Brady goes on offensive
Patriots quarterback files suit to stop suspension over deflated footballs
Tom Brady took the fight over his “Deflategate” suspension to social media and federal court on Wednesday, and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft backed the three-time Super Bowl MVP, saying “I was wrong to put my faith in the league.”
One day after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell rejected Brady’s appeal, the star quarterback posted a 507-word statement on Facebook with his firmest denial yet, writing: “I did nothing wrong.” Kraft followed with an unscheduled address to the media gathered at Gillette Stadium for the opening of training camp and the team’s defence of its fourth Super Bowl title.
“It is completely incomprehensible to me that the league continues to take steps to disparage one of its all-time great players, and a man for whom I have the utmost respect,” Kraft said. “I have come to the conclusion that this was never about doing what was fair and just.”
Just before the courts closed in Minnesota, the NFL Players Association asked U.S. District Judge David Doty to overturn Brady’s four-game suspension — or at least put it on hold until the case can be heard. The union asked Doty to throw out the suspension before Sept. 4; that would keep Brady from missing any practices before the Patriots’ Sept. 10 season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“We need to free him up for that first week,” union attorney Jeffrey Kessler told The Associated Press. “We don’t believe this discipline can ever be sustained.”
The lawsuit argues that the NFL made up its rules as it went along and misapplied the ones that were already on the books.
In an interview with the AP, Kessler called it “offensive” that the league accused Brady of destroying his cellphone to obstruct the investigation, a claim NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell made in upholding the sus- pension on Tuesday.
“We believe they highlighted this issue solely to inflame the public, to suggest there is some secret information being withheld, and that’s wrong,” Kessler said. “It’s an unfair character assassination of a player who has done nothing but be a model citizen for this league.”
Brady defended the cellphone swap on Facebook.
“To suggest that I destroyed a phone to avoid giving the NFL information it requested is completely wrong,” he said. “There is no ‘smoking gun’ and this controversy is manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrongdoing.”
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady holds up the game ball after the team’s NFL divisional playoff win over the Baltimore Ravens in Foxborough, Mass., on Jan. 10.