Roger Goodell Responds To Deflategate & His Statement Is Flatter Than Those Footballs

It's been an exceptionally challenging year for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. After high-profile domestic violence cases called into question the league head's disciplinary protocols, the New England Patriots were investigated for allegedly deflating their footballs during the AFC Championship game to gain an advantage. (The New England Patriots have always denied this.) On Wednesday, an independent investigation concluded that the Patriots were most likely guilty, prompting Goodell to issue a statement on Deflategate, and it's as tepid and vague as his actions following the domestic violence controversy.

The damning 243-page report, compiled by independent attorney Ted Wells, found that, based on text messages between locker-room attendant Jim McNally and equipment assistant John Jastremski, it was "more probable than not" that they deliberately violated the rules to release air from the footballs. The report also determined that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was "at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities" between McNally and Jastremski.

In response to the findings, Goodell released the following statement. FYI, Troy Vincent is currently the NFL's executive vice president of football operations.

I want to express my appreciation to Ted Wells and his colleagues for performing a thorough and independent investigation, the findings and conclusions of which are set forth in today’s comprehensive report. As with other recent matters involving violations of competitive rules, Troy Vincent and his team will consider what steps to take in light of the report, both with respect to possible disciplinary action and to any changes in protocols that are necessary to avoid future incidents of this type. At the same time, we will continue our efforts vigorously to protect the integrity of the game and promote fair play at all times.

The somewhat emotionless statement reflects the robotic tone Goodell has adopted in responding to previous controversy. Following the release of disturbing footage showing Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice assaulting his now-wife and dragging her out of an elevator, Goodell fumbled through press conferences and was accused of seeming only half-present.

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Exacerbating his apathetic response was the measly two-game suspension Goodell imposed on Rice, which many believed was too light of punishment for his offense. Goodell then expanded it into an indefinite suspension, but a former federal judge overturned that decision, ruling that Rice could not be punished twice for the same offense.

In contrast, however, Wednesday's Deflategate report has prompted a flurry of much more impassioned reactions. Patriots owner Robert Kraft responded with a dissenting statement questioning the science behind the report's findings, saying:

To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship game, would be a gross understatement. ...While I respect the independent process of the investigation, the time, effort and resources expended to reach this conclusion are incomprehensible to me.
JEFF HAYNES/AFP/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Brady's agent, Don Yee, spouted his own criticism of Wells' report, even theorizing that the Indianapolis Colts might have been involved in what was a sting operation.

Yee said in a statement:

What does it say about the league office's protocols and ethics when it allows one team to tip it off to an issue prior to a championship game, and no league officials or game officials notified the Patriots of the same issue prior to the game? This suggests it may be more probable than not that the league cooperated with the Colts in perpetrating a sting operation.

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