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Felger & Mazz: Why Wells' Wording 'More Probable Than Not' Is So Important

BOSTON (CBS) -- More Probable Than Not.

It's that phrase that has Patriots fans feeling that Ted Wells' extensive investigation of the Deflategate controversy ultimately came back inconclusive. After four months of investigating, all Wells could say was he thinks that it's likely members of the Patriots staff deflated footballs ahead of the AFC Championship game, and quarterback Tom Brady may have known about it.

More probable than not doesn't come off as very definitive, but as it turns out, it's really all the NFL needs to hit the Patriots with a harsh punishment.

"We all latched on to that phrasing of Wells saying it's inconclusive, when that is far from the case," Michael Felger explained to start Thursday's Felger & Mazz on 98.5 The Sports Hub. "I first heard this from Judy Battista of NFL Network, a long-time NFL writer for the New York Times and a friend of the Patriots. She said what happened to be the case, that using that language – More Probable Than Not -- was not an accident. It's the exact language used in the NFL rulebook as the threshold under which they determine whether you violated a rule."

Back in 2008, Goodell wrote to the NFL's Competition Committee, "Too often, competitive violations have gone unpunished because conclusive proof of the violation was lacking. I believe we should reconsider the standard of proof to be applied in such cases, and make it easier for a competitive violation to be established."

He got his wish, and now with the Wells Report, has what he needs to punish the Patriots.

"What Ted Wells is saying is not that it's inconclusive; he's saying they're guilty. He's using the exact language that the NFL rulebook calls for for Roger Goodell or Troy Vincent to use [to punish them]," said Felger. "He says they're guilty, and that has me re-thinking how bad the punishment is going to be.

"I still don't know what it's going to be, but the fact that Wells tailored the entire language to what the NFL rulebook and Goodell asks for, it's a good tip off of what Wells thinks should happen. He's telling Goodell, in the language of the NFL rulebook, that they did it, and they deserve to be punished."

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