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NFL notebook: Wells Report called ‘deeply flawed’

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New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who will have the appeal of his four-game suspension heard on June 23 for his alleged role in Deflategate, may have received some help without even asking.

The American Enterprise Institute has examined the 243-page Ted Wells Report and finds it “deeply flawed” and “unreliable.”

An AEI report posted on its website and summarized in a New York Times article, headlined “Deflating Deflategate,” released Friday, calls into question the findings of the NFL-ordered Wells Report scandal that led to Brady’s four-game suspension by the league.

The American Enterprise Institute is a Washington, D.C.-based think tank whose mission is “to defend the principles and improve the institutions of American freedom and democratic capitalism — limited government, private enterprise, individual liberty and responsibility, vigilant and effective defense and foreign policies, political accountability, and open debate,” according its website.

AEI’s independent analysis is written by Kevin Hassett, Joseph A. Sullivan and Stan Veuger and rejects the finding that the footballs used by the Patriots in first half of the AFC Championship Game had a more significant drop in air pressure than those used by the Indianapolis Colts in the first half.

AEI advances theories that officials only had time to test four of the 12 Colts footballs at halftime and those game balls likely increased in air pressure while in a warmer environment than the 11 Patriots footballs that were tested with two different gauges and then re-inflated.

AEI’s analysis on NFL injury data in the New Orleans Saints’ Bountygate scandal helped New Orleans players have their league-imposed suspensions vacated in 2012.

Commissioner Roger Goodell informed the NFL Players Association earlier this month that its request to have him removed from Brady’s appeal was denied.

The NFLPA disagreed with the investigation on the premise that it was not truly neutral and that evidence was circumstantial. Wells attacked those claims. The NFLPA also disagreed with the authority of vice president Troy Vincent to hand down the disciplinary decision.

—Indianapolis Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, wants a new deal that would allow the Pro Bowler to earn his market value.

Colts owner Jim Irsay said last week the team hoped to sign Hilton to a new contract “sooner rather than later.”

There was some speculation the Colts might let Hilton walk after this season since they drafted wide receiver Phillip Dorsett as the 29th overall pick of the 2015 NFL Draft.

“If they want to pay me, they’ll pay me,” Hilton told the Indianapolis Star. “It takes both sides to come to an agreement. I leave that up to my agent and just go out there and have fun.”

Hilton will earn about $1.5 million in 2015. Dorsett, as the Colts’ first-round pick, will average more than $2 million per year on his recently signed four-year deal.

Hilton had a career-high 1,345 yards in receiving a year ago, with 82 receptions and seven touchdowns. In 2013, he also caught 82 passes for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns.

—Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison, who has already retired once, understands his reduced role with the team this season.

The 37-year-old Harrison also thinks he can continue to be a solid contributor for many more years as he heads into his 13th NFL season.

Harrison was asked by the Steelers to come out of retirement last September after linebacker Jarvis Jones dislocated his wrist. He re-established himself as the Steelers’ best pass rusher, recording 5 1/2 sacks with 45 tackles in 11 games.

The Steelers are planning to keep Harrison limited to 15-20 plays per game this season.

“Nobody wants to be in a backup role,” Harrison told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “If that’s your mentality, then you’re not in the right sport. Everybody wants to start, but we all have roles to play. I think I can play more than 25 snaps a game when I’m 50.”

Harrison, a five-time Pro Bowler, said he is in better shape than he was a year ago.

“I feel good, and I’m in a far better position than I was last year,” Harrison said. “I’m certainly in better shape. I can hit the ground running. My mindset is a little different (than last year) because I’m actually into football. Last year, it was just about working out. It’s about football conditioning now.”


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