Ted Wells testified in front of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell that the league and its referees displayed ignorance at the AFC Championship Game that balls lose air pressure because of weather conditions.
“What I found in interviewing referees and just witnesses in general is that there was no appreciation for the Ideal Gas Law and the possible impact that that might have,” Wells responded to a question by Tom Brady lawyer Jeffrey Kessler. “And so people didn’t appreciate that if you measured a ball in a hot locker room and then took it out to a cold field, you have automatic drop. Now, the Patriots had figured that out, okay.”
The remarks came during Tom Brady’s appeal of his four-game suspension in June at NFL headquarters. The NFL Players Association released the full transcript Tuesday night.
NFL executives, despite the subsequent admission that the league has never retested balls at halftime or postgame, assumed during the AFC Championship Game that a drop in air pressure necessarily meant tampering. Mike Kensil, a former Jets official who serves as the NFL’s director of operations, angrily informed the New England Patriots at the game, “We weighed the balls. You are in big f—— trouble.”
Even the terminology used by Kensil—”weighed”—suggests the blind-mice quality of the investigation. Whereas the NFL measured every Patriots ball, they measured just one in three Colts balls, which also experienced drops in air pressure. The drops for the Colts suggested to the NFL neither malfeasance on their part nor innocence on the part of the Patriots.
Troy Vincent, the NFL’s executive vice president for operations, admitted at the same hearing that the Ideal Gas Law remained a foreign concept to him when he busted the New England Patriots for ball tampering. Both Vincent and Wells conceded that testing balls during halftime or after the game remained a practice that, to their knowledge, the NFL refrained from until the AFC Championship Game.