The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
I told you so (here): the NFL's case is something of an embarrassing joke—a "simple misunderstanding" leading to "incorrect conclusions." Three economists at the American Enterprise Institute ( Kevin A. Hassett, Joseph W. Sullivan, and Stan A. Veuger) have published a devastating critique of the Wells Report that was prepared by the NFL's lawyers. Their findings, in summary form:
Our findings are as follows. First, the Wells report contains sufficient data to explore the question of whether the Patriots deflated their footballs using statistical techniques. Second, the Wells report's statistical analysis cannot be replicated by performing the analysis as described in the report. Third, the Wells report's results can (for the most part) be replicated when we use a different, flawed modeling approach that fundamentally differs from the approach described in the report. Fourth, the Wells report failed to recognize the importance of the logical link between two of its areas of inquiry: whether the Patriots balls were deflated more than the Colts balls, and whether the Patriots balls were at a pressure that could be explained without recourse to wrongdoing by the Patriots.
When correct tests are performed, the evidence points to a conclusion that is inconsistent with the Wells findings. Our evidence suggests a specific sequence of events. The Wells report conclusions are likely incorrect, and a simple misunderstanding appears to have led the NFL to these incorrect conclusions.