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:


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.



62 thoughts on “ESPN to Staff: Let’s Be Accurate When Talking About The Patriots Cheating Scandals

  1. I hate to say it, but this site has completely gone downhill and it’s sad to admit this as a guy who basically started reading it since day one.

    Bruce is now just as bad as the media members he rips into — completely lazy (he updates the site now, what, every few weeks?) — and the content is all the same. “Oh no, someone was a meaniepants to the Patriots and I am sad!”

    It’s really too bad because this used to be a great place to get updates and good, original commentary, but not anymore.

    1. I hear you on the lack of updates, but I think reporting on a memo (which no one else has) on how the biggest sports media outlet is planning to cover the local football team on a highly controversial issue is appropriate content for this site.

    2. Well, it is kind of fascinating how the media covers the Pats. The hypocrisy and willful ignorance on display is staggering. It deserves to be covered here. I suppose that he could comment on the non-stop “Panda is fat!” talk going on but that’s pretty much normal for Spring Training (remember the hullabaloo around Beckett showing up to camp chubby).

      The attempts to discredit and tear down one of the most successful dynasties in all of sport is worthy of coverage.

    3. I guess you have not been reading the periodic updates Bruce has been giving as to why he has not been updating this site as much. His new job, three children under the age of 10, and new projects taking up his time as he has gotten older. The site has not gone downhill. It has changed. He has automated the daily links so he no longer has to take the time to research and comment on them daily. Bruce admits he does not have as much time as he used to…but feel free to come in and make a negative comment. This site has always been a hobby for Bruce not a money maker. Not sure if you knew or understood that.

      For years Bruce has been looking for someone or someones who are capable of and willing to submit content to this site so it does not all have to fall on his shoulders. He does not have money to pay someone so it would be a thankless job. So far no one other than Chris Warner has taken him up on his offer. If you think the site could be better then I suggest you send Bruce an email (he is very good about responding) and I am sure he would be happy to have you contribute. If you do great…I look forward to ripping your first entry as a welcome to the family post. If you don’t and I suspect you won’t then please go back to where you came from never to be heard from again.

    4. I think it’s changed for the reasons ltd mentioned below. I can empathize as recent life changes have also reduced the amount of time I spend on secondary hobbies, which I consider this to be.

      Trying to find someone willing to post a “round-up”, for free, is local and also understands the ‘media’ element, isn’t easy. You do get exposure, but it’s also like a part-time job. I know it is not the sole reason, but a number of the folks who did this, have gone onto “real” (paid) work like Ryan Hannable. You usually can’t write for “another site”, unless it is your own, once you get a gig like this.

      I miss the more frequent posts, sure. We also keep the “updates” going via the comment section, which I get isn’t the same, but there is an active community here. If you were looking for something else, the only other Boston-sports-specific place I can think of is the SoSH media sub-forum.

      1. While not a “team” per se, the irony of the follow-up since he’s been gunning for a NFLN/ESPNFLN job since the day one @ the LOLbe.

  2. Some quote yesterday,

    “Red Sox principal owner John Henry said the team was deemphasizing its reliance on analytics in making major decisions.”


    Red Sox principal owner John Henry said the team was deemphasizing its reliance on analytics when measuring weight or body-fat of Pablo Sandoval.

    1. In the dictionary under miserable I would like to nominate this picture instead of an actual definition.

  3. Does anyone besides me find it astounding that a company like ESPN, with the resources and contacts it possesses, has to resort to having its editorial arm send out a memo cautioning the on-air talent to not report something (the walkthrough “tape”) as fact that turned out to be completely false ALMOST 8 YEARS AGO? This memo, of course, was sent out in the wake of ESPN reporting, for weeks, as the Deflategate b.s. was unfolding, that the Patriots “taped the Rams walkthrough” as if it actually did happen, even implying that their Spygate punishment was for the non-existent walkthrough tape and not for violating the NFL’s 2007 memo (not the rule, since you can’t, by definition, violate a rule that never existed).

  4. Well Tony you know everyone hates a winner and no matter how much proof we have that would exonerate the Pats They will be hated cause they are good .The squicky clean Manning is getting his Karma but if they would have lost the Super Bowl then they would have started on Cam .Doesn’t make it right but alot of people HATE winners.And as a Pats fan in PA. I get alot of crap from Steelers fans.My husband is a Steelers fans but he knows better than to trash my team.lol

  5. I have been thinking about Bruce’s post for 2 days now and I think we missed something. ESPN put the part about the Rams walkthrough in Red. I think the Patriots put them on notice. Mention it again as either speculation or fact and we are suing you. This is no small issue. It has come up on the network several times and they had to issue a reluctant retraction. I don’t think that retraction was well received in Foxboro. At the same time I think a lot of ESPN’s on air personalities are for lack of better words uneducated and arrogant at the same time. Most of the people this memo is aimed at are ex players who barely graduated high school never mind college or up and coming reporters who have no institutional memory never mind an understanding of events that did NOT happen 15 years ago.

    The more I think about it the more I think a memo like the one ESPN sent out had to be written. To us it is silly because we understand intimately what has happened with this franchise over the years. However I doubt very many of us could tell you the inner workings of the Ray Lewis case beyond…where’s the white suit or the Leonard Little case etc.

    With the publication of Peter King’s column suggesting the Pats should get their picks back ESPN’s brass has to know they have generally been on the wrong side of deflategate. They do not want to compound the issues as they report on the appeal. Heck I bet the first draft of that memo said “There is an appeal go the Tom Brady case happening in NY next week…do not mention it, discuss it, analyze it or do any thing else that will continue to make us all look unprofessional, inept and stupid.” But as with all things corporate other hands started editing it and the memo Bruce excerpted is the one that got circulated.

    1. I think you make a good point about the part of the memo in red. The Pats must have said something. While it’s true that suing them for slander would be a very difficult case to win, or even to get heard by a judge, it would still make headlines and the phrase “ESPN sued for slander” would be in those headlines. Given that JPP is suing them right now — and may actually have a legit case — the last thing ESPN needs right now is another negative headline pertaining to their reporting practices.

      1. I am not so sure if someone on air again said that the Patriots were punished for taping the Rams walkthrough that a libel case would be very difficult. All have been warned. I think ESPN is making sure it is covering its behind.

    1. Integrity, right, Roger? Starting to agree with Thornton and El Pres – this guy might literally be Satan.

  6. It is funny hearing any media source telling their own to report fairly. The media is so rabidly biased they make a raccoon with a foaming mouth stumbling around during day time look sane.

    1. The fact that she’s a practicing attorney AND a Texans fan, not a Pats fan, lends extra weight to her views. The haters and the Deflategate flat-earth society can’t just dismiss her as a “homer,” as they did with that brilliant MIT physicist who gave the lecture to McCann’s class — even though the guy said he was an Eagles fan, the “homer” label was still applied to him because, you know, MIT is in Massachusetts (even though its faculty and student body are truly international).

      1. It is truly baffling that people will discount any defense of the Patriots related to deflategate by pointing out that the person is a Patriots fan, grew up in New England, works in Boston, etc. It doesn’t matter how well reasoned their explanation is or how compelling their argument, the reaction is “Oh, he or she is [insert some affiliation with New England]. What a surprise. The Patriot are guilty.”

        Meanwhile, any sort of affiliation or allegiance on the side of the people accusing the Patriots or finding them guilty is ignored. The Colts personnel who made the accusation is self explanatory, but Mike Kensil worked for the Jets for decades, as did his father. Goodell grew up in the NYC area and worked for the Jets. He hired Kensil shortly after being named commissioner. Even Ted Wells’ family are Jets fans.

        Somehow, the motivations of the people defending the Patriots are scrutinized, but those of the people accusing them are overlooked.

    2. Stradley has been ardent in her belief that “if it can happen to New England, it can happen to your team.” People seem to be missing this point by saying the Patriots are “habitual cheaters” (they then point to things that are not cheating, like the Ravens game and even the f-ing tuck rule).

      1. I’ve often wondered what kind of treatment the 70s Steelers would be getting in today’s internet/24-7 media/storyline-driven/they must be cheating if they win so much world. That’s a team that: A) was later found out to be one of the great pioneers of better football through PED use; B) benefited from several shaky calls in the post-season during their Super Bowl runs, including a b.s. P.I. call on Benny Barnes (rule was later changed because of that call) which allowed them to blow open a tight game in SB XIII against Dallas, and a clearly blown call on an obvious Mike Renfro TD catch (ruled incomplete after an officials’ on-field conference) which would have tied the ’79 AFC title game at 17-17 in the 4th quarter — never mind The Immaculate Reception, which wasn’t during a Super Bowl season but has long been seen as the springboard to the team’s success later in the decade; and C) has been accused of deliberately allowing the field at Three Rivers Stadium to ice over prior to the ’75 AFC title game in order to slow down the Raiders’ outside/downfield passing attack (Oakland scored 10 points that day). Remember, the Competition Committee (run by Don Shula, coach of a Pittsburgh conference rival) DID enact a pretty significant rules change (the initial five-yard chuck rule, later “enhanced” by Bill Polian to curb the Patriots’ success) in 1978, and it’s long been believed that the Steel Curtain defense was the reason — it had to be slowed down and contained a little bit. Also, Chuck Noll may have been the Bill Belichick of his day. He wasn’t the most open, friendly guy with the media and he sure as hell wasn’t an entertaining interview. Would the Steelers be getting the same kind of grief from all corners of the football and media globe that the Pats have been getting since the middle of last decade? It’s a very good “what if” scenario, that’s for sure.

          1. You’re probably right. For one thing, the sports media in Western PA are “shameless homers” and they wouldn’t make it their mission in life to troll fans of the home team. it’s not Boston, that’s for sure, where contrarian negativity apparently makes you a “real” journalist.

          2. Not sleeping with your sister and being able to write legibly makes you a real journalist…things most press people in Western PA can’t claim.

  7. Anyone else catch the little dust up between Dickerson/Tanguay and IT4 from Friday night? Basically GD and GT went out of their way to say that IT4 is not a franchise player, and not someone you want to build around. In terms of franchise players there’s maybe 5 in the league so I don’t think it is as insulting as IT4 took it, but still with the season he’s having you could make the argument that he’s in that next level of NBA superstar. But regardless what’s the point of doing that? Someone made the point that crap like this makes it harder to attract free agents to Boston.Now I don’t want someone that needs to be coddled all the time and can’t take legit criticism, but when your getting hit for no reason at all, maybe they’re right.

    1. Wasn’t this a discussion w/David Price coming here?

      Fans/media too passionate?

      I get what you’re saying but then ask if a player can’t be professional enough to ignore fans/media, how would they survive unless they’re in some care-less, shithole market like Cleveland or San Diego?

      1. Listen if the moneys right anyone will go anywhere, see Carl Crawford. But to me that is a perfect example of what we don’t want happening in Boston again. I want guys who can handle the media, but the question becomes when does the media start working against the local team? You could probably do a whole thread on that one.

        As far as IT4 goes he’s under contract for a couple of more years so we don’t have to worry about him, but it’s the other free agents I’m worried about. Every team will have money this summer and max contracts will be given out left and right, going to crazy to see what some players earn.

      2. Isaiah is signed through 2 more seasons at what will be a bargain after the spending this summer. Night in and night out, he does more to help the Celtics win than Rondo (and I was a big Rondo fan). An absolute steal and we are lucky to have him. Now that he is an all-star, does he qualify as a “big splash” everyone in the media wants Danny to make?

    2. He’s not a franchise player, but those two guys, and Felger last night, were trying to argue that he’s “not a Big Three” type of player (as in one of a Bird-Parish-McHale troika, or one of a Garnett-Pierce-Allen troika). The guy is averaging almost 21 pts. and almost 7 assists per game, I believe, and he’s been one of the C’s go-to guys down the stretch in the fourth quarter — he wants the ball when the game is on the line. Quite honestly, he’s played better this year than Ray Allen did during the 2007-2008 championship season (Allen played better in subsequent years with the Celtics, but that wasn’t one of his best seasons and he underperformed in the playoffs, too). I think Thomas overreacted, but to argue that he’s not, at least right now, a “Big Three” guy on a championship-caliber team is not really taking the facts on the ground into account.

      1. Agreed, he’s not LeBron or Steph, but right now I’d put him up against Harden Love and other second tier players in terms of importance to the team. He’s having a great season, and he’s going to be HUGE for the Celtics as a recruiting tool this summer. Why go out of your way to insult a guy like that? Although I guess you could debate how insulting it was. All I know is Thomas wasn’t to thrilled about it.

      2. I love how these dullards only know one way to build a championship team. In the past 29 years, the “Big Three” teams have won three titles (2008 Cs, 2012,13 Heat). Could Thomas be an effective starter on a championship team? Yes. Is he a building block for the Celtics to move toward Banner 18? I think so.

        1. Depends on how you define “Big Three” – Duncan/Ginobili/Parker was on that level for ’03, ’05, and ’07. Jordan/Pippen/(Grant/Rodman) have 6. Most of the others have a “Sizable Two” including at least one of the top 5 players in the league (Isiah/Dumars, Shaq/Kobe, Kobe/Pau). 3 All-Stars are usually easier to come by than one megastar.

          Anyways, I thought IT4 would be the perfect Microwave off the bench, but he’s proven worthy of starter’s minutes, whether he’s on the court for tip or a Havlicekian 6th. The C’s are about one playmaker away from being a yearly ECF contender, and IT4 would be one of the best 3 players on it.

          1. Well, it doesn’t really matter how it’s defined because it’s mostly a media creation anyway. I mean, DJ was arguably more important than Parish, and Rondo was a much bigger reason they won the ’08 title than Allen. My point is that Dickerson, Tanguay and Felger are completely incapable of having a nuanced sports conversation and instead vomit out terms like “Big Three” and “window closing” and “cap is crap.”

  8. Anyone have the proud privilege of listening to our nation’s foremost expert on race relations, Gerry Callahan, critique Chris Rock and Black Hollywood this morning? The only reason I continued to listen to f**king P.O.S. ramble about it all is because Kirk was just as incredulous as I’m sure listeners were, and went toe to toe with Gerry over his B.S.

    1. The funniest part of that whole thing is I thought Rock was great. He blamed everyone…Black actors, Hollywood execs, fans and consumers. He sounded very Ayn Rand to me in his comedy…he suggested more than once that individuals need to step up and stop being victims. That was behind bringing Stacy Dash out (of course few people got the joke because they are way too self absorbed feeling rather than thinking). I was surprised when I heard Callahan’s take. He usually is smarter than that. This time he lived up to the self perpetuated stereotype.

      1. Gerry: He made a joke about cops shooting black kids on the way to the movies!
        Kirk: It was a joke. Do you really think he believes that?
        Gerry: Yes! Yes I do, Kirk.
        Kirk: Stop it. No you don’t.

        That was the train jumping the tracks about 3 minutes in.

    1. The Pats would have to assign an oxygen tank, a defib machine, and a personal EMT to everyone of the participants.

    1. He’s also doing a weekly podcast with Big Cat called “Pardon My Take.” The title and the artwork are shots fired at ESPN….lol…love it.

  9. So, I’m just getting around to Minihane’s podcast with SHANK. And yes, from now on I’m going to refer to him in all capitals as SHANK because he made the mistake of admitting that he does not like that moniker.

    SHANK says early on that he doesn’t like or enjoy the new breed of bloggers (specifically Thornton) because they write from the view point of a fan, and he’s not interested in their opinions. Then later on in the interview while trying to take the Patriots to task for their level of information sharing he says good beat writers tell me what they think.

    Um so as long as you work for what SHANK considers a reliable news source opinions are OK. Got it. And this guy wonders why people have a problem with him.

    1. That’s funny because Thornton’s closer in age to SHANK than he is to the people he’s actually complaining about.

      1. It’s also hilarious given the fact that every SHANK column about the Patriots since 1997 could easily be headlined: “I’m Dan Shaughnessy and I hate Bob Kraft.” Yeah, I’m really going to lend extra weight to what SHANK thinks just because he’s got a super-duper, official journalism degree certificate hanging on his office wall.

        1. Seriously you could feel the level of disdain he has for people who are making a name for themselves because they have talent and are interesting. Two things that said bye bye to SHANK a long time ago.

    2. It’s old-meets-new, though, that always causes the chasm between the two groups. They hate that these guys didn’t have to work their way up, and if they do stuff like Portnoy/Barstool, make it even bigger.

      I kinda understand that part but he also misses how his breed is so completely out of touch with many fans, they’ve were seeking an alternate voice.

    1. Dunno what they are doing on the other end of the dial but I’d be surprised of DHwT even touched it given that Thornton’s previous haunt went all in on the publicity stunt angle.

      1. Jerry wrote about it on his blog today saying ESPN screwed this up. And I don’t think you can link him to what the other kids at Barstool do, he was practically a grandfather over there. Or at least an old drunk uncle.

  10. Brady in Decline Show is back, 2-6. It’s Mazz in all his glorious form. Anti-contract extension and Berman did the wrong thing and the NFL will win the appeal. Felger and Murray on the opposite side but not too far. My favorite is Mazz saying he’s “read too much stuff out there” that makes him think it’s not a slam dunk Brady wins. WHERE? How far and deep did he have to go to find this when it’s been nearly anonymous among legal experts that the NFL has a huge hill to climb to win the appeal? Who’s he reading? ESPN? Gregg Doyle? Or he’s taking a small sentence within a McCann article or the woman from the Washington Post and running with it? Wildly curious where all this “stuff” Mazz claims to be reading is coming from.

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