I have done a fair amount of research during my life, one paper being published in a scientific journal (http://arc.aiaa.org/doi/abs/10.2514/6.2003-379). In writing that report room for error was tight, that is, a reasonable person reading the report and have knowledge of the conditions discussed, would agree with my/our findings. Ted Wells is an attorney who is well versed in evidence. The phrase “a preponderance of evidence” is key in any courtroom as an offer of proof. But what does he say in his report? “More likely than not.” Can you imagine him saying that in a courtroom? He would be laughed out! His “evidence” would be dismissed, absolutely! At 51% you reach the “more likely” category but what meaning does that hold. I suspect he was thinking along the lines of 60% likelihood but even so, that cannot by any standard be taken as guilt.
The bottom line here is, if you cannot prove something “beyond a reasonable doubt,” something else Wells is very familiar with, you have nothing!
But I hold Goodell more to blame for all this than anyone else. I wrote immediately following this incident that Goodell’s move was to inform the Patriots of what he had been told and said to them, “we will be checking and you better no be doing anything!” Had he done that, and the balls found underinflated still, then he would really have had something. Now he has bupkis! Nada! Nothing!
Now everyone is discussing what punishment needs to be levied. They point to Gordon, Hardy, and Rice and say how they were severely fined. True, but in each case there was incontrovertible proof of their wrong doing. Here they only have the suggestion of proof and nothing more. To fine Brady anything at all would be wrong in every sense of the word. The NFL’s best course is to fine the organization, a large fine to quell the critics, and move on.
If they do punish Brady I cannot imagine anything more than a fine. The first game of the season is prime-time Pittsburgh versus New England with Ben Rothlisburger going up against……..Jimmy Garropolo? I don’t think so!
What this report shows more than anything how poorly the NFL conducts its business. Had the inflation level of the footballs been as important prior to that fateful game, there would have been a foolproof system of tracking the balls and insuring the integrity of the game, but there were not and are not. This is just another case of the NFL, and Goodell in particular, remaining reactive and not proactive as would be the intelligent way to do business.