So: Did An NFL Official Leak False Information About Deflategate To Smear The Patriots?
When the Deflategate scandal first broke
100 years ago back in January, one of the biggest and most shocking pieces of information -- really, the reason why anyone thought this was a big deal in the first place -- came courtesy of ESPN's Chris Mortensen:
NFL has found that 11 of the Patriots footballs used in Sunday’s AFC title game were under-inflated by 2 lbs each, per league sources.
— Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 21, 2015
It's one thing if all the balls are slightly under-inflated. It's one thing if one ball is way under-inflated. But for almost every Patriots football to be under-inflated by two pounds is cause for serious concern. Public opinion was against the Patriots from the start, thanks in part to this information.
We know now that this report was false. That's been the case for months. The Patriots found out the truth in March and the rest of us found out the truth in May with the Wells Report. So why did the NFL not correct the erroneous information that had been leaked? Was it perhaps in their best interest to keep that report in the public consciousness?
This disparity was highlighted further by the fact that the NFL's original letter to Robert Kraft and the Patriots about the investigation, back in January, noted that only one ball was two pounds under the legal limit. The rest, hypothetically, were under-inflated just enough to be explained by science.
So why would a respected and influential journalist like Mortensen tweet out such stunningly incorrect information? He was given the information by a source he trusted -- and it appears to be an open secret as to who that source is:
@JohnDennisWEEI Rhymes with Like Pencil?
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 31, 2015
PFT is referring to Mike Kensil, the NFL vice president of game operations and former Jets executive who may have an ax to grind with Bill Belichick and is supposedly the "driving force" behind this entire investigation. Kensil was with the Jets back when Belichick ditched New York for New England. He also reportedly visited the Patriots sideline and told the team they were "in big fucking trouble" after officials weighed the AFC title balls during halftime.
Actually, this is more than an open secret, if WEEI is to be believed:
AUDIO: Mike Kensil was the leak to Chris Mortensen 7-31-15 http://t.co/dQZyG8KHJm
— WEEI (@WEEI) July 31, 2015
The agenda has long been set, and since that time many other factors have obscured the truth of the matter -- not the least of which being Tom Brady's choice to destroy his cell phone rather than turn it over to NFL investigators. But it all started with a false report leaked by an NFL official with a possible vendetta against the Pats, and even if Tom Brady is not exonerated in court and the Patriots have to live with the consequences, this is a deeply unsettling turn for the story to have taken.
By the way, Mortensen cancelled an appearance on WEEI this morning after the station said he would discuss his Deflategate reporting. To be fair, I wouldn't want to talk about how I got played either.
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