The man the NFL hired to head its Deflategate investigation has broken his silence.
Ted Wells defended his investigation into the New England Patriots’ use of deflated balls during last season’s AFC Championship game, saying the probe was both thorough and independent of the NFL’s influence.
Wells specifically responded to claims made by Tom Brady’s agent, Don Yee, who attacked Wells’ integrity and objectiveness in regard to the investigation. Yee described the report as "an incredibly frail exercise in fact-finding and logic” after the NFL announced Brady’s four-game suspension Monday.
“I think it’s wrong to question my independence because you don’t like my findings,” Wells said Tuesday during a conference call with reporters. “Mr. Yee is Mr. Brady’s agent and is trying to do his job. But I totally reject any suggestion I wasn’t independent.”
Wells went on to say there was no effort by the NFL to smear Brady’s reputation.
“All of this discussion that somewhere people at the league office wanted to put some kind of hit on the most iconic, popular player in the league, the real face of the league, it just doesn’t really make any sense,” he said. “It’s really a ridiculous allegation.”
In addition, Wells said the Patriots and Brady were only partially cooperative during the course of his inquiry. He also pointed the finger at the NFL, saying the league failed to take the Indianapolis Colts seriously when they expressed concerns before the game that the Patriots might use under-inflated balls.
In regard to Brady, Wells said the four-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback answered all his questions during an interview, but refused to turn over his electronic communications.
“I told Mr. Brady and his agents I was willing to not take possession of the phone, I don’t want to see any private communications,” Wells said. “I said, ‘You keep the phone, you give me documents that are responsive to this investigation and I will take your word for it’ and they still refused.”
Wells indicated the Patriots initially cooperated until he discovered Patriots game-day attendant Jim McNally refer to himself as the “deflator” in a text message. When he requested a follow-up interview with McNally, the Patriots refused.
“I asked for a second interview, I said I would go to New Hampshire, I would interview him in the morning, afternoon, night, I would do it whenever he was free,” Wells said. “And they said not only could I not interview him, they wouldn’t even tell him of my request for an interview.”
Wells also stated that he did not see any bias whatsoever on the NFL’s part during the course of his investigation.
Wells' report found it was “more probable than not” that Brady was “generally aware” of team attendants deflating footballs.
In addition to Brady’s suspension, the Patriots were stripped of their 2016 first-round and 2017 fourth-round draft picks and fined $1 million.