The NFL has given permission for the Patriots to reinstate the two employees at the center of the Deflategate incident.
Assistant equipment manager John Jastremski and officials locker room attendant Jim McNally had been suspended without pay by the Patriots since May 6, when the NFL released Ted Wells’s report investigating the Patriots’ alleged ball-deflation before January’s AFC Championship game.
The league announced in May that the two employees could not be reinstated without permission from NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent. The Patriots requested that permission last week, McNally and Jastremski met with Vincent this week, and the NFL announced Wednesday that “the Patriots have satisfied the league’s requirements for reinstatement and the league has granted permission for the employees to return.”
Part of the condition was that neither Jastremski nor McNally would be allowed to be involved in the handling, supervision, or preparation of game balls for the 2015 season. McNally, a game-day-only employee, also is barred from serving as a locker room attendant for the game officials.
The Patriots declined to provide details about McNally’s new job or who will be responsible for preparing footballs.
The NFL alleged that before the AFC Championship game on Jan. 18 McNally improperly left the officials’ locker room with the Patriots’ game balls and took them into a bathroom to let out some of the air pressure in the footballs, and he did so under the orders of Jastremski and quarterback Tom Brady.
The Patriots’ denied all wrongdoing but were fined an NFL-record $1 million and docked two draft picks — a 2016 first-rounder and 2017 fourth-rounder. Brady was given a four-game suspension for being “generally aware” of the alleged scheme but won a federal lawsuit vacating the suspension.Ben Volin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @BenVolin