TIME Football

NFL Investigator Says He Found Direct Evidence Against Tom Brady

The evidence suggests that Brady knew about planned deflation of footballs

(NEW YORK) — The lawyer who investigated the New England Patriots insisted Tuesday that he found direct, not just circumstantial, evidence to show quarterback Tom Brady knew team employees were deflating footballs.

Miffed by criticism from Brady’s agent, Ted Wells decided to take the unusual step of holding a conference call with reporters, a day after the NFL suspended the Super Bowl MVP for the season’s first four games based on the report.

Wells said his findings would have been strong enough to convince a jury under the “preponderance of evidence” standard, which is used in many civil cases.

Wells released his report last Wednesday, asserting it was “more probable than not” that Brady “was at least generally aware” of plans by two team employees to prepare the balls to his liking, below the league-mandated minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch.

His voice frequently rising Tuesday, Wells testily rebutted assertions from Don Yee, Brady’s agent, questioning Wells’ independence because his firm does other business with the NFL.

“What drove the decision in this report is one thing: It was the evidence,” Wells said. “I could not ethically ignore the import and relevancy of those text messages and the other evidence.”

Wells specifically mentioned two series of text exchanges between officials’ locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski. In one, McNally referred to himself as “the Deflator” and joked about going to ESPN. In another, Jastremski mentioned speaking to Brady the previous night, saying the quarterback knew McNally was stressed out by needing to deflate the balls.

“That is not circumstantial evidence,” Wells said. “That is two of the participants in a scheme discussing what has taken place.”

On Thursday, Yee had called Wells’ report “a significant and terrible disappointment,” suggesting that it “reached a conclusion first, and then determined so-called facts later.”

Along with denying any bias, Wells derided the idea that the NFL wanted the investigation to implicate a quarterback he described as “one of the most popular, iconic players in the league.”

“That does not make sense,” Wells said. “It’s a ridiculous allegation.”

Wells has conducted several other high-profile sports investigations in recent years, including the NFL report on the Miami Dolphins bullying scandal. To Yee’s assertion that he omitted key statements from Brady, Wells challenged the agent to release his full transcript of the interview.

“Nothing, I guarantee you, in his notes would make any difference in my decision,” he said.

He also disputed Yee’s characterization of the investigation as a “sting,” noting that NFL officials initially didn’t take the Colts’ complaints seriously during January’s AFC Championship game.

The Patriots wound up routing Indianapolis 45-7 that day, then went on to beat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl 28-24 for Brady’s fourth title. In the quarterback’s only public comments since the report’s release, he said that the scandal hasn’t taken away from the team’s accomplishments.

Brady plans to appeal his four-game suspension. The Patriots were penalized $1 million — matching the largest fine in league history — and docked two draft picks. Owner Bob Kraft has declared his “unconditional support” for his two-time MVP quarterback.

Wells said the Patriots were cooperative, with two major exceptions: declining a request for a second interview with McNally, and Brady’s refusal to turn over phone records. Wells said he had told Brady and Yee he did not need to see his phone and would have accepted a list of communications.

Wells, who said he bills by the hour, wouldn’t estimate how much his investigation cost the NFL but said “no question it’s in the millions of dollars.”

TIME Football

Tom Brady’s Agent Says Four-Game Suspension ‘Ridiculous’

“There is no evidence that Tom directed footballs be set at pressures below the allowable limits," Yee said Monday

The agent of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has said it was “ridiculous” for the National Football League to hand his client a four-game suspension over the Deflategate scandal.

In a statement released late Monday, Don Yee said the punishment has “no legitimate basis.” Yee says Brady will appeal the ruling, handed down after a report authored by attorney Ted Wells found it was “more probable than not” the quarterback had some knowledge that game balls had been tampered with before they reached the field in January’s AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

“In my opinion, this outcome was pre-determined; there was no fairness in the Wells investigation whatsoever,” Yee said in a statement. “There is no evidence that Tom directed footballs be set at pressures below the allowable limits.”

Yee adds, “We will appeal, and if the hearing officer is completely independent and neutral, I am very confident the Wells Report will be exposed as an incredibly frail exercise in fact-finding and logic. “

The NFL argues the punishment was justified by Brady’s failure to submit text messages and emails during the ‘Deflategate’ investigation. “Your actions as set forth in the report clearly constitute conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football,” NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent wrote to Brady, according to NBC Sports.

The Patriots also face a $1 million fine for the scandal.

TIME Sports

See Photos From Yogi Berra’s First Years in the Major Leagues

On the baseball great’s 90th birthday, a look at why he made pitchers so nervous

In 1949, when Lawrence “Yogi” Berra was just three seasons into his career in professional sports—before he had racked up all the MVPs and the All-Star selections and the Hall of Fame induction that made for a baseball cap brimming with feathers—LIFE profiled the relative newcomer.

Specifically, the 24-year-old Berra, who turns 90 on Tuesday, would hit just about anything that came his way. Though he was formidable as a catcher, it was his batting that induced anxiety in pitchers. “All season long he has been approaching the ball as if he intended to beat it to death,” wrote LIFE’s Ernest Havemann. “Opposing pitchers have no idea what to do about him, and are inclined to get highly nervous every time he comes up to bat.”

His teammate, third baseman Bobby Brown, described Berra’s approach to batting as follows: “Yogi has the biggest strike zone in the U.S. It goes from his ankles to his nose, and from his breastbone as far out as he can reach.” And Brown wasn’t exaggerating, as Havemann continued: “Yogi can use his bat like a golfer blasting the ball out of a sand trap, like a traffic cop reaching toward the far line of cars with a nightstick, or like a man with a swatter straining for a mosquito on the ceiling.”

Unconventional as it may have been, Berra’s skill led to a decorated career with the Yankees, followed by a brief stint playing for the Mets and coaching gigs with the Mets, Yankees and Astros. Off the field, he enjoyed a long marriage to his wife Carmen, with whom LIFE photographed him when the two were expecting the first of their two sons. “The moral seems to be that you can’t get a good man down,” Havemann wrote. “Yogi is a good man.”

Liz Ronk, who edited this gallery, is the Photo Editor for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter at @LizabethRonk.

TIME Cricket

Kevin Pietersen Told He Will Not Play Cricket for England This Summer

<> at SWALEC Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Cardiff, Wales.
Stu Forster—2015 Getty Images Surrey player Kevin Pietersen looks on before day one of the LV County Championships Division Two match between Glamorgan and Surrey at SWALEC Stadium on April 19, 2015 in Cardiff, Wales.

News comes after batsman makes his career best score

England cricketer Kevin Pietersen — one of the most prolific run-scorers in the history of the sport — was told this week that he would not be representing England again, the BBC reports.

The news, conveyed to Pietersen by England’s new director of cricket Andrew Strauss, came just hours after the batsman notched his highest-ever individual score, making 326 for county side Surrey against Leicestershire.

“We decided it was in the best short-term interests for Pietersen not to be part of the team,” Strauss told reporters.”Over months and years the trust between him and the ECB has eroded. There is a massive trust issue between me and Kevin. I wish it wasn’t the case. I can’t give him any guarantees but nobody knows what will happen in the future.”

Before the meeting with Strauss, Pietersen, 34, told reporters: “What more can I do? All I can do is score runs.”

South African-born Pietersen was sacked from the England squad in 2012 over reports that he sent text messages critical of English players to members of the South African team.

He then played for Sunrisers Hyderabad in the lucrative Indian Premier League and negotiated a release from them in order to resume English county cricket in a bid to get recalled by England.

Strauss is expected to confirm the decision not to recall Pietersen in a press conference on Tuesday.

[BBC]

TIME Basketball

Watch High School Dunk Sensation Derrick Jones in Action

Like dunks? Here you go

Pennsylvania High School senior Derrick Jones is making the case that the NBA dunk contest should not be restricted to, well, NBA players.

In a video making the rounds on social media, the 6-ft. 6-in. UNLV commit not only pulls off Michael Jordan’s iconic free-throw-line jam but he one-ups the legend by adding a smooth windmill move to the mix.

Jones is considered by many to be the best dunker in high school basketball and his victory in an absolutely mind-boggling high school dunk contest in April may have cemented that status. But if out-jamming His Airness isn’t convincing enough, here some other examples the kid’s capabilities.

He’s looking down into the rim on this one.

Normal players can’t dunk over four other people, can they?

Blake Griffin and Zach LaVine better watch out; there is a new cat in town.

TIME Soccer

Soccer Star Cristiano Ronaldo Gives Millions to Nepal Earthquake Relief

Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid looks on prior to the start the la Liga match between Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Madrid CF at San Mames Stadium in Bilbao, Spain on March 7, 2015.
Juan Manuel Serrano Arce—Getty Images Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid looks on prior to the start the La Liga match between Athletic Club Bilbao and Real Madrid at San Mames Stadium in Bilbao, Spain, on March 7, 2015

The soccer icon is well known for his acts of charity

UPDATE APPENDED

Cristiano Ronaldo is an expert at striking fear into the hearts of defenders, but off the soccer pitch he’s proved time and again that he’s one of the nicest guys in sports. And the superstar did so yet again recently, donating nearly $8 million to help global charity Save the Children carry out its earthquake-relief efforts in Nepal.

French magazine So Foot reported that Ronaldo donated €7 million (or $7.8 million) to the charity, because he wears No. 7 for his club Real Madrid and country Portugal. He also urged his 102 million Facebook followers to donate as well, according to Sports Illustrated.

Ronaldo is known for his philanthropic endeavors, having donated millions to children in Gaza as well as tsunami-relief efforts in Indonesia. He has also paid individual children’s medical bills on multiple occasions.

Nepal was devastated by a 7.8-magnitude quake on April 25 that has already claimed over 8,000 lives.

Update: Save the Children says the report that Ronaldo gave it a large donation is false. TIME has reached out to the soccer player’s agent for comment.

Read next: 6 Ways You Can Give to Nepal Earthquake Relief

TIME

Why the Tom Brady Suspension Is Ridiculous

Given the thin evidence tying Brady directly to Deflategate, a four-game suspension makes little sense

Tom Brady and his people haven’t exactly carried themselves with aplomb during this whole Deflategate episode. Earlier this year, in a pre-Super Bowl news conference, Brady tried to deflect the seriousness of New England’s alleged air pressure tampering during January’s AFC title game by bringing terrorists into the conversation. That’s never a good idea. (“This isn’t ISIS,” Brady said. “You know, no one’s dying.”) Brady refused to hand over any text or email records during attorney Ted Wells’ investigation, even though Wells was prepared to let Brady’s lawyer control the production of such records—a layup for the defense if there ever was one.

Also, it sure seems like Brady sold out a powerless locker room lackey when he told investigators that he did not even know the identity of Jim McNally, the man accused of carrying out the deflation deed. And Brady’s agent called the flaws of Wells report, which concluded that the Pats star was likely “generally aware” of the deflation scheme, “tragic.” Again, never a good idea introducing such a word into a discussion on psi.

So it’s tempting to cheer the comeuppance of Tom Brady, the all-too-perfect quarterback of the NFL’s most villainous team. The NFL suspended him Monday, without pay, for four regular season games, while fining the Pats a million bucks and taking away the team’s first-round draft pick in 2016, and fourth-rounder in 2017. But please resist cheering the NFL’s sentence. Because it’s ridiculous.

For what it’s worth, I’m not from Boston, and not a Pats fan. But while you and I may bet that Brady did at least tacitly sign off on puncturing the footballs, the evidence in the Wells report directly trying Brady to Deflategate is thin. Wells largely bases his conclusion on the fact that Brady made a bunch of phone calls to equipment assistant John Jastremski after the controversy went public; Brady had not called the guy in the prior six months. Were they getting their stories straight? Maybe. But is it plausible that Brady was just insanely curious to find out what Jastremski knew, given the story was spiraling out of control, and many people were labeling Brady a cheat? Totally.

Bottom line: this penalty is convenient for the NFL. So what if Roger Goodell peeves off Pats fans, and even Brady? If he had let Brady off easy, on the other hand, he’d have to hear howls from other team owners, the press and millions of fans across the country that he was just protecting Pats owner Robert Kraft—Goodell’s most visible defender during the Ray Rice mess—and the NFL’s biggest star.

Instead, he gets to be the tough guy. He’ll even stand up to Tom Brady, darnit, and teach him a lesson. It’s actually pretty easy to pick on the cool kid. You don’t come across as a bully. (Brady’s agent said Monday evening he will appeal the penalty.)

“Your actions as set forth in the report clearly constitute conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football,” NFL executive vice president Troy Vincent wrote in a letter to Brady. The NFL always nails sanctimony. This is a sport that all but ignored a public health crisis—head injuries—or decades. Confidence leaked long ago.

Brady deserves a little stain on his “legacy” for this. After all, Joe Montana didn’t need deflation. Let the sports bars say he’s a fraud. But don’t keep him on the sidelines to send a hollow message, when you just don’t have the goods.

Read next: 6 Surreal Takeaways From the Deflategate Report

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TIME Football

NFL Players Respond to Patriots Fine and Brady Suspension on Twitter

Brady's teammates are not pleased

Following Monday’s announcement that the New England Patriots were fined $1 million in the wake of the Deflategate investigation, and that quarterback Tom Brady would be suspended for four games without pay, NFL players took to Twitter to react. While some seemed to sympathize with Brady and the Patriots, others appeared pleased with the decision. Here’s a selection:

Chandler Jones, New England Patriots:

LeGarrette Blount, New England Patriots:

Dont’a Hightower, New England Patriots:

Donte Whitner, Cleveland Browns:

Sean Weatherspoon, Arizona Cardinals:

Patrick Peterson, Arizona Cardinals:

Steve Weatherford, New York Giants:

Jameel McClain, New York Giants:

Darnell Dockett, San Francisco 49ers

Matt Overton, Indianapolis Colts:

Overton’s right. Brady’s first post-suspension game is set for Oct. 18 against the Colts, the same team the Patriots beat in the AFC title game in January when Deflategate first erupted. As of early Monday evening, Brady had not yet addressed the suspension.

Read next: 6 Surreal Takeaways From the Deflategate Report

TIME Football

Patriots Fined $1 Million in Wake of Deflategate Report

The penalties come in the wake of the Deflategate investigation

The New England Patriots have been fined $1 million and star quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended four games, the league announced Monday, after an investigation found it was “more probable than not” that two team employees were involved in deflating footballs during the AFC Championship game in January.

Brady’s suspension for the first four games of the 2015 season will come without pay, but he will still be able to participate in off-season, pre-season and training camp activities, the NFL said. New England will lose its first-round selection in the 2016 draft and its fourth-round selection in the 2017 draft, and the two employees said to have tampered with the footballs have been suspended indefinitely.

Troy Vincent, the league’s executive vice president of football operations, outlined the rationale for Brady’s punishment in a letter to the quarterback.

“With respect to your particular involvement,” he said, “the report established that there is substantial and credible evidence to conclude you were at least generally aware of the actions of the Patriots’ employees involved in the deflation of the footballs and that it was unlikely that their actions were done without your knowledge.”

The Patriots won the AFC title game against the Indianapolis Colts in January and then defeated the Seattle Seahawks for the Super Bowl. As it turns out, Brady’s first post-suspension game of the 2015 season will be against the Colts.

Last week, Brady said the so-called Deflategate scandal hadn’t taken away from the Patriots’ win. “We earned everything we got and achieved as a team,” he said, “and I am proud of that and so are our fans.”

Read next: 6 Surreal Takeaways From the Deflategate Report

TIME Football

NFL Suspends Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady for 4 Games

Two equipment staffers were also suspended indefinitely

(NEW YORK) — The NFL suspended Super Bowl MVP Tom Brady for the first four games of the season, fined the New England Patriots $1 million and took away two draft picks Monday as punishment for deflating footballs used in the AFC title game.

The league also indefinitely suspended the two equipment staffers believed to have carried out the plan, including one who called himself “The Deflator.”

A league-authorized investigation by attorney Ted Wells found that Brady “was at least generally aware” of plans by two Patriots employees to prepare the balls to his liking, below the league-mandated minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch.

The Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts 45-7 and went on to beat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl.

Brady will miss the season’s showcase kickoff game on Sept. 10 against Pittsburgh, then Week 2 at Buffalo, a home game against Jacksonville and a game at Dallas. He will return the week the Patriots face the Colts in Indianapolis.

The Patriots lose next year’s first-round pick and a fourth-round choice in 2017.

The fine matches the largest the NFL has handed out, to Ed DeBartolo Jr., then the San Francisco 49ers’ owner, who pleaded guilty to a felony in his role in a Louisiana gambling scandal in 1999.

It’s the second time in eight years the Patriots have been punished for violating league rules. In 2007, the team was fined $500,000 and docked a first-round draft pick, and coach Bill Belichick was fined $250,000 for videotaping opposing coaches as a way to decipher their play signals.

In his 243-page report released by the league last week, Wells found that the team broke the rules again, this time by deflating the game footballs after they had been checked by officials. Although the report did not conclusively link the four-time Super Bowl champion to the illegal activity, text messages between the equipment staffers indicated that Brady knew it was going on. Investigators said Brady’s explanation for the messages was implausible.

“It is unlikely that an equipment assistant and a locker room attendant would deflate game balls without Brady’s knowledge and approval,” the report said.

Although Brady has issued only general statements in his defense, his agent, Don Yee, said the report omitted key facts and was “a significant and terrible disappointment.”

The NFL allows each team to provide the footballs used by its offense — a procedure Brady played a role in creating — but it requires them to be inflated in that range of 12.5-13.5 pounds per square inch. Footballs with less pressure can be easier to grip and catch, and Brady has expressed a preference for the lower end of the range.

Brady said last week that the scandal hasn’t taken away from the team’s 28-24 Super Bowl win over Seattle — its fourth NFL title since the 2001 season.

“Absolutely not,” he said at a previously planned appearance in Salem, Massachusetts, last Thursday night. “We earned everything we got and achieved as a team, and I am proud of that and so are our fans.”

Fans chanted “Brady” and “MVP,” then gave him a standing ovation as he entered the arena in the town made famous by the colonial witch trials. Since the airing of the scandal in the hours after the Colts game, New England fans have been unwavering in their support for the team, blaming the investigation on grudges by opponents jealous of the team’s success.

Read next: 6 Surreal Takeaways From the Deflategate Report

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