Chris Mortensen defends original Deflategate report, admits tweaks were necessary

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen is still talking about his Deflategate story.
ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.

Chris Mortensen wasn’t on The Dan Le Batard Show to apologize. Rather, the ESPN reporter took the airwaves Monday to defend his report after the 2015 AFC Championship Game that 11 of the Patriots’ 12 balls were underinflated two PSI. That information later proved false.

Mortensen said he wasn’t going to retract that report — just reword it.

“I already had changed the descriptive tone. And I did with our news desk, pretty early, to ‘significantly underinflated.’ And I will never retract that,’’ he said, via The Big Lead. “The two pounds PSI, that was obviously an error and clarified and corrected. If you want to call it a retraction — what I didn’t do was retract it on Twitter. And that was probably technically a mistake.’’


Mortensen’s January 21 report escalated the Deflategate madness. Prior to it, there was only news of the “possibility the Patriots deflated footballs,’’ as reported by WHTR’s Bob Kravitz.

Mortensen said that the quantitative elements (11 balls underinflated two PSI) of the report were less important.

He said he believes the necessary corrections have been made.

“Now that’s my job to do a better vetting job as a journalist,’’ he said. “But let me ask you this question: If I had simply reported, which I did include in the original report, that 11 footballs were found to be significantly under inflated, what would the reaction have been? The same, I think.“

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The Patriots organization pleaded with the NFL in the emails leaked on August 31 to correct ESPN’s false reports, and the NFL did not.

Mortensen has tried to keep himself from being a story within the story, and backed out of an interview with WEEI to avoid putting himself at the center of the discussion. He said he doesn’t blame his sources, and said the NFL didn’t launch an investigation based on his report. But Mortensen said the NFL shouldn’t have hired an independent investigator.


“There should have been a review, get it to the competition committee, slap people on the wrist and move on.’’ he said. “But that’s not what the league chose to do.’’

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