NFL investigation finds the Patriots likely deflated footballs
A report released by the NFL on Wednesday found that the New England Patriots had likely deflated game balls for the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts on Jan. 18. Investigators not only zeroed in on two employees suspected of purposefully deflating footballs below regulation levels—John Jastremski, a team equipment assistant, and locker room attendant Jim McNally—but that star quarterback Tom Brady was probably “at least generally aware.”
The 243-page report draws from an array of sources, including interviews and surveillance camera footage, but the text messages exchanged between Jastremski and McNally provide a colorful (and at times expletive-filled) lens into what has become known as Deflategate.
The investigators say it’s still not clear when the duo may have begun collaborating, but the report provides one message that dates from May 9, 2014, in the offseason before the team’s run to a Super Bowl victory last season, in which McNally appears to refer to himself as the “deflator”:
McNally: You working
McNally: Nice dude….jimmy needs some kicks….lets make a deal…..come on help the deflator
McNally: Chill buddy im just fu-kin with you ….im not going to espn……..yet
McNally never commented on why he appeared to label himself the “deflator,” because investigators obtained the texts after they had interviewed him, and counsel for the Patriots refused an unconditional follow-up interview.
On Oct. 17, the day after a Thursday night game against the New York Jets, during which Brady had complained about the level the balls were inflated, McNally texted Jastremski. During the exchange, he appears to threaten to inflate the ball. (NFL rules dictate that balls are inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch):
McNally: Tom sucks…im going make that next ball a fu-kin balloon
Jastremski: Talked to him last night. He actually brought you up and said you must have a lot of stress trying to get them done…
Jastremski: I told him it was. He was right though…
Jastremski: I checked some of the balls this morn… The refs fu-ked us…a few of then were at almost 16
Jastremski: They didnt recheck then after they put air in them
McNally: Fu-k tom …16 is nothing…wait till next sunday
Jastremski: Omg! Spaz
The text conversation continued over the next few days. On Oct. 23, McNally joked about “deflating”:
Jastremski: Can’t wait to give you your needle this week :)
McNally: Fu-k tom….make sure the pump is attached to the needle…..fu-kin watermelons coming
Jastremski: So angry
McNally: The only thing deflating sun..is his passing rating
Both McNally and Jastremski told investigators that the “deflating” joke was not a threat that the game balls for the upcoming match against the Bears would not be deflated. According to the report, “They offered no reasonable alternate explanation for the statement that the ‘only thing deflating’ on Sunday would be Brady’s passing rating.”
In one exchange on Oct. 24, McNally appears to ask for shoes as payment for his services, apparently threatening to otherwise inflate the ball like a larger Rugby ball. McNally told investigators that “rugby sunday” was in fact a reference to over-inflated balls:
Jastremski: I have a big needle for u this week
McNally: Better be surrounded by cash and newkicks….or its a rugby sunday
McNally: Fu-k tom
Jastremski: Maybe u will have some nice size 11s in ur locker
McNally: Tom must really be working your balls hard this week
The next day, Jastremski asked McNally what shoe size he wanted.
Jastremski: Size 11?
Jastremski: 2 or 3X?
McNally: Tom must really be on you
McNally: 11 0r 11 half……2x unless its tight fitting
Jastremski: Nah. Hasn’t even mentioned it, figured u should get something since he gives u nothing
Fast forward to January 2015, and the Patriots are about to play the Baltimore Ravens in the playoffs. On Jan. 7, the pair appear to have discussed getting autographed items to McNally:
McNally: Remember to put a couple sweet pig skins ready for tom to sign
Jastremski: U got it kid…big autograph day for you
McNally: Nice throw some kicks in and make it real special
Jastremski: It ur lucky. 11?
McNally: 11 or 11 and half kid
After the game on Jan. 10, according to the report, McNally apparently received two footballs signed by Brady and also got his signature on a previously obtained game-worn jersey.
On Jan. 19, early in the morning after the fateful game, McNally spoke with Brady and then called McNally at 7:45 a.m. The call lasted 9 minutes and 12 seconds, according to the report. McNally told investigators that the conversation was related to his “curiosity” about “what the heck is going on.”
Read the full report here.