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New England Patriots Clarify: 'Deflator' Refers To Weight Loss

Days after a stinging report and punishment was announced by the NFL over "deflategate," the New England Patriots have elaborated on their response, publishing its own scientific findings and version of events online.

On Monday, the NFL suspended Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for four games, fined the Patriots $1 million and stripped the team of a first-round draft pick over the findings in the report by attorney Ted Wells' investigative team.

Brady and members of the Patriots organization have said they didn't know of any wrongdoing — and that the punishments are too harsh. Thursday, Brady filed an appeal of his suspension through the NFL Players Union.

Today, the Patriots announced a new website called The Wells Report In Context, which includes the findings of biophysicist Roderick MacKinnon, who offers his own explanation for why footballs used by the Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts had different air pressure levels at halftime. (In short, MacKinnon cites different gauges and insufficient data — but his report is detailed, so feel free to read it yourself.)

The site also puts forth the idea that when two members of the Patriots' stadium staff used the term "deflate," they were talking about losing weight — not about breaking the NFL's rules on football inflation, as the league says.

Wells' report criticized both Brady and the team for not providing enough cooperation, and it also reprinted communications between equipment assistant John Jastremski and officials' locker room attendant James McNally, saying the two had been discussing gifts for McNally and the use of a needle to deflate footballs. McNally refers to himself as "the deflator" in one exchange with Jastremski.

The Patriots site says of the NFL's investigators:

"They never asked Mr. Jastremski about it in his interview. Had they done so, they would have learned from either gentleman one of the ways they used the deflation/deflator term. 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)."

The Patriots did not explain what it means to "give somebody that jacket."

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Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.