Sunday, June 28, 2015

I found Tom Brady's Text Messages! (a.k.a. "The Five Million Days of Christmas")

Click here to jump straight to Brady's text messages...

Turns out all this Wells Report stuff was unnecessary.

All the time, effort and money that's been spent investigating the inflation level of the New England Patriots' footballs didn't have to be spent at all. That's right.

We didn't need:

139 pages of legalese;
103 days of investigation;
99 pages of scientific inquiry;
67 witnesses interviewed;
54 Figures and Tables;
4 calling birds;
3 French hens;
2 Turtle doves;

(all together now)


It doesn't even matter that Ted Wells thinks he proved his case. On a May 12, 2015 conference call, Wells said, "If I were sitting on a jury and the judge had charged the jury that it should apply the preponderance of the evidence standard, I would have checked the box that said, 'Proven'."

Oh, really, Ted? Would you really have checked a box on a piece of paper? Well, that's all the convincing we need! What are we waiting for? Let's go tie this here noose onto a tree and hang that lawbreakin' Brady feller!

Now, of course, I definitely would not have checked the box marked "Proven". If there was a box marked "Bullshit", I would have checked that one. But that's just me.

None of this matters, you see, because apparently, the only truly important thing here is Tom Brady's Cell Phone.

It's a music player. It's a communication device. And from the way it's being discussed, it's also an elusive treasure worthy of a Raiders of the Lost Ark movie. If only we could get our hands on that phone, we could crack it open like Indiana Jones did with the Ark of the Covenant, and all the secrets of this case would come spilling out for the world to see. So the dashing Ted Wells, complete with 1930's movie star mustache, swashbuckled onto the scene, with his bullwhip and well-worn Fedora, trying his best to bring that phone home for The Good Guys. Because the phone contains all of the answers. In fact, I bet it also knows who shot JFK, where Jimmy Hoffa is buried, the identity of the Unknown Solder, and the 11 herbs and spices you need to make Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Do you guys seriously believe that crap?

I can't go more than a couple of mouse clicks without seeing another keyboard philosopher popping off about Brady's phone:

"Well, yeah, the Wells Report is garbage, but Brady failed to cooperate, so he should still be punished for that."
"If he had nothing to hide, he would have gladly handed over his phone."
"He didn't have to give them his phone. He could have just handed over the relevant text messages, and he didn't even do that."

This cell phone stuff is the new rallying call for the pro-Wells crowd. It's the haters' Pledge of Allegiance, recited endlessly in the comment section of every Wells Report article and blog entry.

Patriot haters have few options these days. They've abandoned the science. They refuse to read the critiques of the Wells Report; in fact, they refuse to read the Wells Report itself, but every one of them thinks they know exactly what happened, and they know it the way TV preachers know that "Jay-sus" is coming back for us on Judgment Day.

Wells says he's proved his case. He was all piss and vinegar--that's two bodily function references so far, hope I can keep this up--about checking a box, but I noticed he didn't quite have the stones to say, "I think Brady's guilty". Could it be he's not as sure as he pretends to be? At any rate, Wells claims he's locked this thing up. That just leaves one question.

If he's proved his case, why does he still need Brady's phone?

"I do believe that if I had access to Brady's electronic messages and if I had received all of the messages, then it might have yielded additional insights into what happened," Wells said on the conference call. But that just begs the question. Why does he need additional insights? This is a done deal, right?

Mr. Wells has already checked his box. This is over. It's time to turn off the front porch lights and go to bed. Why is he still discussing uncollected evidence? Wells can't have it both ways: Either he's proved Brady guilty, or he hasn't. If he has, there's no need for any cell phone evidence. If he hasn't, then after $5 million, and enough paper to cover Kim Kardashian's caboose, his report is still inconclusive.

I've got some big news for you guys, but before I share it, I'd like to make quick work of the arguments I mentioned above:

In a 2010 sexual harassment investigation, Brett Favre refused to hand over his cell phone. Commissioner Goodell said that Favre was "not candid in several respects during the investigation resulting in a longer review and additional negative public attention for Favre, [Jenn] Sterger and the NFL." Favre was fined $50,000. No suspensions. He was allowed to go on his merry way, despite his lack of cooperation.

In the Wells investigation, Stephen Gostkowski, the Patriots kicker, also refused to hand over his cell phone upon being asked for it by Wells' team. Gostkowski was not fined or suspended at all. Gostowski has not been charged with any wrongdoing in this case by anyone. No one claims he is a part of this so-called plot. Why is HE withholding his cell phone?

Now that I think of it, I do not know of one player in the history of the NFL who has ever allowed the league to examine his personal cell phone, in whole or in part. But Brady was supposed to do so willingly?

You don't think it's a big deal. You think that people with nothing to hide should just allow their personal property to be searched. What if your boss accused you of stealing from the company, and asked to search your personal cell phone to find evidence to determine if you're guilty. Your personal cell phone, which you obtained on your own, not through your job, and which you pay for out of your own pocket. Your boss wants to search it, and if you say "no", he'll assume you're guilty. Tell me you'd be okay with that.

This isn't a simple matter of having nothing to hide. If Brady hands over that phone, or any of the information on it, a precedent has been set. Brady is a member of the players' union. By voluntarily handing over personal information in connection with a workplace issue, the union is effectively saying that they are okay with it, and the next time any player incident occurs, the league can say, "Brady gave us his phone; now give us yours. Or else."

The NFL is not a law enforcement agency. They don't have subpoena power. They cannot compel a player to hand over personal property. Roger "I never saw the Ray Rice video" Goodell has destroyed his own credibility many times over, and has repeatedly allowed his office to leak sensitive information, as recently as a couple of days ago. Anything Brady gave to the league would have been leaked to the media almost immediately. But you think Brady should have gladly handed over his personal cell phone without reservation? Sorry, you lost me.

But here's the kicker.

When the league was investigated by Robert Mueller to determine if anyone at the NFL offices had seen the Ray Rice video, Mueller examined dozens of employee cell phones. Employee work cell phones, which had been provided by the NFL. Guess how many personal cell phones Mueller examined? Go ahead, guess.

That's right, zero.

Because yeah, if I was employed by the NFL, and I was working with law enforcement agencies to illegally obtain evidence, of course I would do that using a company cell phone.

In summary, no player has ever handed over a personal cell phone, or even selected messages from one, to the league, and doing so would set a dangerous precedent. When the NFL itself was investigated, no employees were required to hand over their personal cell phones, even though those phones were an obvious avenue for investigation. Brady's actions were clearly motivated just as much by union-based concerns as they were by anything else. Also, in the past, a quarterback who failed to cooperate in an investigation directly involving him was given a small financial penalty and was not suspended.

But of course, logic rarely works on Hater Nation, an army of drooling zombies with only enough free brain space to remember a headline or two. To learn a thing, they must be slapped vigorously with it, so, vigorous slapping it shall be.

It's a funny thing about text messages: They have a sender and a receiver, and both sender and receiver has a copy of each message. If Brady, John Jastremski and Jim McNally were the main perpetrators behind the ball-deflation conspiracy, as the Wells Report says, and Brady was texting with them about said conspiracy, all we'd have to do is get Jastremski's and McNally's cell phones, and we could find out what Brady said to them! Right?

Jastremski and McNally are not players and therefore do not belong to the players' union. According to the Wells Report, page 30, "The Patriots also provided copies of select text messages and a call log retrieved from Jim McNally's personal mobile phone" and Footnote 5 on that same page states that "Renaissance Associates collected from counsel for the Patriots the Patriots-provided mobile phone used by John Jastremski".

So Wells and his team got a list of text messages and a call log from McNally's personal cell phone, and Jastremski's phone was given to them outright. And guess what happened next?

...Here it Big News!

I did it--I found the messages from Tom Brady's cell phone! That sneaky devil, Ted Wells, hid them where he thought no one would ever find them: In the Wells Report! But I got the better of him this time:

I'll give you a moment for the shock to wear off.

Better? Good.

So there you have them--the elusive Tom Brady text messages, the ones you think prove your case, and they're all full of "give me a call" and "you doing okay?" Where's your smoking gun?

"But Jastremski said he was 'nervous' on the morning of the 19th," you say. "What would he have to be nervous about if he was innocent?"

So the national news media was exploding over allegations about the inflation level of the Patriots' footballs, and the guy responsible for inflating them was not supposed to worry? Knowing you did nothing wrong is one thing; having your bosses, or anyone else, actually believe you is entirely another. Jastremski was likely thinking, correctly, that he was going to be shoved under a microscope, and that, whether he tells the truth or not, some people would always doubt him. Pretty much no one had ever heard of the Ideal Gas Law, and most people didn't know it was possible for a football to lose pressure in the cold. Why wouldn't he be nervous?

But it gets better.

According to page 71 of the Wells Report, Dave Schoenfeld, Head Equipment Manager for the Patriots, approached Jastremski at the start of the second half and told him that "the NFL suspected that the Patriots had deflated game balls because the balls had been tested at halftime and were found to be under-inflated. Schoenfeld asked if Jastremski had anything to do with this situation, and Jastremski said that he did not." Page 72 goes on to state that "When interviewed, McNally told us that he heard Schoenfeld mention on the sideline that some of the game balls were “down,” but that he did not say anything to Schoenfeld."

According to page 95 of the Wells Report, Jim McNally was interviewed by two NFL officials on the night of the game for 30-45 minutes, and during that inteview, they asked McNally about deflating game balls, among other subjects. Page 96 goes on to state that, based on data extracted from Jastremski's phone, McNally called Jastremski from the road on his way home, at about 12:15am, and told him about the interview and the allegations surrounding the footballs.

After speaking to McNally, Jastremski exchanged text messages with Brenden Murphy, Patriots equipment assistant and ball boy, who apparently had nothing to do with any of this--neither the Wells Report, nor anyone else, accuses Murphy of any wrongdoing.

The Wells Report also states that, at 7:04am the following morning, Jastremski read a news story on his phone that suggested that the Patriots had deflated their footballs. According to page 102 of the Wells Report, Jastremski exchanged text messages with his boss, Dave Schoenfeld, shortly after reading the story. By the by, page 122 of the Wells Report states,
"We also do not believe there was any wrongdoing or knowledge of wrongdoing by Patriots Head Equipment Manager Dave Schoenfeld." 
Let's pause for a moment and recap.

It's a little after 7:00am on the morning after the AFC Championship Game. Jastremski has known since shortly after halftime--almost 12 hours before--that the NFL suspected that the Patriots had deflated their footballs. He has just woken up and read a headline story from a major media outlet accusing the Patriots of deflating their footballs.

He's caught. The roof is caving in on his little scheme! And so far, other than speaking to McNally, the only thing Jastremski has done about it is exchange text messages with Brenden Murphy and Dave Schoenfeld, two people who everyone universally agrees were not involved in any conspiracy.

John Jastremski's in a lot of trouble, he's known for 12 hours, and he's wasting time talking to bit players, uninvolved people who can't help him. Meanwhile, there's one very big player he hasn't spoken to so far. Have you figured it out yet?

The sky is falling, and as of 7:20 on Monday morning, Jastremski still hasn't contacted Tom Brady.

According to Ted Wells, the only three people who knew anything about this plot were Brady, Jastremski, and McNally, and the latter two already knew that the NFL was investigating. Brady was the one who dealt with the media, the one who actually used the footballs, the one man out of the three who stood to get into some serious trouble over this. Brady needed to know, more urgently than anyone, about what was happening. And yet, Jastremski had gone for hours without lifting a finger to do so. Why?

Finally, as you can see above, at 7:25am, Jastremski sent Brady a text message asking Brady to call him "when he gets a second". Not "Please call me right now", or "We got huge problems, buddy", or "Holy crap they caught us!". No, just "Call me when you have a second". Are those the words of a man whose world is on fire?

Think about it. Assume for a moment that Jastremski and McNally are innocent. Suddenly their actions make a lot more sense, don't they? Jim McNally agreed to an interview with NFL officials at 11:30 the night of the game, even though he had a 90-minute drive home. He didn't ask for anyone else from the team to be present at the interview, or refuse because of the late hour, though he easily could have. Instead, he stayed and answered all of the officials' questions voluntarily. Why would a guilty man do that?

And how about John Jastremski? Why wasn't be blowing up McNally's phone as soon as the game was over, so the two could strategize on how to handle this crisis? Why isn't McNally calling Jastremski? Why did McNally wait until he was on his way home after the interview, and again, why did he agree to the interview in the first place?

The 12:15am conversation with McNally lasted for over 30 minutes. This is when McNally would have told Jastremski all the specifics that the NFL asked about, and when it would have sunk in how much trouble these two were truly in. And how does Jastremski respond? By texting Brenden Murphy, the ball boy, who was completely uninvolved, because McNally mentioned that he had given Murphy's name to the NFL. So the lid's been blown off the whole scheme, and Jastremski's concerned about giving a heads-up to a ball boy? Isn't it far more likely that Jastremski didn't do anything wrong, and McNally didn't do anything wrong, and they resolved simply to tell the truth to whomever asked? That being the case, it's easier to believe that he would want to let Murphy know that someone from the league would be talking to him.

And the next morning, after Jastremski reads the story online about the NFL's investigation, he texts Dave Schoenfeld--his boss--another guy who had nothing to do with this. That makes no sense if he needs to create an immediate damage control plan, but plenty of sense if he's trying to figure out what's going on, and what could've happened to the footballs. If that was on his mind, he would've called Schoenfeld instead of Brady, and that's exactly what he did.

And speaking of Brady, what about his behavior after hearing the story? He says that he first learned about it while being interviewed on the Dennis & Callahan morning radio show, and the Wells Report does not dispute this. The interview started at approximately 7:00am and ended about 18 minutes later. So did Brady hang up and freak out? Did he blast Jastremski with phone calls or texts? Did he call or text anyone remotely involved with the preparation of his game balls?


Of course, Brady did not hand over his cell phone. But here's a list of people (other than Jastremski, who is already mentioned above) who did give the Wells team their phones, and after a thorough examination of each, it turns out Brady didn't contact any of them, nor did they contact him, at any time before or after the AFC Championship Game:

  • Brenden Murphy (Patriots Equipment Assistant / Ball Boy)
  • Zach Struck (Patriots Equipment Assistant)
  • Dave Schoenfeld (Patriots Head Equipment Manager)
  • Berj Najarian (Bill Belichick's Chief of Staff)
  • Jim McNally (private cell phone - provided call logs / text messages only)

Go back and read the 14 text messages between Jastremski and Brady again. Do they have an air of desperation, of two men trying to contain a scandal spinning out of control and blowing up in the media? Or was it simply one man, Brady, calmly reassuring the other that "he didn't do anything wrong"?

Do me a favor. Instead of just mindlessly repeating that "Brady didn't hand over his cell phone," why don't you tell me who you think Brady was talking to and what you think he was saying. All the major players have allowed their cell phone activity to be examined, and you've got nothing. What, exactly, do you think you're going to find?

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

De-myth-tifying the Wells Report

Whatever happens at Tom Brady’s hearing on June 23rd, there will be fans who assume Tom Brady and the Patriots are guilty. There are some who will stick to this belief, no matter how much evidence piles up to the contrary.

Nonetheless, it’s important for everyone to understand exactly what did and did not happen in this case, whether they are ready to admit it to themselves or not. If you care about the truth, please check out this very brief and reader-friendly summary of the Top 5 Wells Report Myths. And as always, keep those questions and comments coming!

Here are some handy links, in case you are looking for something specific:

MYTH #1: The Patriots’ footballs lost more pressure than what was predicted by the Ideal Gas Law.

MYTH #2: Referee Walt Anderson used the Non-Logo Gauge to measure the balls before the game.

MYTH #3: The Patriots’ footballs lost significantly more pressure than the Colts’ did, and the only plausible explanation for this is that the Patriots’ footballs were tampered with.

MYTH #4: Jim McNally’s text messages prove he was part of a conspiracy to deflate footballs after they were approved by game officials.

MYTH #5: The Patriots have been deflating footballs since at least the 2013 season.

MYTH #1: 

The Patriots’ footballs lost more pressure than what was predicted by the Ideal Gas Law. 

Status: FALSE

Even if you read the Wells Report the way Jimmy Swaggart reads the Bible, believing every word without question, the only way this is true is if Walt Anderson used the Non-Logo Gauge for the pre-game measurements, which he did not. Anderson used the Logo Gauge before the game, which, according to the Wells Report itself, means that only three of 11 Patriot footballs were below the expected limit. These three balls were short by 0.42, 0.32, and 0.12 PSI, for an average of just 0.29. Yes, you read correctly—one of the balls was only short by 0.12. And it gets better.

Logo Gauge Halftime PSI Readings As Compared to Expected Range (11.32 - 11.52)

Green = within / above expected range, Red = below expected range

The Wells Report used a “Master Gauge” which was calibrated for maximum accuracy, and even provided formulas to convert Logo / Non-Logo values to Master Gauge values. Once we convert the Logo Gauge readings to Master Gauge readings, three balls are still short—but by even less. Now the average drops to 0.22 PSI, and one of the balls is only short by 0.06. Please, I’m begging you, tell me that a 0.06 difference was the result of tampering. Please. Seriously, it would make my year.

Halftime Master Gauge Readings As Compared to Expected Range (11.00 - 11.20)

Green = within / above expected range, Red = below expected range, Yellow = less than 0.075 below expected range

Those of you out there with common sense are thinking the same thing I am. There’s no way Jim McNally went through all the time and effort to sneak the balls into the bathroom, then only tampered with three of them—and even then, only let tiny, imperceptible amounts of air out of each. But this is the Patriots we’re talking about here, so I’m sure a few of you are still sporting your tinfoil hats. Alas, not to worry: I’ve got another Ace up my sleeve, and it’s called moisture.

The formula for the Ideal Gas Law only takes pressure and temperature into account—not moisture. Anyone who watched that game knows that it was pouring down rain for the entire first half, and according to the Wells Report (Figure 26, Appendix I, page 53) the Patriots’ footballs lost about 0.40 PSI (0.38 on the Master Gauge) due to the moisture. Add that lost PSI back in, and every single Patriot football falls within the expected range as predicted by the Ideal Gas Law.

Halftime Master Gauge Readings As Compared to Expected Range (11.00 - 11.20)

(Corrected for Pressure Loss Due to Moisture)

Green = within / above expected range, Red = below expected range

Conclusion: Even without taking moisture into account, only three Patriot footballs were below the expected pressure range. After correcting for PSI loss due to moisture, NONE of the balls were below this range.

MYTH #2:
Referee Walt Anderson used the Non-Logo Gauge to measure the balls before the game.

Status: FALSE

According to the Wells Report, the amount of pressure lost from the Patriots’ footballs varies based on which gauge (Logo or Non-Logo) was used to measure them. Per the Logo Gauge, the balls were missing an average of 1.01 PSI at halftime. Per the Non-Logo Gauge, they were missing 1.39 PSI.

John Jastremski, the Patriots equipment manager, and referee Anderson both measured the Patriots’ footballs at 12.50 PSI before the game. This means that one of Anderson’s gauges reads similarly to  Jastremski’s. If we can figure out which one, we’ll know which gauge Anderson used before the game, and thus which of the above loss amounts applies. The Wells Report insists that it was the Non-Logo Gauge, but the evidence disagrees.

D’Qwell Jackson intercepted Brady in the 2nd quarter, and just before halftime, the ball was measured in the locker room, three times, with Jastremski’s gauge. The average of the measurements was 11.52. The other 11 Patriot footballs measured 11.49 (on average) with the Logo Gauge, and 11.11 with the Non-Logo. It’s not even close: Jastremski’s gauge reads almost identically to the Logo Gauge. Therefore, Anderson must have used the Logo Gauge before the game. Using the Wells Report’s figures, this means that the balls are missing 1.01 PSI.

The Jackson football seals the deal for the Logo Gauge, especially since Exponent’s logic for choosing Non-Logo is only slightly better than because I said so.

Once we have established that Anderson used the Logo Gauge, we can convert the starting and halftime pressures to the more accurate Master Gauge values using the formulas provided in the Wells Report. The Master Gauge shows that the Patriots’ balls lost an average of 0.97 PSI.

Halftime Master Gauge Pressure Losses

This Logo / Non-Logo debate is not only important because it tells us how much pressure was missing from the footballs; it also shows just how terribly Exponent missed the mark, and/or how willing they are to mislead people in order to tell their clients what they want to hear.

Do you think it was the Non-Logo Gauge? Tell me why. And if you manage to come up with a good reason, you can also tell me how Exponent missed it.

Conclusion: Anderson used the Logo Gauge, not the Non-Logo Gauge, for the pre-game measurements. The Patriots’ footballs lost 0.97 PSI, according to the Master Gauge.

MYTH #3:
The Patriots’ footballs lost significantly more pressure than the Colts’ did, and the only plausible explanation for this is that the Patriots’ footballs were tampered with.

Status: FALSE

First, a quick look at the amount of pressure lost from each football, according to the Master Gauge:

Patriots vs. Colts Master Gauge Pressure Loss Differential

As the table shows, the Patriots’ footballs lost 0.65 PSI more than the Colts’ balls. Assuming that all conditions were exactly the same for all footballs, there should not be such a big discrepancy between the two teams’ balls. But, like most everything else in this case, the explanation is lot less sinister than it’s made out to be.

When footballs are brought from a cold, rainy field to a locker room, they warm up and dry out. As they do, they begin to gain pressure, and their PSI increases. As the Wells Report itself says, the Patriots’ footballs were measured first, within 2-4 minutes of being brought into the locker room, and therefore did not have a chance to gain back much pressure before they were measured.

The Wells Report implies that the Colts’ footballs were measured right after the Patriots’ were, but is careful not to come out and say so directly. At the very least, per the Wells Report, the officials took 2-4 minutes to begin measuring the Patriots’ balls, and the measurements themselves took another 4-5 minutes, with the Colts’ balls warming up and gaining PSI the entire time. Even if the Colts’ balls were measured right after the Patriots’, that’s as much as a nine-minute discrepancy. And if the officials re-inflated the Patriots’ balls before they began work on the Colts’ balls, which makes more sense, then that number could be as high as 12 minutes.

Obviously, when one set of footballs is measured right away, and the other set is allowed to warm up and gain PSI before being measured, the second set will measure noticeably higher. The Wells Report does not deny this, but says that “…the timing of the measurements…does not on its own completely account for the difference” (p.43). Okay, but how much of the difference does it account for? If it’s only, let’s say, 10%, the Patriots have some ‘splaining to do—but if it’s 90 or 95%, Exponent has no case. Sadly, the Wells Report gives no indication whatsoever on how much of the 0.65 PSI is explained by the timing of the measurements. But never fear—we have a table for that.

The table below contains my best guesses as to the temperature of each team’s balls as they were measured. Admittedly, these numbers are estimated, but the actual temperatures of the footballs were not documented, so I have nothing but estimates to go on. If you have any suggested changes, I’m all ears. 

Comparison of Halftime Master Gauge PSI Gains

(click for enlarged view)

Well, looky here! According to our table, virtually all of the discrepancy between the teams’ pressure readings can be explained by the timing of the measurements. We’re down to 0.06 PSI (0.65 - 0.59) of unexplained pressure loss, which is pretty amazing, given that we haven’t even taken into account the Wells Report’s admission that some of the balls were wet, and some were dry. How do we know that we aren’t comparing wet Patriot footballs against dry Colts footballs (which gain back PSI faster)? We don’t, and we never will. We also have no proof at all that each ball was the same exact temperature. Yes, we know how cold it was outside, but individual balls could have varied based on how and where they were stored.

Conclusion: The Patriots’ footballs were measured before the Colts’. This allowed the Colts’ footballs to regain a significant amount of pressure before being measured, which gave the impression that the Patriots’ balls had lost more, when in reality it was a case of the Colts’ balls gaining more. 

MYTH #4:
Jim McNally’s text messages prove he was part of a conspiracy to deflate footballs after they were  approved by game officials.

Status: FALSE

First, let’s take a look at the famous text exchange from May 9, 2014:

McNally: You working
Jastremski: Yup
McNally: Nice dude....jimmy needs some kicks....lets make adeal.....come on help the deflator
McNally: Chill buddy im just fuckin with you not going to espn........yet

So let’s see: McNally’s calling himself “The Deflator”, and the Patriots’ footballs were deflated, so he’s guilty! An open-and-shut case! Right?


As we just proved a moment ago, every one of the Patriots’ balls was at a completely reasonable PSI level, given the temperature and moisture conditions that day. And yes, the Patriots’ balls lost more pressure than the Colts’ balls, but this is because the Colts’ balls had a significantly longer period of time to warm up and dry out in the locker room before being measured, as we also just proved. Translation: No one deflated any footballs!

I don’t care what McNally said in his text message. There is, quite simply, no evidence that an infraction happened! You wouldn’t charge a man with arson if there was no burned building. There is no unexpected loss of pressure in the Patriots’ footballs that we need to explain, hence no need to figure out “who did it”. Nobody did anything! Prove me wrong.

The Wells Report in Context provides explanations for the text messages, even though there’s no need to explain anything. Specifically, they say the “Deflator” nickname refers to McNally’s desire to lose weight, and the ESPN comment refers to Jastremski giving apparel to McNally without the approval of Jastremski’s supervisor. Essentially, McNally was saying, “Don’t worry, I’ll never tell”.

As I’ve written, people are fond of dismissing the “Deflator” explanation as “ridiculous”. But so far, no one’s ever been able to explain why it’s so ridiculous. They merely say it and expect us to believe it’s so.

I spent two minutes on Google and found 15 instances in which the word “deflate” referred to weight loss. It’s an obvious, and very common, use of the term. So no, it’s not “ridiculous” at all. Unless you believe all those references I found are part of a vast Patriots conspiracy?

Jim McNally was interviewed three separate times by the NFL. Then he was interviewed for seven hours by four attorneys from Ted Wells’ firm. He confessed to nothing. He implicated no one. After all that interrogation, the best evidence Ted Wells had against him was a year-old text message. And by the by, no one from Wells’ team ever asked McNally for an explanation of the “Deflator” nickname.

Conclusion: There is zero evidence that the Patriots’ footballs were tampered with, hence there is no need to invent a conspiracy theory to explain anything. Jim McNally never confessed to tampering, nor did he implicate anyone else. The text messages he sent on May 9, 2014 were ambiguous and subject to multiple interpretations.

MYTH #5:
The Patriots have been deflating footballs since at least the 2013 season.

Status: FALSE

This one’s almost too easy.
  1. Once again, there is no evidence—zero—that the Patriots’ footballs were tampered with in the AFC Championship Game. A full and accurate review of the information in the Wells Report proves that nothing but rain and cold temperatures were at play.
  2. The Colts complained that the Patriots’ balls seemed soft in their week 11 game against New England. This game was played in Indianapolis. Jim McNally was not there, as he does not travel with the team, and no one from the Patriots had access to the footballs after they were submitted to the officials. The home team is solely responsible for both teams’ footballs. There is no plausible way the Patriots could have deflated their footballs that day, and the Wells Report does not suggest otherwise.
  3. The New York Jets played the Patriots in Week 7 at New England. All parties interviewed, including Tom Brady himself, acknowledge that Brady complained loudly during the game about the footballs being over-inflated.  Jim McNally was at that game and was responsible for bringing the balls to the field, and the footballs were more than 2 PSI over the allowable limit. The Wells Report agrees that the footballs were grossly over-inflated. How could this be, if the “Deflator” was on duty?

    On October 17, 2014, Jastremski sent the following texts to McNally:

    I checked some of the balls this morn... The refs fucked us...a few of then were at almost 16

    They didnt recheck then after they put air in them

    According to the Wells Report, McNally and Jastremski were part of a conspiracy to secretly deflate the Patriots’ footballs after they were inspected by the officials. But if this were the case, no over-inflated balls would ever make it into the game! If an official over-inflated the footballs, as happened vs. the Jets, McNally would have deflated them back down to Brady’s preferred level before bringing them to the field. He didn’t.

    If McNally didn’t deflate the footballs as he was supposed to, and over-inflated balls made it to the field, why didn’t Jastremski mention it in his text? Why did he blame it on the refs? Wasn’t McNally supposed to “fix” the balls, after the refs were done with them? This was a private text conversation, and Jastremski had no reason to believe anyone would ever see his messages to McNally. Yet, he doesn’t mention the plot at all. Why?
  4. The Baltimore Ravens played the Patriots in New England the week before the Colts game. Ravens coach John Harbaugh told the media that there was nothing unusual about the Patriots’ footballs that day (The Ravens intercepted Brady twice during the game).
  5. This, from page 4 of the Wells Report:

    According to Anderson, other members of the officiating crew for the AFC Championship Game and other game officials with recent experience at Gillette Stadium, McNally had not previously removed game balls from the Officials Locker Room and taken them to the field without either receiving permission from the game officials or being accompanied by one or more officials.

    In other words, this had never happened before. What reason do we have to think that it did?
  6. No other team in the NFL has gone on the record saying that they thought the Patriots’ footballs were underinflated. The Colts claimed that it was “well known around the league”, but they supplied no evidence to back that up, and the Wells team did not find any. 

Conclusion: Neither the Colts, nor the NFL, nor the Wells Report, nor anyone else, has produced one shred of evidence to suggest that the Patriots have ever deflated their footballs. 

Friday, June 5, 2015

Logo vs. Non-Logo Matters. But It Doesn't.

So there I was, going on and on about Logo vs. Non-Logo, thinking myself so incredibly clever for proving that Anderson used the Logo Gauge for the pre-game measurements. I pretty much did everything but put a gold medal around my own neck and hum the Star-Spangled Banner. But guess what I realized as I was driving home today?

It doesn't matter.

Let me explain with an analogy.

You have two bathroom scales. After a week of dieting, you weigh yourself, and according to Scale #1, you lost three pounds; according to Scale #2, you lost four. Obviously, you didn't lose three pounds and four pounds--so what happened? How can the scales tell you that you lost two different amounts of weight?

The answer is pretty simple and boring: The scales read differently. That's it.

Of course, you've only lost one true amount of weight. Yes, the scales show different numbers, but there is just one actual amount.

Now, let's say you get your hands on a super-accurate scientific scale (We'll call it the "Master Scale"). After an hour or two in full geek mode, you discover that the readings from each of your two bathroom scales can be converted into Master Scale readings using mathematical formulas.

So you plug the before and after readings from each scale into your formulas, and you find that your true weight started at 151.4 and ended at 148.1, for an actual weight loss of 3.3 pounds. And guess what? After the formulas are applied, the actual weight loss is the same, no matter what scale you look at!

Now, just substitute Logo Gauge and Non-Logo Gauge for Scale #1 and Scale #2 respectively, and Master Gauge for Master Scale, and you've got it.

In my post, I say that "[T]he logo and non-logo gauges both show a loss of 1.01 PSI for the Patriots footballs (if the logo gauge was used pre-game) and they both show a loss of 1.39 (if the non-logo gauge was used pre-game)." We still need to know which gauge Anderson used before the game, of course, because this tells us the starting point for our calculation, but once we know this, the gauge we use doesn't matter in the slightest.

How about a little Excel porn to illustrate?

Halftime PSI Losses, Adjusted to Master Gauge Values
(click for enlarged view)

Look at that! As long as we adjust the starting PSI to reflect the discrepancy between the two gauges before applying the formulas, our Logo / Non-Logo Master Gauge losses are almost identical! But as you can see, the two figures aren't exactly the same. Why not?

Take another look at the Non-Logo Gauge's Starting PSI column. We reduced the 12.50 by 0.38 to adjust for the gauge discrepancy between Logo and Non-Logo--the average gauge discrepancy. The actual discrepancies varied from 0.30 to 0.45 during Exponent's study; the average is just a way of approximating that. And like all averages, it's close, but not exactly right 100% of the time. Nonetheless, the Non-Logo gauge average only differs from the Logo average by 0.03, a minuscule amount.

The bottom line here is that, no matter which gauge you are looking at for the halftime measurements, we see an average PSI loss of between 0.97 and 1.00 PSI on the Pats' footballs. The range is so tiny, and I'm in such a generous mood, that I'll even err on the side of caution and call it an even 1.00. To put it another way: The Patriots' footballs lost an average of 1.00 PSI between pre-game and halftime, regardless of which gauge measured them. Period.

And now for the obvious question: Why didn't Exponent figure this out?

Exponent used a Master Gauge in their report. They developed the conversion formulas. And then, after all that Stephen Hawking-level work, they didn't use their own formulas to figure out exactly how much pressure the Patriots' footballs lost. Accident?

The Master Gauge formulas would have provided a solid starting point for any serious study of actual pressure losses. Instead, Exponent attempted to convince us that Anderson used the Non-Logo Gauge, so they could in turn sell us the scary-looking data that went along with it--data that, we now know, is incorrect. Exponent told us that, on the Non-Logo Gauge, the Patriots' balls lost 1.39 PSI, and that on the Logo Gauge, they lost 1.01. The 1.39 reading is misleading and just plain incorrect--but it looks more scandalous, so it was used in the report.

Another interesting finding: The Logo Gauge PSI loss of 1.01 PSI is almost identical to the Master Gauge figure of 1.00. Clearly, the Logo Gauge is a lot closer to a calibrated gauge, and therefore more accurate, than the Non-Logo gauge. Hence the wishy-washy Wells Report wording we find on page 43:

"It was shown by our experiments that the Non-Logo Gauge was relatively accurate in an absolute sense when compared after the fact against the known calibration of the Master Gauge."

Oh really, bro? Was it relatively accurate? I bet your wife is relatively pregnant, too! How many millions did the NFL pay you for this report, again?

In case you want more of an explanation as to why Exponent is so Non-Logo Gauge crazy, check this out, from page 113 of the Wells Report:

"...the Ideal Gas Law predicts that the Patriots balls should have measured between 11.52 and 11.32 psi at the end of the first half, just before they were brought back into the Officials Locker Room. Most of the individual Patriots measurements recorded at halftime, however, were lower than the range predicted by the Ideal Gas Law."

Twenty-two individual measurements of the Patriots' balls were taken at halftime (11 balls were measured once each by the Logo and Non-Logo Gauges). Now, technically, it's true that half of the 22 measurements were below 11.32 PSI, and I guess you could interpret 50% as "most". But eight out of those 11 were from the Non-Logo Gauge, which, as we've already established at length, was not used for the pre-game measurements and is not relevant. Only three of the low measurements came from the Logo Gauge, and they are only off by an average of 0.29 PSI--including one football that was short by just 0.12, which is roughly the amount of air released when a bumble bee farts.

Halftime Readings Compared to Minimum Expected Range Per Ideal Gas Law
Green = within / above expected range, Red = below expected range

Summary of Halftime Readings Compared to 
Expected Range Per Ideal Gas Law

Get it? they had to add the ominous-looking Non-Logo numbers to make tampering seem plausible. If they only looked at the real (Logo Gauge) numbers, eight of 11 footballs would be within the expected range. These numbers strongly suggest that no tampering occurred, and we aren't even taking moisture into account yet!

The Ideal Gas Law only deals with pressure and temperature--not moisture. But moisture causes footballs to lose pressure, too--significant pressure. Even if a football has not been tampered with, and would otherwise be in the acceptable range per the Ideal Gas Law, the moisture would force it lower. Exponent merely points to readings that are "too low" and never acknowledges moisture as a possible cause.

Figure 26 (Appendix I, page 53) of the Wells Report shows that wet footballs would have lost about 0.40 PSI on the Logo Gauge due to the moisture that day (this comes out to 0.38 on the Master Gauge). Let's see what happens if we simply add this amount to the halftime readings:

Halftime Pressure Readings, Adjusted for Pressure Lost Due to Moisture 
Green = within expected limits, Red = Below expected limits

Whoa! I haven't seen this much green since The Sound of Music! All we had to do was add back in the pressure that was lost due to the heavy rains that day, and every single ball falls easily at or above the expected pressure range. Every single one. Are you still wondering why Exponent neglected to mention this?

How did Wells handle this little problem? He employed some L. Ron Hubbard-style logic to convince us that Anderson used the Non-Logo Gauge before the game, and then simply avoided adding the "moisture factor" to anything.

The Wells Report pushed the Non-Logo Gauge scenario because the numbers from that gauge help Wells' case. But we've now proven that the Patriots' footballs lost an average of 1.00 PSI, regardless of gauge. The fact that Wells is pushing one gauge over the other tells us that they either don't know what they're talking about, or they do know, and are hoping we don't figure it out.

Exponent spends a great deal of time building their Non-Logo case, and I'm way too cynical to believe that they were mistaken and that it was just a coincidence that they were so wedded to an angle that made the Patriots look guilty. If a scientific research firm gives in to ulterior motives like this, they have forever lost their credibility as far as I'm concerned, and I wouldn't trust them enough to read a digital clock for me.

And in the unlikely event that these were all honest mistakes, they should fare no better. If Exponent cannot be trusted to reach logical conclusions in a critical case such as this one, how can anyone have the confidence to act on their findings?