By Ben Sullivan
You rarely see or hear the author of a report on a controversial subject immediately defend his findings in such a public way.
Think Ken Starr!
But yesterday attorney Ted Wells went out of his way to rebuke those who found his 243-page report and investigation of Deflategate not quite up to standards considering the four-game suspension the NFL gave Tom Brady of the New England Patriots.
Wells vehemently defended his report Tuesday afternoon via a conference call with select media conducted by the NFL’s public relations department and railed against the idea he was influenced by the league or that the Patriots were targeted by a “sting operation.”
Wells began the call by attacking his detractors, which have included Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Don Yee, the agent for quarterback Tom Brady, and then took questions, many of them directed at concerns Yee has raised in the conclusions reached by the investigation.
Wells made it clear that snippets of the text messages between Patriots employees James McNally (“The Deflator” who worked on the sidelines) and locker room attendant John Jastremski — both suspended indefinitely by the franchise as part of the NFL’s stern discipline in the matter — were a driving force in his determination that it was more probable than not that Brady at least knew of a plot to illegally deflate balls.
More than anything else, Wells felt compelled to speak out publicly based on the allegations made by Yee and others about the credibility of his findings and his long ties to the NFL.
“This the first time that after I’ve issued my report that I find somebody is questioning my independence and in some way suggesting I was influenced by the league office,” Wells said, “and I think that is wrong … But for those personal attacks, I’ll be candid with you, I would not have responded.”
Wells said that his past work in NFL investigations and his law firm’s role in the league’s concussion litigation was well known before he began this job, and neither the Patriots nor Yee raised objections to those relationships or dealings prior to him beginning this task. “No one at the Patriots or in Mr. Brady’s camp raised any issues about my independence or integrity to judge the evidence impartially and fairly,” at that time, Wells said.
When asked about his compensation, Wells said that the NFL was billed by the hour and that “no question it’s in the millions of dollars.”