By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) - The two suspended New England Patriots employees who were implicated in the "Deflategate" saga surrounding footballs used by quarterback Tom Brady were given permission to return to the team, the NFL said on Wednesday.
Equipment assistant John Jastremski and locker room manager Jim McNally were suspended without pay by the Patriots in May following an investigation into whether the footballs the team provided for the game were inflated below NFL standards.
"Last week, the New England Patriots requested the reinstatement of both John Jastremski and Jim McNally," an NFL spokesman said in a statement.
"The Patriots have satisfied the league's requirements for reinstatement and the league has granted permission for the employees to return."
McNally and Jastremski, key figures in the "Deflategate" scandal, likely participated in a plan to release air from the balls after they were examined by the referee, according to the report by Ted Wells, an attorney hired by the league.
The report detailed what Wells described as incriminating texts by Jastremski and McNally, and in one of them, McNally called himself "the deflator". The report concluded Brady was "at least generally aware" of the deflation scheme.
The development comes nearly two weeks after a federal judge vacated the NFL's four-game suspension of Brady due to "several significant legal deficiencies," including a failure to notify the four-times Super Bowl winner that football deflation could be punished by suspension. The league has appealed the ruling.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Mark Lamport-Stokes)