NFL commissioner Goodell citing destroyed cellphone in Brady football decision
The commissioner pointed to concealed evidence. The team described it as a folly. And the agent added sham to the lexicon of “Deflategate.”
Then the players’ union said it would take it all to court.
Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in using underinflated footballs during the AFC championship game was upheld Tuesday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Goodell said the New England quarterback told an assistant to destroy Brady’s cellphone on or just before March 6. Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells on that day.
“He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone,” Goodell said in his decision.
“During the four months that the cellphone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device.”
Calling the appeal process “a sham,” Brady’s agent, Don Yee, said Goodell “failed to ensure a fair process” in upholding the quarterback’s four-game suspension.
The Patriots used the words “folly” and “incomprehensible” in their statement, then said they “unequivocally believe in and support Tom Brady.”
Brady acknowledged in his testimony he was aware of inves- tigators’ request for information from the cellphone before he had it destroyed, the appeal decision said.
After releasing the report in May, Wells said he had told Brady and Yee he did not need to see his phone and would have accepted a list of communications.
Wells’ investigation had no subpoena power and Brady was under no legal obligation to cooperate.
The NFL had some messages from Brady sent to an equipment manager’s phone, but in- vestigators wanted to see if Brady’s cellphone had other messages related to footballs.
The four-time Super Bowlwinning quarterback was suspended by NFL executive Troy Vincent in May following the Wells report. The Patriots were fined $1 million and docked a pair of draft picks. The team didn’t appeal its penalty, but Brady appealed.
The NFL Players Association said in a statement on Tuesday that it would appeal in court.
“The NFL resorted to a nebulous standard of ’general aware- ness’ to predicate a legally unjustified punishment,” the union said, adding, “the NFL violated the plain meaning of the collective bargaining agreement.”
Moments after announcing Goodell’s decision, the league filed action in U.S. District Court in New York against the union, saying the NFL commissioner has the right under the labour agreement to hand out such discipline “for conduct that he determines is detrimental to the integrity of, or public confidence in, the game of professional football.”
In this Feb. 1 file photo, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady warms up before the NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game against the Seattle Seahawks in Glendale, Ariz.