We waited four months for that? Just when we were ready to let DeflateGate evaporate into the ether, the Wells Report dropped into our laps and signaled a sharpening of verbal swords that would make Arya Stark proud. While media pundits and bloodthirsty fans are inclined to react first and ask questions later, it seems like a good time to take a half-step back and consider the possibility that none of us have any clue what the Wells Report is supposed to tell us. Is this the definitive document that reveals once and for all that Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are the devil incarnate, or is it a subjective and speculative collection of facts that remain open for interpretation?

 

A bin of deflated footballs waiting to be laced and inflated for use.

The New England Patriots’ win of Superbowl 2015 is called into question because the footballs reportedly were under inflated. (abcnews.com)

Everyone has an opinion about how the NFL should dispense justice against the presumed-guilty Patriots, but we still don’t really know what happened. We also don’t know how much happened to the Patriots’ footballs during the AFC Championship Game versus the Indianapolis Colts.

 

Just as NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell failed to seize control of the dialog in the aftermath of the Championship Game, they once again have remained silent since the release of the Wells Report. This leaves the fate of Brady and the Patriots in the balance. Fans have a right to know if the NFL fully endorses the conclusions of the Wells Report or if they intend to investigate this matter further. Is Ted Wells the judge and jury who is delivering a verdict, or is he just someone who dug pretty deep into the matter but still emerged with less-than-definitive findings?

 

With so many legacies at stake and so much anger and passion surrounding the conversation, the NFL has a responsibility to be a leader, rather than a follower. Additionally, while it is convenient to pile on Goodell, it is clear that he has lost all credibility in player discipline issues. The lengths of suspensions he has meted out seem arbitrary and inconsistent, and the DeflateGate punishment will have no logic trail or road map attached to it.

 

This does not excuse any transgressions committed by the Patriots, nor does it discount what appears to be damaging circumstantial evidence against them. It does, however, seem futile to sustain the DeflateGate debate without any framework for the discussion. The race to tear down our heroes is a common thematic in our sports chatter, and the invisibility of the NFL’s leader seems to be encouraging that.

 

Perhaps, many of these issues will be settled if Brady himself addresses the Wells Report. Maybe then could something be learned from one of the strangest, polarizing chapters in recent NFL history.

 

What do you think of the NFL’s response to the Ted Wells Report? Let’s talk here, or find me on Twitter @endbadly.