The New England Patriots' website launched in May to offer rebuttal to Ted Wells' report has adjusted a portion of text that claimed locker room attendant Jim McNally referred to himself as the "deflator" because he was trying to lose weight.
In a June 18 annotation to Wellsreportcontext.com, the Patriots' attorney, Daniel J. Goldberg, linked to a separate page containing text that was removed from the original document and wrote that the weight-loss explanation had overshadowed other points made in the nearly 20,000-word document.
"The focus of public discussion about the one and only text that used the term "deflator" -- and what the term as used in that single text refers to -- has detracted attention from the numerous flaws in the Wells Report described in these annotations," the website's annotation reads. "The original paragraph discussing that text can be found here. The following paragraph has been added to clarify the basic point being made ... that one cannot reasonably rely on that one uncorroborated and unexamined text to conclude that there was improper ball deflation."
The Patriots said they intended it to be a "live" website that can be updated, with the understanding that links would be provided for any content that was removed along with an annotation as to why they adjusted it.
The original website text explained that "Mr. McNally is a big fellow and had the opposite goal [as equipment assistant John Jastremski]: to lose weight. 'Deflate' was a term they used to refer to losing weight. ... There was nothing complicated or sinister about it."
Also removed from the original explanation were several text messages between Jastremski and McNally, including one where McNally writes, "... come on help the deflator."
The Patriots' June 18 annotation notes that McNally used the term in "one and only one text," on May 9, 2014, and there was no mention of footballs in "any surrounding texts."
"That single word from a text in May is also the primary basis in the report to conclude that improper deflation occurred at the AFC Championship Game eight months later. And then it forms the basis for the findings regarding [Tom] Brady."
NFL investigators, according to the June 18 annotation, never asked McNally or Jastremski about the text message that included the word "deflator."
"They simply assumed, with no basis or investigation whatsoever, what "deflator" must mean, and then relied on their assumption to filter all the other evidence they received," the annotation reads. "What they did know, but chose to ignore, is that 'deflate' is often used in contexts having nothing to do with taking air out of footballs -- and that even these two men used the term in their texts in various ways having nothing to do with footballs."
The annotation also argues that a "simple Internet search reveals a frequent use of the word 'deflate' in the context of weight loss."