The process of breaking news is obviously a complicated one. How much information do you need to have before you go with a story?

In the case of the Outside The Lines reporting this week, it seems that the reporters involved came up woefully short.

otl_mcnally_d1_300x300
ESPN put the spotlight (literally in this case) on Jim McNally.

ESPN is without an Ombudsman at this time, so we won’t have an internal reaction on that front as to how those involved came to the conclusion that the information that they had was worthy of smearing a part time employee from coast to coast.

It’s worthy to check the writings of the departed Ombudsman, Robert Lipsyte for some prescient insight on how ESPN views journalism, and perhaps how they should view it.

In his final entry, Lipsyte writes I think that improvement is most needed in ESPN’s inconsistent execution of journalism, which does not appear to be the highest of company priorities.

He suggested a central news desk with a dedicated staff whose entire job would be breaking actual news. Currently the network just sort of taps into resources here and there as needed amongst its personnel.

This incident seems a perfect example of the flaws in the ESPN way of doing things. The initial report seemed so incomplete and raised many questions, but the main reporter, Kelly Naqi, (who is no rookie, she’s been at ESPN since 1987.) was adamant on WEEI yesterday that she engaged in “no speculation” and her job was to “literally just report the facts.”

She failed in her job then.

Jim McNally ended up at the center of a whole new wave of CHEATING! cries from around the country, ESPN First Take made comments such as “such a dumb attempt to cheat on the part of this part time locker room attendant.” and “this part time locker room attendant for the referees will take the fall for this, he will clearly lose his job and go down in infamy as the guy who went rogue and attempted to cheat.

The network even came up to McNally’s house here in New Hampshire and attempted to bully him into a comment.

ESPN then planned their Outside The Lines broadcast yesterday in which Naqi could take her bow as having broken open a new angle to the AFCCG story.

Except that the show was a mess. Their guests – one a former NFL official and the other a former official and head of NFL officials – directly contradicted each other, and then Adam Schefter unexpectedly called into the program and dropped a bomb, which essentially cleared McNally within 30 seconds.

After that, ESPN went into crisis mode. An internal alert went out directing all personnel that they were “holding off further reporting [on this story] temporarily until we resolve a few issues.” Despite Schefter’s report, the story was not updated on any ESPN site for a number of hours. The network later also directed staff to not attach the tag “deflategate” in rundowns on the story, preferring to use “NFL Ball” instead.

It’s not clear what the issues were that needed resolving, be they journalistic, or perhaps even legal. We know that the NFLRA demanded an apology from ESPN for what appears to be sloppy wording in the reporting – “NFL Official” vs “NFL Employee.”  Was someone representing McNally involved?

Schefter may have saved ESPN from itself. Had they continued along the path of painting McNally as the villain here, they could’ve been in deeper trouble with McNally, who as it is, should be considering his options.

The questions of what happened that allowed the original report to be published need to be answered. Even a loyal soldier like Mike Reiss is openly questioning the process:

If I’m a reader/Patriots follower, and passionate about the team, the natural follow-up is to search for answers. What happened? What was the process that led to the story being published, then altered, and the time lag in which it happened? I wish I was in position to provide those answers, but that’s not my job and quite honestly, I don’t know those answers. But it is my job to communicate with you and be honest and accountable. I’ve said in the past that I feel like an ombudsman would be beneficial for all involved when it comes to coverage of the Patriots/under-inflated footballs, and I include myself in that category because I’m far from perfect.

While in the past it has been fun to mock Patriots fans as being paranoid about the coverage the team receives, it sure seems like there is a concerted effort by someone (*cough*Mike Kensil*cough*) to dictate the coverage that is coming out, especially in this instance with ESPN.

It’s interesting to me anyway, that all initial “leaks” seem to be slanting in one direction, and then they are followed up by leaks that swing things in the other direction. It is clear to most by now that the NFL has screwed this up royally.

What is ESPN’s role in that? I think we deserve answers.

Update: From Tom E Curran: Strong NFL link to recent ‘Deflategate’ leak

It’s about the ties of Kelly Naqi’s husband:

More recently, Hussain Naqi worked for the New Meadowlands Stadium Company in East Rutherford, N.J. There, he served as Vice President of Business Planning and General Counsel at MetLife Stadium, the home of the Jets and Giants. Naqi would have worked closely with the league office on all the logistics for Super Bowl 48. The man in charge of “running” the Super Bowl for the NFL is its Vice President of Game Operations. He would speak to Naqi a lot. His name is Mike Kensil.

Ugh.

Advertisements

78 thoughts on “Will ESPN Learn From Its Latest Disaster?

  1. That a news entity as large as ESPN doesn’t have an ombudsman is ridiculous. And Lipsyte was right – they should have a central news desk, if not to break news, at the very least to oversee production. Apparently the left hand has no idea what the right hand is doing, or perhaps more accurately, doesn’t care.

    Like

    1. I think they know exactly what they are doing over there. They know they are not the WSJ. They cover sports and most sports fans don’t care how often ESPN is wrong. If the fans did care then no one would ever read Chris Mortensen again or watch NFL countdown for example. Journalistic integrity is not their priority. Their priority is clicks on their site.

      Like

    2. Problem is, even if they did, do you think it’d change how they or any other network does business?

      I don’t.

      The modern “News Network” is just a PR firm for whomever they slum for.

      Like

  2. You can’t just sue someone because they said something bad about you, unless you show willful ignorance of the facts on the part of the speaker/writer. Which doesn’t seem to be the case here – it’s lazy, sloppy journalism, but not libel or slander. And even if it were… you still have to either show that the statements (a) are “per se” slanderous/libelous, which is something so egregious that there are assumed to be damages (e.g. if ESPN said that McNally raped children or something equally evil), or (b) caused you damage, either mental or financial. And as far as I know, he hasn’t lost his job, and this doesn’t even remotely rise to the level of per se libel.

    ESPN would never settle with him. He’s got an incredibly weak case. Apology, maybe — but that’s PR, not a legal obligation.

    Protip: it’s INCREDIBLY difficult to sustain a slander/libel case except in situations where you’re intentionally disparaging a competitor’s product or service.

    Like

    1. The only possible angle McNally might have against ESPN is due to their idiotic bloviators of First Take and the like with their presumptions of his guilt. The report itself wasn’t wrong, just incomplete. I don’t think she or ESPN can be held criminally liable for that.

      Like

      1. He has been defamed here in Ireland where I am reading this and he would have a case to pursue against ESPN’s European assets and revenue streams which are substantial. I hope the NFL puts a team in London, just so the US sports media gets subjected to European defamation standards. It would be epic.

        Like

        1. He’s not an Irish, English, or EU citizen (as far as we know). He can’t make a claim under Irish law, unless he can prove that ESPN wrote and published the story in Ireland.

          You’re correct that UK/Irish defamation laws are MUCH stricter than those in the US. If memory serves, publishing a provably false statement, even innocently, subjects you to civil and potential criminal liability (although I think criminal liability only attaches if you have an intent to defame). You can collect something monetarily against pretty much anyone who publishes a false statement.

          Like

        2. That’s why outfits like Fox never even make it over there. But the NFL is increasingly in danger of oversaturating its market, aside from its ongoing managerial incompetence. I just don’t think international football teams are feasible. The sport’s too expensive–way too much equipment necessary at the organized level–to catch on at the youth level anywhere else on the planet. It’s the opposite of soccer and basketball.

          Like

          1. Sky News which is Fox (Murdock owns both) does quite well in the UK and Europe (and is the largest network in Asia).

            Like

          2. But they don’t have nearly the ideological slant that his American slander network does. And their people ran into pretty big trouble over that no-go-zones nonsense a few weeks ago. They got turned back from buying BskyB a few years ago too, out of monopolization concerns. I’m not saying the UK and Europe succeed altogether in keeping trash off their airwaves, but their rules are at least stronger than ours.

            Like

          3. I spend a lot of time traveling in Asia and I think Sky News is pretty similar to Fox News from a news bent (which is fine by me). I do not think it is ideologically more centered. I think both stations are Fair and Balanced 🙂 In my opinion Sky Sports does a better job than ESPN International as far as I can tell but I think that has more to with rights and ESPN Int coming to the game late than it does to any production decision.

            Having said all of that I think the the NFL going somewhere else with the Monday night package would be a significant blow to ESPN especially if it also meant a reduction in ESPN’s access to NFL Films and enhanced other network clips as they currently enjoy.

            Like

          4. I have a hard time believing ESPN will ever let go of that. I have little doubt they can outbid everyone else. A bit like Lance focusing on the Tour de France–it’s the signature event that maintains their position.

            Like

          5. I completely agree…ESPN would not let it go. However there is nothing that says the NFL has to sell them the rights to the broadcasts even if they cough up the most money. What if the NFL said…you can have our broadcast rights but in return we want oversight and/or final approval of all NFL related news and commentary on your stations. ESPN would never and could never agree to those terms. So then the NFL goes somewhere else. There are ways to make it happen…the question is how annoyed/angry is the head of the NFL TV committee at the way his franchise is being portrayed/slandered on a daily basis.

            Like

    2. They published his hometown and state and claimed they “knew” he was a cheater

      They made him out to be a corrupt individual even though he wasnt and they left him open to harassment by anyone who just wanted to find where he lives (an easy task to accomplish with a name and a state and town) and bother him.

      Hes not a public figure. Not a high bar on a defamation lawsuit

      Like

    3. However, McNally is not a “public figure”. So the “actual malice” standard (knowingly publishing false info or publishing info with a reckless disregard as to whether it is false) would not apply.

      Like

  3. “Oh, what a tangled web we weave. When first we practise to deceive!”

    New motto for ESPN and the NFL league office.

    Like

  4. Thinking about it, honestly what good would an ombudsman do for ESPN. The NY Times has one, Margret Sullivan, and she spends more time twisting herself into a pretzel defending preposterous positions than she does truly representing the readers demand for the truth.

    I think an ombudsman in todays social media world is archaic. Anyone with a twitter account, with access to a comment section or with a blog can and does do the same job more effectively. The real issue as I see it is a lack of reaction to the social media’s ombudsmaning (not a word but I need it to be one) by the parent organization in this case Disney. There should be a responsible adult in the room who stands up and says “we have completely screwed up, we are going to stop, apologize and going forward get rid of the vendetta while getting the story right.”. That is not happening even though they are being exposed as frauds by their own people.

    Money acts to incentivize many different behaviors. ESPN pays the NFL over $2 bill a year in rights fees. If Bob Kraft can find another network who is willing to fill that void…like say Netflix, HULU or Yahoo in partnership with Direct TV or NBCsports Net then ESPN would lose a huge chunk of programming and its insider advantage. We have all been employed by businesses that had an employee who thought they were indispensable, only to find that when they were fired the sun rose in the east the next day and business went on. Perhaps its time ESPN learned what the world is like without football. Remember when Fox out bid CBS for the NFC package, then CBS in fear outbid NBC for the AFC package…NBC went from 1st to 3rd in a year and 4th the following year. It was so bad they over paid for the Sunday Night package the next time rights were available just to get back into the football business.

    Like

  5. This incident seems a perfect example of the flaws in the ESPN way of doing things..

    Isn’t this how every news network “does things” now? They report whatever their sources dump to them as facts. All news networks and why not sports networks? They’re all either owned by or connected to these orgs. They just know whatever side (fandom, politics, etc) eats it up, another side will be angry and deny. All means “buzz”, clicks and impressions. Accountability? None. Couldn’t we argue that this is the entire culture journalism is now that led to Brian Williams? He’s not the first and won’t be the last.

    I looked back on the “credibility” of Mort and its pretty bad since 2008. I’ll paste the link up but the folks who went back and looked at stuff he’s reported show that it’s been quite shaky, yet he’s still on TV.

    I still wonder how much Bob Ley cares. He genuinely strikes me as a guy who cares but maybe he knows the reality that his employer has moved well beyond journalism, and he’s still trying to fight the good fight, just from inside.

    Like

    1. Since the beginning of time Weathermen have been wrong regularly and they all have jobs. Its just mission creep 🙂

      Like

  6. Some thoughts hearing the discussions this morning:

    – With what Kraft did for Goodell, in re: Ray Rice stuff, there is no way that if Goodell knew about the sting he didn’t at least tell Kraft off the record.
    I’d think Kraft is livid if this is the case. No clue what he’d do but I’d be making some Jim Irsay-style suitcases full of cash and finding the best PI/former-whatever cops and sending them to Irsay’s residence. This guy is a drug-addict and there’s no way that even some amateur internet sleuth couldn’t dig up some really bad skeletons this guy doesn’t want out there.

    You have to wonder if Kraft or someone with the Patriots didn’t do some digging and call Schefter up right before OTL @ 3pm. He clearly has the #’s at Bristol to interrupt a live show and access, with them knowing this (or someone who is sick of what’s going on). To me, that was more spite than anything.

    Media: You could probably do the same exact thing. They also love this stuff. It’s drama. It’s gossip. It creates pageclicks. See the WEEI presser announcing how much “Deflategate” created for them traffic-wise.

    – Apparently, the official who was fired for selling balls is a huge Jets fan.

    Why does all of this continue to circle back to the Jets and Kensil?

    The last thing the league wants (Goodell and responsible owners) is each owner turning into its own -stan and going after each other. However, it makes me think about that Rolling Stone article that had a quote of another owner or high-exec with a rival team labeling Kraft as a “defacto assistant commish”. You have to think that some of this favoritism might have spoiled over and we’re just seeing this now.

    “Where there is smoke, there is fire.” I have a feeling we’re seeing 5% of the reality of what’s really going on here.

    Like

    1. My guess is that it was someone connected with the Patriots who fed the info to Schefter on Wednesday afternoon. Schefter said in his report that “all this is on video that was turned over to the Wells investigation…” Where would the video likely have come from that was turned into the Wells investigation? The Patriots. Remember, after the Glazer report about the employee taking the balls to “another room” came out, the follow-up story specifically reported that the Patriots turned in video showing the man taking the balls into a bathroom for 90 seconds.

      Like

    1. stoolepres’s source for all that is SharksofVegas on twitter.

      Sharks also said back on Jan 26th that “Our source said THURSDAY NIGHT, the NFL has NO proof and no sanctions will be handed down. We stand by that.”

      Give them a follow if you are trying to stay up to date on the deflate situation.

      Like

      1. Been checking in with him from the beginning but I just noticed he did mention Kensil way back in late January. No clue if that’s his source but interesting. SharksOfVegas was the first to destroy most of this, but no clue clue of his credibility. Guys who their sole purpose is posting plays on Twitter usually are usually there only to sell subs to their site, you know?

        Like

        1. I know they are all about selling subscriptions, I dont gamble anyways, but I would have quit following them if the sources had been conflicting on deflategate. I havent followed them for anything else really

          Also think SoV sources are someone connected to Schefter, whos has been really accurate the whole time

          Like

          1. Wouldn’t be surprised there.

            It’s kinda industry trade that when you’re a trusted big source, but can’t report something due to conflicts of interest, that you have a guy you leak stuff to that can put it out there.

            Like

        2. I have been following SOV since late January however the first time I read Kensil’s name was in an ESPN report on 1/20/2015. The LA Times ran the same story on 1/21 and SOV tweeted about Kensil on 1/25. Barstool wrote that blog post on 1/26.

          The ESPN report stated that the investigation started after Jackson’s interception and that Pagano called Grigson who called Kensil who called the on field officials to check the footballs.

          http://espn.go.com/boston/nfl/story/_/id/12198323/indianapolis-colts-interception-led-question-whether-new-england-patriots-deflated-balls

          I am by not an advocate of ESPN and I strongly advise anyone who wants truth and fairness to stay away from them (aside from Mike Reiss) but I cannot help but notice the major players pointed out in that specific piece are who we now believe to be involved even if the details may be off a bit.

          Like

  7. My mom is the same way. She watches “the news” (mixture of everything). After the Brian Williams stuff, she finally understood why I haven’t watched or consumed any in years. Her question also was, “well, who the hell can I trust?” I don’t know.

    Like

  8. For what it’s worth, my take on all of this is that the report is so long in coming because a full, unedited report would expose the NFL as the dog-and-pony show that it is under Goodell, and he’s desperately trying to dig up SOMETHING that will take the focus off of that.

    Like

    1. Thought the same thing this morning.

      Kravitz’s suggestion its taking so long because the Patriots are guilty.. Others saying it’s because they’re scrubbing the Patriots from blame..

      Nope. You’re right. It’s more of the “who’s gonna be the kite for this, and how much hazard pay will they receive?”

      Like

        1. Have to assume Grigson was his source this whole time. He had this almost an hour once the game was complete. I remember him beating the drum loudly, and doing the victory lap the Monday after, once ESPN + the rest picked it up.

          So, NFL GM tells you one team is cheating/being investigated. You’d assume they’re not bs-ing you, right? Problem was, he was probably told they were caught and they had evidence, even though it doesn’t appear to be the case.

          Like

        2. Kravitz basically made excuses for Irsay last year after he was arrested with the drug paraphenalia and the huge wad of cash in his car. That’s all you need to know about him. He may, on occasion, be criical of the Colts’ organization’s football moves, but in the end he’s still an Indy homer and a pal of the ruling family in that oganization. His journalistic credibility goes out the window based on those facts alone.

          Like

      1. Well. I guess Kravitz is consistent. I will give him that. He always finds some way to spin anything new into a reason why the Patriots are guilty.

        I get why he does it. It’s all about his fan base and his loyal readers but where he loses me is when he plays the woe is me card when the backlash is too much for him to take. My point of view on this is if you offer your opinions to the world then you better be prepared to take whatever criticism of your opinions come your way.

        Like

          1. Not that I discovered this information above, but nice to see that members of the Boston Sports Media do read BSMW:

            Like

    1. That wouldn’t surprise me. Grigson’s statement the other day coupled with Dean Blandino’s (and others) pre-Super Bowl denial of a sting IMHO point hard to this being a Kensil rogue operation. I can’t stand Florio, but I think he has it essentially right this time (his speculation — Grigson calls Kensil (who is VP of Ops). Instead of following league procedure and giving NE a “if you’re doing anything with the balls, cut it out and we’ll be watching” warning, he keeps it all under his hat and decides to run a sting. This would explain why the refs didn’t bother to log ball pressures pre-game or at halftime. They were in the dark, other than perhaps a “BTW, if you see anything remotely hinky about the balls, call me” request from Kensil, which would explain why Yette called him when McNally handed him the unmarked ball.

      Like

      1. And, why they also never logged them before kickoff. I don’t think it’s ever done but don’t you think that if this was some league operation, they’d be damn near video taping the actual measurements?

        If what I pasted below is right, Florio was most likely being supplied by Kensil’s son, a former employee.

        Now, I have to think he turned because he realizes that this was a dirty (and/or) rogue operation, and he wants no part in it.

        Like

  9. Side commentary: I always, always see a lot of comments on this board that state “don’t trust ESPN (except for Mike Reiss)” or variations thereof. Which I, in general, agree with.

    I’d love to hear Reiss’s unguarded thoughts, though, on how he feels about working at ESPN right now. Obviously he’s probably paid better there (I’d guess a lot better) than he was at the Globe or MWDN, and that’s no small thing. But it seems fairly clear now that ESPN is, institutionally, heading in a direction that’s not 100% in alignment with his view of journalism and how it’s supposed to be conducted. We’ll probably never actually hear those thoughts… but boy, would it be interesting.

    For my part, Reiss is basically the only football writer I pay any attention to whatsoever these days. If you happen to read this site, Mike — keep on fighting the good fight.

    Like

    1. Well, given what Reiss is willing to say on the record, I think it’s safe to say he’s clearly PO’d with ESPN. While he hasn’t outright said they’re unethical stooges, he has put quite a few not-particularly-subtly-veiled shots at his employer into his chats and mailbags over the past few weeks.

      Like

      1. PO’d with, and embarrassed by. But I’m guessing he’ll stay–so long as the pay is good–until such time as he seems himself being hung out to dry for any reason.

        Like

        1. Agreed. I was impressed with his thoroughness in covering the early stages of the Aaron Hernandez situation, and since then too.

          Like

  10. All the conflicting reports – especially the ones about what triggered the investigation – seem to indicate that people are scrambling to cover their own behinds.

    The first thing that smelled fishy was the Colts player debunking that the ball felt different. Once that happened, in conjunction with the story unexpectedly getting so much attention, it became hard for Kensil and whomever to work together to keep their stories straight, and now it seems it’s every man for himself, which has led to desperate and contradictory leaks.

    Like

  11. Another “I could be wrong” piece by another one of the big players in the “Deflategate” mess:

    http://www.indystar.com/story/sports/columnists/gregg-doyel/2015/02/20/doyel-everybody-lost-deflategate-including-colts/23757003/

    Partial reversal. Generalizes the bad fans (people who say really disgusting stuff) as Patriots fans. This drives me nuts because, as a reporter, you’re supposed to be above this. Every fan base in this country has people who say racist, dumb, vile things. They suck. We can’t stop them. Nobody ever will. But, if you’re semi-intelligent, you know that they’re out there and a minority.

    Also, never stops for a second to think that he was being fed bad info or just a pawn in the game.

    There’s tons to pick apart on this one.

    Like

    1. I want to start picking it apart with this quote:

      “Not happening. If I assumed the Patriots cheated, well, Bill Belichick’s behavior during the Spygate scandal gave me license to make that assumption. And if the Wells Report concludes that cold temperatures deflated those footballs, well, my assumption will stand. Because that’s ludicrous.”

      Simple question. Why is Gregg Doyle making any assumptions?

      If he stopped making assumptions and followed the evidence he would not have to insult all NE fans.

      Like

      1. You kinda got that “tons to pick apart” incentive on my original post.

        He seems to imply the “well, I got taken for a ride” but the “but I had a reason”.

        Yet, part of his reason seems to be that he 1.) hates the team. Fine. I don’t care who you root for but part of being a journalist–or, at least it used to be–is separating this from your reporting. 2.) you, instead of being a journalist, blindly reported what was fed to you by someone who was possibly running a rogue “sting”, as “NFL fact”.. yet take no responsibility.. and, part of that stems from facing no consequence from sucking at your job, verifying nothing, etc. etc. etc.

        I expect this type of behavior from some fanboi flogger, like a Jerry Thorton, not some guy “working” for a “respected and established journalism outfit” … then, again, I think this is kinda standard these days,

        Like

        1. Unfortunately yes. There is no such thing as bias-free reporting or writing, but a reporter especially has the responsibility to search out and report facts. It was a strong instinct to be suspicious that led Woodward and Bernstein to keep so doggedly on the Watergate story, in the face of very strong opposition, and the same applies to any reporters who’ve had to dig for a story. But even the most hardened and suspicious–not that Doyel or Kravitz remotely qualify–need to be honest enough to realize when they have no case, when their facts are few or questionable enough to make their story a shambles. A more honest accounting of that–where the reporter might actually admit, “Yes, I was looking for evidence of wrongdoing, but these are the holes that appeared in the story which can’t be filled”–would be far superior to this. And that level of professionalism seems to be missing in most careerists in journalism these days.

          Like

    1. Felger is just a science denier. Doesnt think footballs can lose air in cold/wet conditions.

      Also doesnt account that the Colts and Pats footballs dont start at the same exact PSI

      Like

      1. No, he’s just raised the reasonable objection that atmospheric conditions would apply to all footballs equally. Callers who speculate that the Colts’ footballs were outside before being checked by the refs, and were therefore in equilibrium to outdoor temperatures, are only speculating. And both points are absolutely correct.

        Like

        1. Felger is assuming that every leak that he’s hearing about which footballs had which air pressure is accurate and doesn’t need context. The reasonable objection is that we don’t know any of these things at all, incuding any potential differences between how the Patriots and Colts prepare their footballs before they ever go to the refs.

          Felger asking people to “explain why the Colts balls were fine” assumes we have accurate info about all that. We don’t know any of that.

          Like

        2. Game day footballs can be legally inflated to between 12.5 – 13.5 PSI and then handed to the refs. If I start I my footballs at 12.5 PSI and you start yours at 13 PSI and they both lose .5 of a PSI due to the weather, my footballs will be underinflated and yours wont be even though we both started in the legal limits.

          Do we know what the starting PSI was for all footballs? no because the refs didnt bother to write them down. Recent reports from nfl.com have 11 of the 12 footballs were slightly under the limit. Can be explaining by potentially different starting PSI of both teams and the weather.

          Like

          1. Starting PSI? Nope.

            What I think we know:

            – There is a ‘legal limit’ as you mention above. The problem is that it seems like this is never, maybe rarely, checked. By checked, I mean the ref sits there with a gauge and actually checks the inflation of balls before bringing them out on the field.

            – Problem is that we’ve heard conflicting reports on this. First, some people can’t even get the units right (Mortensen). Yeah, that matters. 2 pounds is not 2 pounds per square inch. Very simple. Ian Rapoport (NFLN) reported this wasn’t the case.

            – Based on what I think we also know, there was no measurement, let alone measurement with a NFL official before kickoff. Without this, how the hell can you “nail” a team for deflated balls? Unless there is a smoking gun with a guy on the sidelines (Patriots or another team) sticking a needle in the balls, there’s not much you can do.

            – Apparently, they “measured” balls at half-time. Science tells us that pressure can be lost when you change the temperature, despite folks like Bill Nye (laugh) denying this. However, it goes back to the two points above. Were they under inflated to begin with?

            – If they were “underinflated”, why did the refs put their stamp on the ball? Procedure not followed? Someone tampered with them between kickoff and halftime? If it’s the first, the NFL has a ton of explaining to do. The NFL doesn’t want this. If it’s the second one, unless you can prove someone (Patriots) tampered with them, you can’t pin it on someone.

            So, we don’t even know if the balls were underinflated and how underinflated they were. If the Patriots balls clocked in between 12.0-12.5, which would fall under underinflated, that is a far cry from what Mort (and everyone else who piled on like Doyle, Florio, Kravitz, etc.) said. The weather explaination, as much as Nye and others don’t want this to be true, is actually true and could explain it. Is it the reason why? We don’t know but in order to punish someone, even in the NFL–which does not have to “follow the law”–you have to establish that it was something they did.

            Now, since all of this, what’s come out is that it seems like someone was trying to “catch” the Patriots doing this. And, moreover, it looks like they were doing this outside the books. The NFL, nor any league, wants some “rogue GOTCHA” scheme being run by folks who, for whatever reason, hate a team. Tit-for-tat between teams and rivals? You’d end up with mutually assured destruction between teams and a TON of dirty laundry aired. The NFL isn’t this dumb and knows this.

            Back to my point in the paragraph above: I get the impression that Kensil and Grigson were doing this w/o NFL authorization, probably because they knew that if they had run a formal NFL investigation, it would have destroyed the original narrative. I’ve (and many others) suggested that if this was the case, the NFL would have gone to the Patriots and told them to knock it off, so no “gotcha”. Or, someone would have done the same thing but off the books, again leaving you with the same as route #1 (no smoking gun).

            This whole latest “K-ball” thing also throws an entire curve in what could be suggested above. While they were K-balls, and not regular balls, if some employee was stealing balls, you destroy chain-of-custody. After Schefter came on OTL and completely dismantled the Naqi story, it brings you back to the “conspiracy” or “theory” I suggested above: someone involved here is hell-bent on finding something–anything–that they can nail the Patriots with. Moreover, to add to this, Schefter dropped the bomb that some NFL employee was stealing balls and selling them on the side. This matters because the Patriots can easily claim, which the NFL knows, that how do you know he wasn’t replacing non-K-balls? Chain of custody is destroyed.

            Since then, we’ve found out that her husband has a # of ties to Kensil. We’ve also found out that the same players keep coming up, the primary person being Kensil. If Grigson is also involved here, I don’t know. I get the impression that he had no problem being a player in all of this, to which I can’t see him escaping unscathed.

            If you’re confused, so am I. I know we’re missing a ton here but none of this seems “clean”. Asking the original question if the Patriots did tamper with the balls, really the only thing that can ever prove that is some sideline video of a Patriots employee deflating them. At this point, we’ve not. I don’t think they have anything because I have to imagine we’d already of heard it.

            Otherwise, the bigger thing (at least to Patriots fans) is what the hell was going on here? I’ve said before that if we were tampering with balls, then bring on the fines and lost draft picks. Fine. But, it also seems like there are a # of rouge NFL employees who have a very clear bias against the team. And, if what @SharksOfVegas has reported comes true (he’s been 100% right thus far), Kensil is going to be the fall guy.

            Lets take this a step further and say that this Wells Report finds nothing on the Patriots. We’re gonna wonder “WTF?” and probably never hear about what really happened. If you’re asking, like I am, about if the Patriots didn’t do anything wrong but were somehow setup by Kensil and Grigson was playing along, I doubt we’ll hear about it. Going along with how the NFL works, we’ll hear that Kensil is retiring to “spend more time with his family”, and never that something else was going on.

            Sadly, this type of thing would break websites and be “BREAKING NEWS” 24/7, but I don’t think the NFL wants anything like this to ever be in the open (see the Ray Rice thing). So assume that your “leakers” (Glazer, Schefter, LaCanfora, etc.) will not be fed anything. Moreover, each network will issue standdown orders to anyone trying to be the next Woodward and Bernstein (ESPN has in the past.. see the Favre stuff when he was on the Jets). The last thing they want is a rogue employee, who is so hell bent against a team, he fabricates evidence, etc, etc.

            Like

          2. Conflicting reports and conflicts of interest in the likely sources are what turn this story into a big pile of mush. And yes, the starting PSI matters, when you’re considering what the ending PSI was.

            Like

          3. Yes. There aren’t enough details. But atmospheric conditions apply to all footballs. Based on their starting states–temperature and pressure–an hour outside might have different effects. But citing the ideal gas law alone isn’t sufficient defense.

            Like

    2. I just downloaded the podcast and the title is something “Exposing Deflate Hypocrisy in Local Media”, so sound slike it could be on WEEI. I’ll let ya know in a few hours… 🙂

      Like

      1. It’s on WEEI, recapping what happened on CSNNE with Holley, Felger, and Borges. They’re going right at both of them. Several veiled shots fired at Felger from Holley and Jerry.

        Like

    1. I quit watching ESPN and going to ESPN’s website after the outside the lines report.

      They are a mix of the NFLs official PR firm and Brian Williams. There were so many unreliable reports from them along with word twisting that implied Pats guilt. I might as well have been reading the national enquirer.

      Like

    2. yes, the piece from “Patskrieg” was fantastic.. Bruce tweeted out the link, calling it “Maybe the best thing I’ve ever read”.. it is very good, very long but well worth the read. Highly recommend it.

      Like

Comments are closed.