The public weighed in with 'Deflategate' judge before ruling

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NEW YORK (AP) — A judge who lifted New England quarterback Tom Brady's four-game "Deflategate" suspension last week got plenty of advice from the public before he ruled, including from a Nevada teacher who said her sixth graders thought Brady would be "plain stupid" if he couldn't tell balls were deflated after touching a football "a million times."

U.S. District Judge Richard Berman put more than a dozen letters into the case record Wednesday, thanking each writer and apologizing for a delay in responding to football fans including a doctor, a lawyer and a teacher.

It's unlikely the letters had any effect on his decision last week to lift Brady's suspension and criticize the league for its handling of the "Deflategate" investigation and disbursement of penalties after balls were discovered improperly deflated during New England's 45-7 trouncing of the Indianapolis Colts in January's AFC title game.

The judge did not cite them in his formal written ruling as he described documents he read before deciding the dispute.

As might be expected, letters originating from states in New England urged Berman to lift a suspension that was supposed to begin with Thursday's opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

"This whole controversy has been totally blown out of proportions through an unintelligent society and fan base biased against the Patriots," wrote John Homer Hikory of Windsor, Vermont.

In a letter dated Friday, a day after Berman ruled, Terri Adelman of Barrington, Rhode Island, wrote: "Thank you! Thank you! People with so much power, who are so dictatorial and vindictive are very very scary. If not confronted, they grow stronger."

Michael Bargo Jr. of Chicago instructed Berman do his own experiment, inflating two balls within a pound-per-square-inch of one another and then handle them.

"My guess is you won't be able to tell the difference," he said.

Patrick J. McGuirk of Greenville, Rhode Island, offered a more elaborate experiment for Berman, including wetting four to five balls "to simulate the weather game day" and putting them in a refrigerator for 90 minutes before checking their air pressure.

Others offered the results of their own tests.

Mak Saito, a scientist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, said his "low-budget" tests revealed the difference in balls at the January game could just as easily been blamed on weather conditions as on purposeful deflation.

At the end of his letter, Saito wrote: "I have considered working up these results for a peer-reviewed scientific publication, but frankly, I should probably spend my limited energies on our studies of the oceans and our human society's influence on them."

Vanessa Ivelich, a Reno, Nevada, teacher, urged Berman to punish Brady even though many youngsters in her school view him as their role model.

She said the sixth graders she teaches "believe Brady knew the footballs were altered given he touches them everyday and he has touched a football 'a million times.'"

She said they have told her Brady would be "plain stupid if he couldn't tell."

Ivelich wrote that her students have a hard time understanding why their hero played with deflated footballs without telling the officials.

Noting he destroyed his phone, she said: "He ate the evidence. Even a sixth grader knows better."


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