Who “Told” Exponent Not to Consider Switching Scenario?

The transcript of the Brady appeal before Goodell has been released and it’s astonishing to see how the sausage was made.  It raises many issues, one of which I’ll discuss in today’s post.

In my previous commentary on the case, I’ve drawn attention to the fact that NFL officials at half-time, despite heightened scrutiny, inadvertently switched gauges between Patriot and Colt balls and pointed out that (1) it is not known that referee Anderson used the same gauge for pregame measurement of both Patriot and Colt balls; and (2) a scenario in which Anderson used the Logo gauge for measuring Patriot balls and Non-Logo gauge for Colt balls reconciles otherwise discordant information.  If Anderson put the gauge back in his pocket between team measurements, then surely there would be an approximately 50% chance that he would use the same gauge and 50% that he would use a different gauge.

Reading between the lines of Goodell’s ruling, it had seemed to me that Brady’s lawyer and technical expert had badly damaged their case by overlooking or under-emphasizing this line of argument.  I was particularly interested in how this scenario was handled in the hearing.

My surmise about Dean Edward Snyder, Brady’s technical expert, was entirely correct. Snyder did not mention this scenario at all.

The topic only came up in the direct examination of Caligiuri of Exponent by the NFL lawyer. The lawyer asked Caligiuri to comment on the AEI report, which had raised the possibility of Anderson switching gauges (but which did not carry the analysis of this scenario forward into analysis of the transients, as I had done at CA). The NFL lawyer asked:

Q. And with respect to the AEI report, one of
15 the criticisms or observations made by AEI was that,
16 “There was no statistically significant difference
17 between the pressure drop of the Colts’ balls versus
18 the Patriots’ balls if you assume the logo gauge was
19 used pre-game as opposed to the non-logo gauge.”
20 Do you have a reaction or response to that
21 criticism?

Caligiuri answered:

22 A. Yes, I found that to be unfounded as well.

23 What the AEI report did is look at four possible
24 combinations pre-game. All the measurements were
25 made with the logo gauge. All the measurements were
made with the non-logo gauge.

2 And then, for some reason, which there is no
3 evidence of, Walt Anderson switched them out. He
4 measured Patriots’ balls with the logo and the
5 Colts’ balls with the non-logo and then the other
6 way around. So he looked at four possibilities.

7 Two of those possibilities just don’t make
8 sense because there’s never been any indication that
9 Walt Anderson switched the gauges in the middle of
10 his pre-game measurements. We had no indications.

11 We were actually told to assume that that did not
12 happen because there was no evidence that that
13 happened outside of AEI. We take those two
14 scenarios off the table.

15 The other two scenarios, there is one set of
16 combinations within those within which you could get
17 to the conclusion that the p-factor as we heard
18 about today was 6.7 percent, but there’s problems in
19 that analysis as well.

Although litigation lawyers tend to be very quick and Brady’s lawyer, Jeffrey Kessler, is said to be especially accomplished, Kessler did not cross-examine Caligiuri on this answer and the topic disappeared.

The question is not whether we “know” that Anderson switched gauges, but whether we know that he used the same gauge for both measurements, given that NFL officials at half-time switched gauges.  There is no record of which gauge was used for which measurement even at half-time, let alone pre-game.  Unless one knows that the same gauge was used, both alternatives are equally worthy of analysis and neither should be precluded.

Now watch Caligiuri’s continuation:

We were actually told to assume that that [Anderson switching gauges] did not happen because there was no evidence that that happened outside of AEI. We take those two scenarios off the table. [my bold]

This answer raises more questions than it answers.  Caligiuri says that Exponent was “told” not to consider the switching scenario, but doesn’t say who told them and Kessler didn’t ask him.  But it surely invites the question:  who told Exponent not to consider the possibility that Anderson had switched gauges?  

Presumably, the instructions came from Wells. But why would Wells preclude analysis of such an important scenario – one raised not just by AEI, but by MacKinnon and others? And what conceivable basis would Wells have for precluding analysis of this possibility? And why were such instructions not reported in Exponent’s report, together with disclosure that they had been instructed not to analyse the scenario?


10 Comments

  1. mpainter
    Posted Aug 5, 2015 at 1:36 PM | Permalink

    Also, if Exponent was “told” not to consider the possibility of the gauge switch, then presumably this possibility had been raised and discussed, but by whom? perhaps actually investigated. More questions.

    How “independent” was the Wells Report, in truth?
    By Exponents own admission, they were instructed on how to conduct their analysis, forbidden to include an important scenario in their analysis, one that would explain the halftime ball pressures. More questions. Did Exponent vet their procedures with Wells or someone?

  2. MikeN
    Posted Aug 5, 2015 at 1:53 PM | Permalink

    Exponent was told to assume the Colts balls were compliant, thus precluding the 71F logo scenario.

    I think you have some details wrong.

    Is there a difference between know in quotes and bold? I don’t see the difference between your two items of what is known.

    It is not known that the referees switched gauges, only concluded from the data. Without the measurements, if you had asked the referees, Wells would have had to similarly conclude that there is no evidence of a gauge switch by the referees at halftime.

    I think Snyder did mention the change of gauges. It’s why I said Exponent talked about it more.

    Also, I read it as gauge switch was not considered for their report, but only after AEI wrote the rebuttal. Exponent may very well have reported to Wells their agreement but told to ignore that possibility.

    • MikeN
      Posted Aug 5, 2015 at 2:03 PM | Permalink

      I think I misunderstood page 188 “assuming that Mr Anderson used one and then the other”

  3. CaligulaJones
    Posted Aug 5, 2015 at 2:05 PM | Permalink

    A good analysis here:

    http://deadspin.com/5-thoughts-on-tom-bradys-case-from-a-guy-who-read-the-w-1722183616

    • Follow the Money
      Posted Aug 5, 2015 at 4:58 PM | Permalink

      “I want to express my appreciation to Ted Wells and his colleagues for performing a thorough and independent investigation, the findings and conclusions of which are set forth in today’s comprehensive report”

      –Roger Goodell

    • Follow the Money
      Posted Aug 5, 2015 at 5:26 PM | Permalink

      I read your link, I think he’s to hard on Brady. First, Brady is no Peyton Manning–speaking-skills wise. Two, according to the transcript, Brady’s keen concern for “preparation” of the balls was indeed their texture (“smoothness”). See page 396 and so on discussion about “gloving.”

    • Pat Frank
      Posted Aug 5, 2015 at 7:23 PM | Permalink

      According to Keith Draper at that link, Exponent received more than $600,000 for their work.

      Steve has done a better job.

      Apparently, your Deflategate analysis is worth at least $600,000 by professional accounts, Steve.

      Without wanting to know anything about what you charge as a consultant, given the time you’ve spent on the analysis, would you say that $600,000 for it is a generous recompense? 🙂

      One analysis like that per year. After 5 years, one could retire.

  4. EdeF
    Posted Aug 5, 2015 at 11:06 PM | Permalink

    Why was it more reasonable for the nfl to assume that the Patriots deflated the balls than that the ref may have accidently switched gauges?

  5. Gary
    Posted Aug 6, 2015 at 7:32 AM | Permalink

    “…why would Wells preclude analysis of such an important scenario…?”

    Because from the NFL’s point of view it’s never been about finding out exactly what happened. Its scientific analysis has been done only to bolster its primary motive which is to knock down the extraordinary ability of the Patriots to win more than the average for the League over the last 15 years. The core of the playing rules is parity — losing teams get to draft higher to acquire the better new players, very specific regulations govern equipment and play, off-season practices are limited, etc. This effort to penalize the Patriots way beyond what a minor infraction deserves is about leveling the field. The team has already surrendered 1st and 4th round draft picks and $1M, yet the League still penalizes it’s most accomplished currently active quarterback on speculative grounds. In the background are complaints that the other owners think the Patriots’ owner has been too cozy with the Commissioner, that black players have been punished for bad behavior more severely than white players, that the Patriots’ head coach is too arrogant and got off too lightly for an earlier infraction of the rules. So the League is looking for a way to enforce the parity that the rules can’t seem to do. The irony that seems to allude partisans is that by claiming a player cheated, the League actually is cheating to get the parity it wants. The hypocrisy is so obvious nobody sees it. Taking a superior player out of the game for 25% of the season makes it much more likely the team will not win as much. That’s why Wells is incurious.

  6. mpainter
    Posted Aug 6, 2015 at 8:11 PM | Permalink

    Who Told Exponent Not to Consider Switching Scenario?

    ###

    My bet is one of the attorneys, Wells or Reisner told off Exponent. But did he or she do this “independently”?
    I think not. I think it likely that someone at the NFL conferred with them and nixed consideration of that scenario.

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