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The Associated Press reports that investigators hired by the National Football League have released a 243-page report concluding that it was "more probable than not" that an equipment manager and locker room attendant for the New England Patriots deflated footballs before the AFC Championship game last January so that they would be easier for quarterback Tom Brady to throw, and that Brady probably had knowledge of their actions.

The report said there was no evidence that coach Bill Belichick or team management knew of the practice. NFL officials said they would take the report under advisement and would decide what kinds of penalties, if any, would be appropriate.

Brady, Belichick and team owner Robert Kraft had previously denied any deliberate cheating.

Investigators conceded that their conclusions were largely based on circumstantial evidence, as well as email and text messages they were able to obtain from the equipment manager and locker room attendant. Brady, the report says, refused to make documents and electronic communications available to the investigators.

“To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the A.F.C. championship game, would be a gross understatement,” Kraft said in a prepared statement yesterday.

Brady did not comment on the report.
KC's View:
Do they have a smoking gun? No. But do the emails seem damning? Absolutely.

If there was one thing that was utterly predictable, it was that if any guilty parties were identified, it would be equipment managers and/or locker room attendants. It seems to me that the evidence also makes it clear that these guys didn't think much of Brady, and it also seems inconceivable that they would have done anything to the balls without his knowledge and at least tacit permission. If Brady were any sort of man and any sort of leader, he'd be standing with these low-level employees.

That's a good business lesson for any corporate executive, by the way. Take responsibility. Don't pass the buck to the low-level guys. That's gutless.

I think Brady needs to be suspended and fined. We'll find out just what kind of backbone NFL officials have when they make their decision.

One other thing ... in refusing to make his emails available to investigators, it would appear that Brady is taking public relations advice from the Hillary Clinton camp. Probably not a good idea.

Full disclosure. I'm a Jets fan. But that allegiance has no bearing on my opinion. Really.