The contentious relationship between the New England Patriots and National Football League has taken a turn. The defending Super Bowl champions have posted emails highlighting what they claim is misinformation over certain media reports stemming from Deflategate.
Patriots general counsel Robyn Glaser and NFL general counsel Jeff Pash had a long email exchange covering the days of February 18 and 19, which has been posted on WellsReportContext.com.
Key points in the email discussion include an exchange stating that reporting done by the media would “irreparably damage our brand and reputation.”
Specifically, Glaser highlighted a February report by Outside the Lines‘ Kelly Naqi claiming locker-room attendant Jim McNally “tried to introduce an unapproved special teams football” into the AFC Championship Game against Indianapolis.
Glaser also singled out a report by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, which claimed the NFL found 11 of the 12 footballs used by New England against the Colts were significantly underinflated.
“The investigation found the footballs were inflated 2 pounds per square inch below what’s required by NFL regulations during the Pats’ 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, according to sources,” Mortensen wrote.
One email written by Patriots vice president of media relations Stacey James to NFL spokesman Greg Aiello states the NFL “holds data that could very well exonerate us from any wrongdoing and completely dismiss the rampant reports and allegations of nefarious actions, but the league refuses to provide the data.”
James also cited “the scientific evidence that has been provided to us [the Patriots] by multiple independent scientists” as a way to prove the footballs were within range of the league-mandated psi, which are to be between 12.5 and 13.5.
Glaser added in her email to Pash, in which she forwarded James’ email to Aiello, that the ESPN piece is “the latest in league leaks” because the only other people familiar with the information were in the Patriots organization and they “were not talking to ESPN or anyone else.”
Pash responded by saying he had no reason to assume the leak came from the NFL and doesn’t condone leaks, later adding he would do what he could to prevent media leaks.
Glaser said the Patriots fully cooperated with Ted Wells’ independent investigation but “are now seriously starting to question” if they should as their image continues to be “tarnished by the league.”
The situation has led to the Patriots being fined $1 million and losing two draft picks, including a 2016 first-rounder. Quarterback Tom Brady has been suspended for the first four games of 2015, but he’s taking an appeal to federal court.
This situation has been drawn out for more than six months with no clear end in sight. The Patriots are standing their ground, even as owner Robert Kraft said he would accept the team’s punishment, while the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell are not backing down.
With the Patriots taking steps to show what they believe is a failure of the league to dispel misinformation, the ball is in the league’s court to offer a response. Considering the 2015 season starts in just over one month, with New England hosting Pittsburgh on September 10, some kind of resolution to this whole thing soon would be ideal for everyone involved.