With the NFL and NFLPA preparing to head back into court next week over Deflategate, an internal memo was circulated to ESPN staffers this week.
With the next hearing in the ongoing Deflategate case involving the New England Patriots scheduled for March 3, we want to ensure that reporting on issues surrounding the team are expressly accurate. To that end, we’ve prepared the attached one-sheet, which details the two incidents involving the team, for which they have been penalized by the NFL.
The document summarizes both Spygate and Deflategate. Some highlights:
A week after Estrella was stopped from taping signals, his confiscated tape was leaked to Fox Sports. On Sept. 18, 2007, the league sent executives to Foxborough, Mass. Patriots officials told the investigators they had eight tapes of game footage along with a stack of written notes on signals and other scouting information. The material went back seven seasons. The league officials looked at portions of the tapes, then contacted Goodell, who ordered the tapes and notes destroyed. The tapes were smashed and the notes shredded by NFL officials in a small conference room.
NFL leaks! Tapes destroyed.
This part was in red:
IMPORTANT DO NOT REPORT NOTE:
The Patriots were accused by an unnamed source of taping the St. Louis Rams’ walkthrough before Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002,in a report by the Boston Herald on Feb. 2, 2008. The Patriots strongly denied the report, the NFL investigated and the Patriots were never found to have taped the walkthrough. The Boston Herald later retracted the report and apologized. This is NOT Spygate. DO NOT REPORT THIS.
Maybe this should be sent to the NFL Network as well? But wait, ESPN doesn’t want to use unnamed sources? That doesn’t seem consistent.
Then they move onto Deflategate:
On Jan. 19, 2015, it was reported that the NFL was investigating the Patriots for deflating footballs used Jan. 18 in the 2015 AFC Championship. The Patriots defeated the Indianapolis Colts, 45-7, to advance to Super Bowl XLIX.
At issue were footballs alleged to be inflated below the league standard. Coach Bill Belichick said he had no explanation for the discrepancy and quarterback Tom Brady said he didn’t alter the footballs in any way.
No word of leaks, especially the most damaging one which came from ESPN itself.
The NFL hired outside investigator Ted Wells to head an “independent investigation.” Hours of interviews and millions of dollars later, the so-called Wells Report was released on May 6, 2015. According to the report, the NFL found it “more probable than not” that Patriots personnel deliberately deflated the footballs during the AFC title game, and that Brady was “at least generally aware” of the rules violations. Among the evidence cited were text messages between equipment assistant John Jastremski and locker room manager Jim McNally that implicated Brady. In investigating Brady, Wells said he was hindered by the quarterback’s refusal to provide his own emails, texts or phone records. But using Jastremski’s phone records, Wells found an increase in the frequency of phone calls and texts between Brady and the equipment assistant shortly after suspicions of the tampering were made public.
Did ESPN actually read the Wells Report?
Then in wrapping things up:
Brady led the Patriots to a 12-4 record and into the playoffs, where the team advanced to the AFC Championship game, but lost 20-18 to Denver. That sent the Broncos, not the Patriots to Super Bowl 50.