If you have the time or the inclination to read 457 pages of men talking about inflated balls and broken cellphones, the transcript of Tom Brady's 10-hour Deflategate appeal hearing is available almost anywhere now. While there was no "You can't handle the truth!" moment, the transcript does shed some light on what both sides argued, how contentious the relationship between the NFL and Brady's camp was, and where the two sides differ.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was not moved by Brady's appeal and upheld the QB's four-game suspension for his role in Deflategate and his alleged attempts to thwart the NFL's investigation. While video of the hearing would be far more entertaining than the emotionless text (although similar were the video of Bill Belichick), it's clear that Brady argued he had no involvement in the deflating of footballs used in the AFC Championship Game.
The NFLPA argued the merits of the flimsy Wells Report, which Brady's people say used inexact science and lawyer-speak to implicate the quarterback. Also of note: Ted Wells was paid by the NFL (a lot, actually) to conduct the investigation, which Brady's team said makes it a partisan report and not a wholly independent investigation.
Much of the transcript is clunky, with references to exhibits and slides the reader can't see. However, there are a few passages worth noting that help to explain some elements of this saga that have been leaked out through media reports since
Deflategate broke in January. Here are the most interesting takeaways:
Tom Brady Steps on his Cell Phone. A lot.
"Well, if it — a new version may come out of a particular phone, if I break the phone, I've stepped on the screen a few times, it just fell out of my bag at my locker, I'm not seeing it, I stepped on it, I think three or four times, sometimes the touch panel breaks," Brady said. The QB gets his phones free of charge, though, which makes it understandable that he doesn't invest in a case for them in case he, you know, accidentally steps on it.
The break-in process for NFL footballs, in Brady's words, is "extensive."
"Well, I don't know all the specifics," Brady said. "I know there's sandpaper. I know there's dirt. I know there's a leather conditioner that we use that I got from my old college coach that we use on the ball quite a bit. And we take leather receiving gloves that the receivers use and we try to get the tack from the leather on the receiver gloves and really rub that into the — each of these balls have nubs on them. Sometimes if the ball is too nubby, I like to sand down the nubs. I don't like it when there's no nub because then there's no traction on the ball. So you want your hand to be able to grip the ball, but you don't want it so flat that you can't. So they try to, basically, moisten the ball with the leather conditioner. That has been a very helpful way to break in a new ball quickly, not that there is any way to break in quickly."
NFL executive Troy Vincent was the first league official to be alerted.
"It was first brought to my knowledge approximately six or seven minutes remaining in the second half of the AFC Championship Game," Vincent testified. "There was a knock on the door by the general manager from the Indianapolis Colts, Ryan Grigson. He proceeded in the room and he brought to myself, and Mike Kensil was actually sitting to my left, and said, 'We are playing with a small ball.' That was my first knowledge of the situation."
The Wells Report cost a ton of money to conduct.
"For the report, through May 6th, it's somewhere in the area — and I'm not sure the bill was out, but it's going to be around somewhere in the range of 2.5 to 3 million," Wells said. It was unclear during the hearing if the NFL was paying Wells to testify. "I don't know," he said. "I haven't broached that."
Wells argued he had no allegiance to the league, despite his pay…
"When I'm hired in the capacity of an independent investigator, my very job in terms of the representation I'm supposed to do zealously is to be independent and look at the facts and give a candid, objective opinion," he said. "That's what I'm supposed to do."
And he would not stand for the NFL directing his work.
"I would not," Wells said. "And if anybody tried to interfere with it, I would quit."
The biggest hole in the Wells report linking Brady to Deflategate is the terminology that it was "more probable than not" that the QB knew about the conspiracy. Wells translated his lawyer-speak to English for everyone.
"I have caught criticism because I used the words 'more probable than not.' And people act like, is that wishy-washy? "It's not wishy-washy," Wells said. "When I wrote my conclusions in terms of 'more probable than not,' I did it very purposefully, because I did not want any readers to think that I had perhaps made a finding of liability beyond a reasonable doubt or by clear and convincing evidence. I wanted people to know this was the standard under the NFL rules and that's the standard I was making my ruling on. So I was doing it so people wouldn't get confused and think I had used some higher, higher standard."
Brady basically lost Wells at hello.
From the jump, Wells rejected the idea that Brady was oblivious to the ball deflation "based on my assessment of his credibility and his refusal or decision not to give me what I requested in terms of responsive documents," Wells said. "And that decision, so we can all be clear and I will say it to Mr. Brady, in my almost 40 years of practice, I think that was one of the most ill-advised decisions I have ever seen because it hurt how I viewed his credibility."
In case you haven't gotten your fill of Deflategate, the NFLPA filed a federal lawsuit against the league this week, which is why the appeal transcript was released in the first place. So if you're tired of ranking your fantasy football players this month, there are plenty of transcripts and emails to plow through until the season starts Sept. 10, presumably with Brady sitting at home for the first four games.