Deflategate investigator defends report

Lawyer hired by NFL to investigate Deflategate defends findings, says there were no preconceived notions

The lawyer hired by the NFL to investigate whether the New England Patriots improperly deflated footballs before the AFC championship game defended his report Tuesday in a conference call with the media.

Attorney Ted Wells said the NFL "certainly wasn't hoping that I would come back with a report that would find something happened wrong with the Patriots or [quarterback] Tom Brady. They wanted me to get to the bottom of the facts."

A day earlier, the league suspended Brady for the first four games of the 2015 season, fined the Patriots $1 million, and stripped the club of a first-round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth-rounder in 2017.

In his report, released last week, Wells determined it was "more probable than not" that the star quarterback was at least generally aware that two Patriots employees had conspired to prepare the game footballs to his liking. The majority of Patriots footballs in that game tested below the league-mandated minimum of 12.5 pounds per square inch.

After the NFL announced the penalties Monday, Brady's agent, Don Yee, criticized Wells' report as "an incredibly frail exercise in fact-finding and logic" and said the outcome of the investigation was predetermined.

Among other investigations conducted by Wells were ones examining allegations of bullying by Miami Dolphins players, and a probe into the dealings of Billy Hunter as the former executive director of the NBA Players Assn.

Wells, who almost never speaks to the media about his investigations, said he did so in this case because "this is the first time that after I've issued my report, that I find somebody is questioning my independence and in some way suggesting that I was influenced by the league office, and I think that is wrong."

In a statement Monday, Yee said he was present during Wells' interview of Brady, kept verbatim notes, and "[f]or reasons unknown, the Wells report omitted nearly all of Tom's testimony, most of which was critical because it would have provided this report with the context that it lacks."

Wells countered by challenging Yee to make the notes public.

"There's nothing, I guarantee you, in those notes that would have made any difference to my decision," Wells said. "So he should publish the notes and stop acting like there's some secret in the notes."

Wells said Brady, who is appealing the suspension, was "totally cooperative" in the interview but declined to make his texts and emails available.

"I told Mr. Brady and his agent I was willing not to take possession of the phones," Wells said. "I said, 'I don't want to see any of your private information.' I said, 'You keep the phone. You, the agent, Mr. Yee, you can look at the phone and you can give me the documents that are responsive to this investigation, and I will take your word that you have given me what's responsive.' And they still refused."

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