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A Deflategate movie is coming out –– and it has nothing to do with deflated footballs

02.03.17 at 3:46 pm ET
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There’s a documentary coming out about Deflategate. It has nothing to do with deflated footballs.

Director Julie Marron is nearing completion of the film, “Four Games in Fall: The Genius Marking of Deflategate.” The documentary takes a look at some of the larger themes of the scandal, including how the NFL manipulated the media to spread false information, such as ESPN’s report about 11 of 12 Patriots footballs being 2 PSI below the legal limit.

Tom Brady served his Deflategate suspension this season, almost two years after the alleged violation.

Tom Brady served his Deflategate suspension this season, almost two years after the alleged violation. (Screenshot via Lemon Martini Productions)

“We’re exploring three things in this film: manipulation of the media, misrepresentation of science, and abuse and perversion of the legal system,” Marron said. “Those are the things we’re really looking at. On the surface you have a very trivial event that just involves an equipment violation, and yet, you have this very serious and concerted event that was made on the part of one of the parties to really manipulate the media, to cement public opinion by leaking misinformation and not allowing correct information to get out there, and then kind of switching it up and focusing on other types of things where they can kind of craft the story in a way that’s to their advantage. So to me, this is a really fascinating story.”

Deflategate first caught Marron’s eye when the NFL announced it was hiring attorney Ted Wells and the research firm Exponent to investigate the matter. An executive in corporate strategy, Marron is well aware of Exponent’s practices. The company once published tobacco industry-backed studies that deny the existence of second-hand smoke.

“I’m very familiar with the kind of work they do in terms of product liability and industry-sponsored clients,” she said. “So for me, that was a real eye-opener. I thought it was really intriguing that they had been brought in to examine allegations of deflated footballs. That, to me, seemed preposterous –– and intriguing.”

Using Exponent’s expertise, Wells concluded it was “more probable than not” that Tom Brady was aware of the Patriots’ illegally deflated footballs in the 2015 AFC championship game. But that finding goes against scientific consensus. A litany of independent scientists, including MIT’s Dr. John Leonhard, who Marron interviewed for the film, don’t believe there was any wrongdoing. The footballs, they say, naturally lost air pressure in the cold weather –– much like tires.

In addition to Dr. Leonhard, Marron speaks Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann, Barstool Sports’ Jerry Thornton and a litany of others who closely followed the Deflategate saga. Even though the scandal is two years old, it was still one of the top storylines during Super Bowl week in Houston. Marron says the NFL is fortunate for that.

“Obviously, it’s been a really useful tool for the NFL in terms of deflecting attention away from more important issues facing the league,” she said. “The thing about the concussion is, this is an existential threat to the organization. The fact that the NFL supported faulty research and lied to the public about the facts of concussions –– that’s scientific misconduct. They have these dubious research findings that are now out in the public. That, to me, is phenomenal. Certainly Deflategate has been a really useful tool to deflect attention away from serious issues facing the league and facing human beings.”

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