodell can find "enough sins" in the report to "come down hard on Brady and sanction the world champions for the second time in eight years."