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NFL to Reinstate Ball Handlers at Center of Deflategate

The NFL intends to reinstate John Jastremski and Jim McNally, the New England Patriots equipment handlers at the center of the Deflategate controversy, without any additional punishment.

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk first reported the development. Ian Rapoport reports the NFL seeks a meeting with the equipment managers as a precondition to reinstatement. The Patriots suspended Jastremski and McNally without pay, which serves as their punishment.

“As part of their punishment,” Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports, neither will be allowed to have a role in the preparation, handling or supervision of game balls, and McNally will be barred from serving as the officials’ locker room attendant, a role he has performed for many years.”

The team suspended the pair earlier this year allegedly at the behest of the NFL. The Patriots last week announced the franchise’s intention to seek the pair’s reinstatement. The return to Gillette Stadium for Jastremski and McNally comes in the wake of a federal judge vacating Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his alleged awareness of a “more probably than not” scheme by Jastremski and McNally to surreptitiously let the air out of game balls.

Jastremski disappeared along with a bag of footballs for 100 seconds into a Gillette Stadium bathroom before the AFC Championship Game, which fueled theories that he deflated the balls.

Despite the duo returning to the good graces of the league, they may face obstacles to winning back the affection of Tom Brady and Robert Kraft. The Wells Report quotes McNally saying “Tom sucks” and “F— Tom” in texts. Therein, Jastremski boasts to his mom and sister that he possesses the real ball Tom Brady used to surpass the 50,000-yard passing milestone as team owner Robert Kraft proudly displayed the pigskin he mistakenly believed the quarterback used to reach the mark.

The inclusion of such material extraneous to Deflategate led to accusations that Ted Wells used his investigation to attaint the Patriots employees because they did not provide him with the information he sought.

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