SAN FRANCISCO TO BOSTON -- Departing the NFL's spring meetings and heading for home, here's one final leftover thought: With the opportunity to accept some level of accountability for the drawn-out, not-good-for-the-league mess that Deflategate became, commissioner Roger Goodell punted.
This is part of what had Patriots officials seething for months.
Asked point-blank by Tom Curran of Comcast SportsNet about the Wells report failing to look inward at some of the league's missteps in the process, Goodell countered.
"I think Ted Wells did address that in his report. I asked him specifically when I engaged him to evaluate the league’s conduct to determine what we could have done differently," he said. "He was very clear in the report, so I would disagree on that point."
Wells might have been very clear, but he was hardly thorough.
Of the 243 pages of the Wells report, there was one paragraph -- one! -- that touched on this topic.
From Page 21, in the executive summary, Wells wrote: "At various points in the investigation, counsel for the Patriots questioned the integrity and objectivity of game officials, various NFL executives and certain NFL Security representatives present at the AFC Championship Game or otherwise involved in the investigative process. We found no evidence to substantiate the questions raised by counsel. Specifically, we identified no evidence of any bias or unfairness. We believe that the game officials, NFL executives, NFL Security representatives and other members of the NFL staff who participated in the testing of the footballs and the subsequent investigative process acted fairly, properly and responsibly."
How did Wells come to this conclusion? What about the damning media leaks that enraged owner Robert Kraft at the Super Bowl?
There were no details to support Wells' conclusion.
When Curran followed up with Goodell specifically about the media leak that 11 of the team's 12 footballs had measured at least 2 PSI below the allowed level -- and how the NFL never corrected that information despite knowing it was wrong and painted the Patriots as guilty in the public eye -- Goodell said: "As I say, we’ve given all that to Ted. Ted’s had the opportunity to evaluate that."
Wells' evaluation of that critical issue, which touches on the Patriots' claims of bias, never made it into the report.
In the end, all we got was one paragraph and a public punt from Goodell.