BOSTON (CBS) -- Even though Robert Kraft dropped his fight with the NFL back in May, the Patriots' Wells Report in Context site remained live. It also continued to be updated.
ESPN's Mike Reiss shared a link to a recent update to the site. It is an email thread between Robyn Glaser, the Patriots' general counsel, and Jeff Pash, the NFL's executive VP and general counsel.
It begins with the team's VP of media relations, Stacey James, sending an email to NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello just before midnight on Feb. 18. This was the day that ESPN's Kelly Naqi reported that Jim McNally "tried to introduce an unapproved special teams football into last month's AFC Championship Game."
The story cited four sources familiar with the investigation, and given that the information looked very bad for the Patriots, it's fair to surmise that the information was leaked from members of the NFL.
At that point, the Patriots were already frustrated because the league took no steps to correct Chris Mortensen's false report about 11 of 12 footballs being a full 2 PSI under the allowable limit.
"What is unconscionable to me is that the league holds data that could very well exonerate us from any wrongdoing and completely dismiss the rampant reports and allegations of nefarious actions, but the league refuses to provide the data," James wrote to Aiello.
The next morning, Glaser forwarded the email to Pash and reiterated the concerns.
"We want to reiterate, unambiguously and as resoundingly as possible, our request that the selective leaks of information and misinformation (which persist despite our repeated requested for you to address them aggressively), failure to correct obviously misreported information … be included in the scope of the independent investigation being conducted by [Ted] Wells and his team," Glaser wrote. "With this latest example of inappropriate and damaging actions by League employees, we don't see how you can once again refuse our request."
Glaser then demanded that the league set the record straight on the false report from Naqi by the end of the day.
"In the meantime," Glaser warned, "rest assured that as the League's actions/refusal to take action continue to permanently and irreparably tarnish our brand, we are considering all options for redress that may be available to us."
Pash then denied the NFL's involvement with any of the leaks, to which Glaser replied by stating the obvious: "these leaks would only come from the League office as it would not serve anyone else's purposes."
"We have cooperated fully and expediently with Attorney Wells and are now seriously starting to question whether we should do that while our public image and brand continues to be unnecessarily and irreparably tarnished by the League," Glaser wrote, adding that the McNally report showed a "callous disregard" for his and his family's privacy.
Pash then addressed the request for the league to correct Mortensen's false story -- the same report which thrust "DeflateGate" into the national spotlight, leading national newscasts and cable networks and dominating the country's news cycle.
"I have doubts that piecemeal disclosures are likely to accomplish much," Pash stated. "If anything, I would think they are likely to prompt additional questions, additional stories, and additional irresponsible speculation and commentary."
"Once the investigation is completed and the facts are known, any incorrect reporting will be shown for what it is," Pash said.
(The Wells report was not released until May 6 -- 77 days later, long after public opinion had been shaped based on the false information. It did not mention inaccurate reporting, nor did it mention anybody within the league office who may have leaked the information.)
To this, Glaser did not respond kindly. Glaser characterized Pash as "disingenuous" and called upon Pash to "step up."
"Jeff, you need to step up," Glaser wrote. "I can't tell you the number of times you've told me that you and your office work for us member clubs. It has been made resoundingly clear to us that your words are just a front. They have no substance at all. If you worked for us, you would have already released today a statement to the effect of, ESPN, you've got it wrong."
Glaser continued: "I would appreciate it if you would please tell me everything you are doing, and will continue to do, to stop leaks from occurring. This is information we do not have. We know of not one thing you are doing internally to investigate the sources of the leaks and/or curtail them. We do know that the one thing we've asked you to do -- include the League leaks as part of the scope of the Wells investigation -- has been rejected by you. So do you blame us for wondering just what the heck you mean when you say 'I will continue to do what I can to stop leaks from occurring'?"
These strong words were not received positively by Pash.
"I work for the Patriots, as well as for 31 other clubs and the Commissioner," Pash wrote. "Sometimes that creates tension, as it apparently has here."
Pash opted to end communications rather than respond point-by-point to the "personal and accusatory" note.
The note from Glaser to Pash may have indeed been personal and accusatory. But it was also right. This week, the NFLPA wrote in its court filing that "the purportedly independent Wells Report was edited by Pash, the NFL's General Counsel, before its public release." So clearly, things were far from on the level, and that goes all the way back to mid-February.
And so, another layer is peeled off the mystery of what in the world took place during an NFL-led investigation that has clearly been a cluster to anybody who's actually been paying close attention.
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