Watch CBS News

Why Didn't Roger Goodell Correct False Leaks? Commissioner Says He Deferred To Ted Wells

BOSTON (CBS) -- Roger Goodell met with the media on Tuesday afternoon, and while most of the questions he faced revolved around the potential of a team or teams moving to Los Angeles, he did face a handful of DeflateGate questions.

One burning question was finally asked to the commissioner point-blank by The Boston Globe's Ben Volin: Why did the NFL do nothing to correct the false information that had been leaked by NFL officials to ESPN's Chris Mortensen?

Goodell's answer was somewhat difficult to decipher.

"As you know, first and foremost, we went to an independent investigation that week following the AFC Championship Game," Goodell said. "All of that focus was put to Ted Wells at that point in time, and supporting him and cooperating with him fully and making sure he had any information we had."

Goodell added that Wells had "complete discretion" with how the investigation was run.

"So we went along with that, and that was ultimately the decision we made," Goodell said.

If Goodell is saying what it seems like he's saying -- that he left it up to Ted Wells whether or not the NFL should correct false information that damaged the image of one of its teams -- then it's not only ludicrous, but it's also dishonest.

Chris Mortensen fired off his now-infamous tweet saying that 11 of the Patriots' 12 footballs were measured at a full 2 PSI under the allowable limit at 10:57 p.m. on Jan. 20. His story, which is still live on, is stamped with a Jan. 21 publishing date.

The NFL announced on Jan. 23 that Ted Wells had been hired to run the investigation.

That leaves a period of a full day-and-a-half for the NFL to declare publicly that the damning information reported by Mortensen was wrong.

If you think it might not be the league's prerogative to correct false information, consider that just nine days ago, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello hurriedly stifled Internet speculation that Mike Kensil had been removed from the NFL's operations page. Another league spokesman, Brian McCarthy, also quickly corrected this false info.

Yet in the case of the false information in January, the NFL let it linger for 36 hours before apparently taking the advice of Ted Wells to not correct the public record. The true PSI numbers were not made public until Wells' report was released ... on May 6 ... more than three months later.

Putting aside the deceitfulness of Goodell's excuse, there is the separate issue of depending on an "independent" investigator to make decisions for the league as a whole. And there's a separate issue of continuing to claim that investigator was "independent" when you argued in legal filings just five days ago that it's "irrelevant" whether he was indeed independent. Clearly, the issues for Goodell and the league are many.

So why didn't Goodell or any of his employees make any effort to correct the false report in January? According to Goodell, it's because the league was deferring its decision-making to Ted Wells. But according to a basic timeline of events, there is no good reason.

Read more from Michael Hurley by clicking here. You can email him or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.