-- The NFL said the New England Patriots can reinstate the two employees at the center of what a league investigation found was a scheme to use improperly inflated footballs in the AFC championship game.
Equipment assistant John Jastremski and officials locker room attendant Jim McNally were reinstated Wednesday after the team requested they be allowed to return.
"The Patriots have satisfied the league's requirements for reinstatement and the league has granted permission for the employees to return," the league said in a statement.
The team suspended Jastremski and McNally as part of the investigation into whether the footballs the team provided for the AFC Championship Game were improperly inflated. In one of the more damning texts uncovered in the probe, McNally referred to himself as "the deflator."
ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter reported in May that the Patriots suspended Jastremski and McNally at the request of the NFL. In an interview with ESPN Radio's Mike & Mike last week, however, commissioner Roger Goodell said the league had nothing to do with suspending the pair.
"Absolutely not," Goodell said. "That was a decision by the Patriots."
The Patriots were fined $1 million and docked two draft picks as punishment. Quarterback Tom Brady had his four-game suspension vacated by a federal judge, who ruled that it exceeded the penalty allowed by the collective bargaining agreement.. The NFL has appealed.
Patriots spokesman Stacey James would not elaborate on what role McNally and Jastremski would have for the team.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this report.