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We fact-checked the Patriots' pee alibi with an actual urologist

Over at the newly created wellsreportcontext.com, you'll find a comprehensive and wildly entertaining rebuttal to the Wells Report, which concluded it was more probable than not that Tom Brady and some Patriots employees conspired to systematically deflate footballs. Even though it reads like a ridiculous truther blog someone threw together at the public library, this is an actual official document endorsed by the Patriots, with expert insights and all.

One particular section caught the attention of the SB Nation newsroom. What follows is a response to the finding that the "deflator," officials locker room attendant Jim McNally, brought two bags of footballs into the bathroom for one minute and 40 seconds, which seems like time enough to deflate the balls in his possession:

The report does not address whether one minute and 40 is consistent with the time that it takes a gentleman to enter a bathroom, relieve himself, wash his hands, and leave. In fact, it is. Nor does the report consider or acknowledge that, with the start of the game having been delayed, there was no reason for Mr. McNally to rush any efforts to deflate footballs in the bathroom if that was the task at hand. Mr. McNally had already been told that the start of the game had been delayed (from 6:40 to 6:50). He entered the bathroom with almost 20 minutes until game time. There was simply no need to rush were he engaged in releasing air from footballs — a process one would suspect would have to be done very carefully so as not to release too much air from any football. The one minute and 40 seconds in the bathroom was far more likely to have been for exactly the reason Mr. McNally gave.

There's a whole lotta nuts over at wellsreportcontext.com, but this seems a fair quibble. The simplest explanation is that McNally went to the bathroom to use it. The Wells Report didn't bother to study how long he would have taken if he'd just been relieving himself. Neither, to be fair, did wellsreportcontext.com.

So, is 1:40 a normal bathroom time? Let's find out.

1. Expert opinion

I called up a New Jersey-based urologist while he was at work doing urology. He wouldn't let me print his name for some reason, but he was happy to answer questions about the basics of adult male urination:

What is the average amount of urine that can be stored in a normal adult male bladder?

300 to 500 ccs. (Ed.: That's about 10-16 ounces)

How long should it take a normal adult male to urinate?

30 seconds or less.

What other factors outside the individual's control could affect that?

An enlarged prostate.

Anything else? Weather conditions? Time of day?

Nah, really shouldn't.

How long at maximum can a healthy adult male pee?

The usual time is under about 30 seconds. Some guys will go for 45 seconds. When it gets more than 45 seconds, I always get concerned about an enlarged prostate.

How long should a normal hand-washing take?

Minimum 15 seconds.

So a normal maximum-duration pee plus a normal hand-washing plus some time to shake, dry hands, and look in the mirror adds up to somewhere around a minute, it seems. With prostate issues, or some pooping, or some extra primping, or ... you know, deflating a dozen footballs, it might take longer. Let's try this ourselves.

2. Personal experimentation

A little before noon on Thursday, my colleagues Ryan Nanni and Rodger Sherman documented my trip to the Vox Media New York office bathroom to urinate. It wasn't a desperate pee, just a routine one. The endeavor was timed with a stopwatch from bathroom entrance to bathroom exit and streamed live for authenticity.

1:30 for me, and it was just a medium-length pee. Washing hands (and waiting for another person, which would not have been a problem in the deflator's single occupancy bathroom), drying hands, and checking to make sure I looked normal in the mirror really added up, I guess. It really is tough to get going when you can hear Ryan's dulcet voice in the background, too.

Here's Bob Ley with another take on the experiment:

And here's another volunteer from Twitter:

None of this constitutes a legitimate, scientific study, but it's closer to science than anything the Wells Report OR the Patriots' response could muster.

Our tentative conclusion: Maybe -- MAYBE -- the deflator was just going to the bathroom for that minute and 40 seconds. Literally everything else makes it seem like he was helping the Patriots cheat, but maybe that time in the restroom was spent honestly.

Feel free to participate in this experiment so we can really nail this down.

★★★