FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- A Patriots lawyer says the "deflator" nickname used by a ballboy and cited in the NFL's decision to suspend quarterback Tom Brady was about weight loss, not footballs.
Team attorney Daniel Goldberg said Thursday the two Patriots employees -- Jim McNally, the officials' locker room assistant, and John Jastremski, an equipment assistant for the Patriots -- used the term jokingly in text messages to refer to McNally, who was trying to lose weight:
"Mr. Jastremski would sometimes work out and bulk up -- he is a slender guy and his goal was to get to 200 pounds. Mr. McNally is a big fellow and had the opposite goal: to lose weight. 'Deflate' was a term they used to refer to losing weight. One can specifically see this use of the term in a Nov. 30, 2014 text from Mr. McNally to Mr. Jastremski: 'deflate and give somebody that jacket.' ... This banter, and Mr. McNally's goal of losing weight, meant Mr. McNally was the 'deflator.' There was nothing complicated or sinister about it."
In a 20,000-word rebuttal to the league's findings, Goldberg disputes the conclusions of the investigator hired by the NFL on matters of science, logic and law.
Goldberg represented the team and was present during all of interviews of team personnel. Patriots spokesman Stacey James confirmed that the site wellsreportcontext.com was genuine and "approved/supported by the team."
Goldberg's response claims the league's conclusions are "at best, incomplete, incorrect and lack context."
It denied a link between Brady and the two equipment staffers, and it rejected Wells' claims that the team was not cooperative in the investigation. Wells said the team refused to make McNally available for a follow-up interview; Goldberg said the league should have asked all of its questions the first time.
Among the claims in the response were that Wells ignored an innocuous scientific explanation for the loss of air pressure in the footballs used in the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The rebuttal also includes claims of other incidents of ball-tampering that were not dealt with as harshly. And it says increased communication between Brady and the ballboys after the scandal broke were just normal expressions of concern, rather than evidence of the quarterback's guilt.
The rebuttal was published just before Brady appealed his four-game suspension.
The expected appeal was filed by the NFL Players Association on Thursday about an hour before the 5 p.m. deadline. The union asked for a neutral arbitrator to hear the case, though the league's collective bargaining agreement stipulates that it will be decided by Commissioner Roger Goodell or a person he designates.
"Given the NFL's history of inconsistency and arbitrary decisions in disciplinary matters, it is only fair that a neutral arbitrator hear this appeal," the union said in a news release.
The NFL announced the quarterback's suspension on Monday, also fining the New England Patriots $1 million and taking away two draft picks.
Brady's appeal only deals with the suspension and must be heard within 10 days. The team has not said if it will appeal its penalties before next Thursday.