It’s been more than four months since Patriots staffers John Jastremski and Jim McNally were suspended indefinitely by the team presumably over their involvement in the Deflategate saga as detailed in the Wells Report.
On Tuesday, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said he wants the two employees back with the team, while NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said it was the Patriots that made the decision to suspend the duo.
“Of course,’’ Brady said when asked if he wanted Jastremski and McNally back on WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan’’ show. “Of course none of those things are my decisions, but I feel terrible for what they’ve been put through, what their family’s been put through. I know what my family’s been put through and what’s happened. I just feel terrible that they’re not with the team.’’
Brady defended all Patriots employees in any Deflategate-related wrongdoing in a July Facebook post when he wrote: “I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either.’’
About an hour after Brady spoke Tuesday, Goodell was asked about the two suspended employees on ESPN’s “Mike and Mike’’ show.
“Absolutely not,’’ Goodell replied when asked if he asked the Patriots to suspend Jastremski and McNally. “Absolutely not. No. That was a decision by the Patriots.’’
Goodell also said he asked both parties if he should hear from Jastremski and McNally during Brady’s appeal to the league in June.
“I asked both parties toward the end of the hearing, whether I should hear from them directly,’’ Goodell said. “Both parties, well particularly the union side, said that it was not necessary, they didn’t feel it was a necessary step. The management counsel side said, ‘We think we have sufficient information, but the fact that the union doesn’t want you to hear from them should be taken into account.’ I think they are important figures in this, but chose not to go any further with it at that point.’’
Goodell’s denial of initiating the suspensions are in direct conflict with a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who wrote in May that the “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.’’
In May, the NFL released the following statement on the suspension of the Patriots staffers.
“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.’’
Vincent tweeted last week that the Patriots have not contacted him about the Jastremski and McNally suspensions:
A8) We have not heard from the Patriots in regards to their 2 employees #TV23chat— Troy Vincent (@TroyVincent23) September 7, 2015
On Wednesday morning, ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio reported that the Patriots have requested reinstatement of Jastremski and McNally.
“Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the Patriots have indeed asked for the employees to be reinstated,’’ Florio writes. “The request was made on or before late Monday afternoon. It definitely was made before Tuesday; it possibly was made before Vincent said the league hadn’t heard from the Patriots.’’
Before last week’s preseason game in Foxborough, Patriots president Jonathan Kraft said on the Patriots Radio Network pregame show that Jastremski and McNally’s reinstatement would be discussed at some point.
“The way the discipline was set up by the league, the team and the employees that aren’t players are not covered by collective bargaining,’’ Kraft said according to CSNNE.com. “The team, and they were direct employees of the team, part of the discipline of the league was applying and getting permission from the league to reinstate them, and that’s something I’m sure we’ll be talking about.’’
While Goodell has been at odds with Patriots owner Robert Kraft since the investigation began into the underinflation of footballs in Foxborough, the NFL commissioner says that hasn’t changed the close relationship the two have shared through the years.
“It’s the same as it’s always been. We may disagree on this issue but Robert and I continue to have a very strong relationship,’’ Goodell said. “We continue to work on league matters that are important to us. We obviously disagree on this issue, but there’s a respectful disagreement about that. We continue to work on league matters and other matters as necessary.’’
As strong as the relationship with Kraft remains, Goodell has decided not to attending the Patriots fourth Super Bowl banner-raising ceremony at Gillette Stadium Thursday night.
“I certainly don’t want to be a distraction to that,’’ Goodell said. “I think everyone wants to get back to football. Certainly I do.’’
Robert Kraft and Roger Goodell through the years: