The NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell announced Tuesday that the league will uphold the four-game suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for his involvement in Deflategate.
The decision follows the appeal filed by the NFL Players’ Association on behalf of Brady last month and reveals further unsavory tactics by the quarterback during the time of the league’s investigation.
“Mr. Brady engaged in conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and the public confidence in, the game of professional football,” Goodell’s decision said.
Brady was originally handed the penalty in May following the release of the 243-page Wells report, which detailed that Patriots’ personnel “more probable than not” deliberately deflated game balls to give the quarterback an advantage and that Brady similarly was aware. The league at the time also fined the Patriots $1 million, and stripped them of their 2016 first-round draft pick and 2017 fourth-round draft pick. Patriots owner Robert Kraft said the team will accept those punishments imposed on the club.
Brady denied any involvement in “the scheme to deflate the footballs,” Goodell said. But the commissioner said he “cannot credit this denial, citing an “unusual pattern of communication” between Brady and the Patriots staff, who are believed to have tampered with the footballs.
“In short, the available electronic evidence, coupled with information compiled in the investigators’ interviews, leads me to conclude that Mr. Brady knew about, approved of, consented to, and provided inducements and rewards in support of a scheme by which [Patriots staff] tampered with game balls,” Goodell said.
Goodell’s own response to the NFLPA’s appeal further condemned Brady, who he said on or about ”the very day” he was interviewed for the Wells investigation on March 6, ordered his cell phone to be destroyed. Brady had been using the phone since November 2014, which therefore, included the period of the “deflategate” game in question: the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts on January 18.
“At the time that he arranged for its destruction, Mr. Brady knew that Mr. Wells and his team had requested information from that cellphone in connection with their investigation,” Goodell said in his decision.
He added that the move was not only “very troubling,” but shows that Brady “made a deliberate effort” to prevent investigators from obtaining information from his cellphone.
The NFL commissioner added that despite repeated requests for information form Brady’s phone, it was not confirmed until the day of the appeal hearing in June that it was, in fact, destroyed. Goodell further stated that Brady “failed to cooperate” with the Wells investigation, which found some records of communication between Brady and the two Patriots staff members (who have since been indefinitely suspended by the team) prior to and following the Deflategate fallout.
In particularly, shady behavior from the quarterback, Goodell detailed that Brady testified in his appeal hearing that “it is his practice” to destroy cell phones when he acquires a new one. He just so happened to conveniently obtain a new cellphone the day he was interview for the deflategate investigation and, aw shucks, forgot to tell the league or investigators that he did so, until four months later.
Goodell also took aim at the NFLPA, characterizing the union’s failure to seek out the Patriots’ staff involved for testimony “an adverse inference,” particularly the individual, who in texts, called himself “the deflator.”
Requests to Brady’s lawyer and the NFLPA for comment have not yet been returned.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.
Goodell’s full decision is below.
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