On Wednesday, a piece was produced that highlighted key areas in anticipation of the release of the Wells report.
Let's revisit that piece, which noted the areas that should be addressed, updating it with information from the actual report:
Answering two main questions. At the Super Bowl, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the investigation would focus on two areas: 1) Why were some footballs used in the AFC Championship Game in January that were not in compliance with the rules? 2) Was that a result of deliberate action? These two questions should be answered on Page 1 of the Wells report, with the finer-point details to follow.
What the report said. A definitive conclusion was not reached by the report as to why some footballs in the AFC Championship Game were not in compliance. The report stated it was “more likely than not” that it was deliberate action by officials locker room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski, and it was "more probable than not" that quarterback Tom Brady was "at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities."
Specifics on PSI levels. When the story initially broke, it was reported that the NFL found 11 of the Patriots' 12 game balls were inflated significantly below the NFL's requirements. What were those exact levels? Along those lines, is it instead true that “just one was two [PSI] under [and] many of them were just a few ticks under the minimum?" This information should be on Page 1 of the Wells report because it hits at the heart of context.
What the report said. Officials tested 11 Patriots' footballs at halftime and four Colts' footballs (a limited number because officials believed they were running out of time). Two different officials tested the Patriots' footballs and the PSI levels, which are required to be between 12.5 to 13.5, were as follows:
11.5 and 11.8
10.85 and 11.2
11.15 and 11.50
10.7 and 11.0
11.1 and 11.45
11.6 and 11.95
11.85 and 12.3
11.1 and 11.55
10.95 and 11.35
10.5 and 10.9
10.9 and 11.35
Specifics on how balls were tested before the game. NFL vice president of officiating Dean Blandino said at the Super Bowl that referee Walt Anderson “gauged” all footballs before the game. Specifics on this process are crucial. Did Anderson use a pump? Was it a hand test? We already know the exact PSI of each football was not documented upon inspection, and without knowing the exact starting point, it makes it difficult to compare the Patriots' footballs to the Colts' footballs from that day.
What the report said. Anderson used a pressure gauge. He determined all but two of the Patriots' footballs were within compliance when delivered before the game, and adjusted the two footballs to 12.5 PSI. Most of the Colts' footballs tested by Anderson were either 13.0 or 13.1 PSI, according to his recollection.
Footballs after pregame check. After Anderson approved the footballs, where did those footballs go? Who was monitoring them? The Foxsports.com report that a game-day employee brought the footballs into the bathroom for about 90 seconds raised suspicions, with the report calling him a "strong person of interest." What happened in those 90 seconds and who is this "strong person of interest?"
What the report said. McNally took the balls from the officials' locker room without consent. Anderson, the referee, said it was the first time someone had done so in his 19 years. The report doesn't specify what happened in the bathroom, but determined that it was possible for McNally to deflate all the footballs in that time.
Specifics on how balls were tested at halftime and historical context. Patriots footballs were tested at halftime of the AFC Championship Game and that is when the league determined underinflated footballs were used. Who conducted that test and how was it conducted? Is any air pressure released from a football when tested? Has the league ever tested footballs at halftime of a game before? At the Super Bowl, Goodell said he was unaware of whether the league had ever tested air pressure of football at halftime of a game, and any historical context along those lines is notable.
What the report said. The halftime test was conducted by alternate game officials Clete Blakeman and Dyrol Prioleau. Each official used a separate air pressure gauge provided by Anderson, which was the same air pressure gauge Anderson used before the game. It wasn't noted in the report that any air pressure is released from the football when tested, nor was it noted about any tests at halftime of prior NFL games.
Role of science. In an unforgettable January news conference, Bill Belichick cited science as a reason a properly inflated football could lose air pressure due to variables such as weather and temperature. What do experts tapped by Wells say about that?
What the report said. The Wells report hired consultants including Exponent, a scientific and engineering company that has come under fire by some. The report determined that science could explain some reduction in PSI, but not all of it, in part because the average air-pressure drop in the Patriots' 11 footballs was greater than the average drop in the Colts' four footballs.
More on Mike Kensil. NFL vice president of game operations Mike Kensil was at the AFC Championship Game and directly involved with the investigation. Kensil and members of the Patriots' organization have had some testy exchanges behind the scenes over the years, with some around the team previously questioning if Kensil had an anti-Patriots agenda. With more than 100 days to investigate, any potential bias from Kensil should be covered by the Wells report.
What the report said. Noting that at various points in the investigation that counsel for the Patriots questioned the integrity and objectivity of game officials, various NFL executives and certain NFL security representatives, the Wells report “identified no evidence of any bias or unfairness.”
Role of game-day employee dismissed by NFL. ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported that a game-day employee hired by the NFL to collect footballs for charity handed an ineligible ball to an official to put into play during the AFC Championship Game. That game-day employee has since been fired. How is this related, if at all, to the issue of underinflated footballs being used in the first half?
What the report said. It was unrelated, per the report, as the investigation concluded there was no deliberate attempt to introduce a non-approved kicking ball.
Colts' role. The Washington Post previously detailed how Bob Kravitz, the Indianapolis-based reporter who broke the story, got the initial tip via this text message: “Call me now..Very important!!!!” If it is determined that Kravitz was tipped off by the Colts, which led to a media firestorm that reflected poorly on the league and the Patriots, will there be any NFL discipline as it relates to the league's integrity of the game policy? Colts general manager Ryan Grigson previously mentioned he had privately expressed concern to the NFL about underinflated footballs before the AFC Championship Game.
What the report said. This aspect of the Colts' involvement wasn't addressed.
NFL's handling of investigation. Patriots owner Robert Kraft expressed outrage at the Super Bowl because of media leaks he believed came from the NFL office, saying he expected an apology if the league couldn't “definitively determine that [the Patriots] tampered with the air pressure on the footballs.” At the March owners meetings, Goodell said: “If there was anything that we as a league did incorrectly, we'll know about it in that report.” We'll be curious what type of spotlight the Wells report puts on the NFL in this regard.
What the report said. Not addressed.