Deflategate is once again front and center in the NFL after Ted Wells, a prominent criminal attorney hired by the league, released his report on whether the New England Patriots intentionally deflated footballs during their 45-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts during last year’s AFC Championship.
In his 243-page document, Wells concluded that it’s “more probable than not” that Patriots personnel deliberately lowered the pressure of the balls to make it easier for quarterback Tom Brady to handle, grip, and throw in the 20-degree weather.
It’s yet another black eye for coach Bill Belichick and his squad who were also accused of Spygate, a videotaping controversy in 2007 where a Patriots assistant taped signal calls of the opposing team.
Due to the controversy and expected penalties stemming from Wells’ findings, Las Vegas sportsbooks have opted to remove New England’s September 10th season opener at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers from its betting lines.
As of Thursday, the majority of major sportsbooks both in Las Vegas and online have removed the game from betting due to the uncertainty of which Patriots players will be suspended.
William Hill, Caesars/Harrah’s, and Sportsbook.ag are just some of the operators declining odds on the Patriots/Steelers game until further notice.
“We’ll continue our efforts vigorously to protect the integrity of the game and promote fair play at all times,” Roger Goodell, NFL commissioner said this week.
The pressure is without question on Goodell to take action. His office came under much criticism in 2014 for its handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence incident in Atlantic City, and Adrian Peterson’s charge of child abuse.
The NFL had a terrible year in regards to perceived reputation, and the recent developments with Deflategate certainly won’t help.
In his investigation, Wells uncovered a series of texts and phone call exchanges between Brady and Jim McNally, the locker room attendant for the Patriots, and John Jastremski, an equipment assistant.
“Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls,” Wells writes.
Brady’s agent Don Yee responded to the report saying, “The Wells report, with all due respect, is a significant and terrible disappointment… This was not an independent investigation and the contents of the report bear that out.”
According to various sports media outlets, Brady’s offseason might extend to 2016 as rumors are circulating last year’s Super Bowl MVP could be suspended for the entire season.
Though persons in Nevada can openly bet on the NFL and other sporting events, residents in the other 49 states aren’t as lucky.
While many US citizens do place wagers through bookmakers and Internet sites based offshore, the expansion of NFL betting isn’t something Goodell seeks.
“We’ve been very open about our position that we are oppose legalized sports gambling,” Goodell said last month. “We think the integrity of the game is the most important thing.”