As the NFL turns its sights toward the 2015 Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, we must unfortunately turn our attention back toward the league’s Deflate Gate investigation.
On Tuesday night, ESPN reported that Jim McNally — the Patriots’ 48-year-old officials’ locker room attendant — attempted to “introduce an unapproved special teams football into last month’s AFC Championship Game,” prompting the officiating crew to notify Mike Kensil, the NFL’s VP of Game Operations who spearheaded the league’s investigation into the Pats in the first place. (RELATED: Why Is A Patriots-Hating Former Jets Exec. Leading The NFL’s Deflate Gate Probe)
ESPN could not explain why McNally was in possession of a football “because officials’ locker room attendants don’t typically have ballhandling responsibilities during NFL games.” However, Adam Schefter called into Wednesday’s episode of “Outside the Lines” to shed light on the situation.
Here’s a full transcript of the segment:
Adam Schefter: A couple things to keep in mind here, number one there were a few different officials according to people I spoke with today who handled the footballs. League employees, League Employee 1, League Employee 2, League Employees 3 we’ll call them for lack of a better phrases whose jobs are to handle the balls on gameday.
And League Official 1, he’s also supposed to take the balls out of play and then send them off to a charitable endeavor to raise money for a charitable endeavor that the league is embarking upon. Only on this day, and since that day, the league has since fired that employee for allegedly selling off some of those football on the side. So that employee, League Official 1, has been fired since the AFC Championship game.
Employee 2 noticed that one of the balls — it gets very confusing and technical Bob — but noticed that one of the balls was missing. League Official 1 during the game went to get a different one. So when League Official 2 came in, he tried to replace that football. League Official 1 noticed that the ball was missing, noticed that people knew, he brought the ball back into the game, so then there were two different league officials handing footballs to Jim McNally for use in the game.
And so it sounds like a very unique, murky, cloudy situation. All of this information by the way is captured on video tape, has been turned over to the NFL and will be documented in the Wells report according to people I’ve spoken with. That essentially Jim McNally was given these footballs by the league officials assigned to work the game that particular day.”
Bob Ley: You’re telling us one official has been fired because he had a side business selling these charitable footballs?
Schefter: Correct. That extended beyond the AFC Championship game, that was part of a pattern of behavior that existed with this particular individual that culminated in him working that game and trying to get another football.
This is an astounding turn of events. Schefter gets a little wordy, so let’s simplify his findings.
NFL game balls are supposed to be auctioned off as part of a charitable endeavor, but a league official — who had been stealing balls intended for charity and selling them for personal profit — illegally removed a ball from the field. A second league official noticed the missing ball and went to go retrieve a replacement. At this juncture, the first official retrieved the ball he had removed from play and attempted to return it to the field before anyone else noticed. Both officials presented balls to McNally, who — since he had no idea how to handle such a unique situation — was behaving oddly enough to catch the attention of Mike Kensil.
This information does very little toward clarifying whether or not the Patriots actually tampered with balls used during the AFC Championship.
Not the point.
How can Roger Goodell expect to police the league if he can’t even keep his own people in line?
Before the Super Bowl, Patriots owner Rober Kraft stated that if the league’s investigation failed to uncover any foul play on New England’s part, he “would expect and hope that the league would apologize to our entire team, and in particular, Coach Belichick and Tom Brady, for what they have had to endure.” (RELATED: Robert Kraft: “The New England Patriots Have Done Nothing Wrong)
Even if the Patriots actually did deflate the balls used in the AFC Championship, Schefter’s allegations paint the NFL as an equally guilty and incompetent party. If Roger Goodell has even the slightest desire to keep his job, he’s got some serious ass-kissing to do up in Foxborough.