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In the wake of last week’s court ruling on the legality of Tom Brady’s suspension for involvement in Deflategate, the Patriots reportedly want to reinstate equipment assistant John Jastremski and officials locker room attendant Jim McNally — the two figures at the center of the ball deflation scandal who were subsequently suspended.
But before they are reinstated, the NFL must approve of the reinstatement. This wrinkle — that the NFL must approve of their reinstatement — is causing a fair amount of confusion regarding who exactly suspended the two in the first place.
Here is the original statement from the NFL released on May 11 regarding McNally and Jastremski’s suspensions:
Patriots owner Robert Kraft advised Commissioner Roger Goodell last week that Patriots employees John Jastremski and James McNally have been indefinitely suspended without pay by the club, effective on May 6th. Neither of these individuals may be reinstated without the prior approval of NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent. If they are reinstated by the Patriots, Jastremski is prohibited from having any role in the preparation, supervision, or handling of footballs to be used in NFL games during the 2015 season. McNally is barred from serving as a locker room attendant for the game officials, or having any involvement with the preparation, supervision, or handling of footballs or any other equipment on game day.
Note that the NFL explicitly states that Robert Kraft suspended the two on his own. At the time, this was interpreted as a major concession by the Patriots and possible even an admission of guilt: if nobody in New England had done anything wrong before the NFC Championship game, why, then, would Kraft suspend these two men?
But the other puzzling bit of the statement is the explicit stipulation by the league that they must approve of Jastremski and McNally’s reinstatement. As Pro Football Talk notes, it is unusual for the league to meddle in teams’ internal disciplinary decisions, which is partially why speculation and confusion has swelled regarding who exactly suspended the two Patriots employees.
This was all further complicated by ESPN’s Adam Schefter who reported contradictory information to the NFL’s statement. Schefter reported on May 19 that the Patriots suspended the two men at the behest of the NFL:
For those asking why Patriots suspended two employees if those two did nothing wrong, as New England claims: NFL asked Pats to suspend them prior to discipline being handed down, per a league source in New York. New England obliged with the NFL’s request.
Considering that the NFL mandated Troy Vincent’s approval prior to any reinstatement for Jastremski or McNally, it would make logical sense that the NFL, not the Patriots, suspended the two players. Why else would the Patriots randomly include this stipulation about needing the NFL’s approval? This line of thought is consistent, then, with the Patriots’ unwillingness to concede any sort of wrongdoing before the AFC Championship game whatsoever.
However, in an interview on Mike & Mike yesterday, Goodell flatly denied the allegation that the NFL pushed the Patriots to suspend the two.
“Absolutely not. That was a decision by the Patriots,” Goodell said.
One way or another, before either Jastremski or McNally is reinstated, the Patriots must reach out to Vincent. Vincent has yet to hear from New England, as he tweeted yesterday:
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