FOXBOROUGH, Mass. --Tom Brady's agent says the NFL was determined to blame the Patriots quarterback for deflated footballs in the AFC title game, and that the investigation omitted key facts and buried others.
Don Yee released a statement Thursday saying the report prepared by NFL-appointed investigator Ted Wells was "a significant and terrible disappointment."
Yee said the report "reached a conclusion first, and then determined so-called facts later," and said Wells' firm makes a lot of money from the NFL and put out a report that benefits the league.
"The league is a significant client of the investigators' law firm; it appears to be a rich source of billings and media exposure based on content in the law firm's website," Yee said. "This was not an independent investigation and the contents of the report bear that out."
Yee emphasized that the league should not have allowed a sting operation in a playoff game, and that Wells left out most of Brady's testimony.
The league investigation into the deflated footballs used in this year's AFC championship game -- aka"Deflategate" -- might do what none of the other controversies and near-misses could: tarnish the legacy of Brady, a four-time Super Bowl champion and the title game's reigning MVP.
"What I see is that he goes from being 'Tom Perfect' to 'Tom Not-So-Perfect' in some people's eyes," Marc Ganis, president of sports business consulting firm SportsCorp, said Wednesday after the release of the NFL's report on the scandal that came to be known as "Deflategate."
In a 243-page report, Wells found that Patriots employees violated the league rules covering game balls, and that Brady was "at least generally aware" of the plans to doctor the footballs to his liking. The report found some of Brady's claims were "implausible," adding: "It is unlikely that an equipment assistant and a locker room attendant would deflate game balls without Brady's knowledge and approval."
The Patriots did not respond to a request for a comment from Brady or coach Bill Belichick, who was exonerated in the report. The team canceled a previously scheduled availability for Thursday.
"This report contains significant and tragic flaws, and it is common knowledge in the legal industry that reports like this generally are written for the benefit of the purchaser," Yee said in his statement Thursday.
New York Times Sports Columnist Bill Rhoden told "CBS This Morning" on Thursday that the report "blows everyone away."
"The worst thing about it is that a guy that's on top of the world, who seems to have everything -a great family, a legacy, the Super Bowl, still feels so much pressure and the need to cheat," Rhoden said. "Why does somebody who seems to have everything need to cheat? And that speaks to a large societal problem. Why do people on Wall Street - people who have all the money, need to have more money?"
The findings were forwarded to the league's disciplinary chief for potential punishment. Brady could be fined or face a suspension that would keep him out of Week 1 - the marquee league opener at which the Super Bowl banner would traditionally be raised.
Brady's father defended his son, CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano reports.
"This was 'framegate' right from the beginning," Tom Brady Sr. told USA Today. "I don't have any doubt about my son's integrity- not one bit."
Owner Bob Kraft issued a spirited statement in defense of his team and questioned Wells' conclusions. "To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship Game, would be a gross understatement," he said.
But Wells concluded there was no plausible explanation for the deflated footballs except deliberate tampering. And text messages to and about Brady led the investigator to conclude that he was aware, if not more actively involved, in the scheme.
Regardless of his punishment, Brady's legacy is now tied to the scandal. But the main effect of that, Ganis said, could be to solidify opinions that are already largely entrenched: Opposing fans will continue to doubt him, and fans in New England, where he was once seen as a candidate for the U.S. Senate, will rally to his defense.