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Patriots Claim 'Deflator' Reference In Employee Texts Is About Weight Loss

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Take this for what it's worth, but it seems pretty thin.

The New England Patriots claim a team employee called himself the "deflator" because he was trying to lose weight, not because he was part of some plot to take the air out of footballs at the behest of quarterback Tom Brady, as the Wells Report seems to allege.

The following nugget, a clarification of a text message conversation between team employees Jim McNally and John Jastremski, was the highlight of a nearly 20,000-word rebuttal of the Wells Report that the Patriots issued on Thursday.

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." (p. 87). This banter, and Mr. McNally's goal of losing weight, meant Mr. McNally was the "deflator." There was nothing complicated or sinister about it.

The "deflategate" scandal has become the talk of the sports world, pitting the Patriots against seemingly everyone else, leading to endless opinions from fans, players and members of the media. Just this week, two former NFL quarterbacks, Chris Simms and A.J. Feeley, came down hard on Brady for apparently playing outside the rules. Speaking to WFAN's Joe Benigno and Evan Roberts, Simms called Brady a "cheater," while Feeley cited a game in 2004 in which he claims the Patriots were using "beat-up" footballs instead of brand new ones, as required in accordance with NFL rules at the time.

Following the release of the 243-page Wells Report, in which it was determined Brady was "at least generally aware" of the rules violations regarding proper air pressure in footballs, Troy Vincent, the NFL's executive vice president of football operations, suspended the three-time league MVP for the first four games of the 2015 season. Vincent also fined the Patriots $1 million and stripped them of their first-round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth-rounder in 2017.

Brady formally appealed his suspension on Thursday, with the NFLPA requesting his case be heard by an independent arbitrator.

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