NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in the Patriots’ Deflategate scandal. Brady had appealed the suspension, and though the league and the NFL Players Association had reportedly been in settlement talks in recent days, the future Hall of Fame quarterback reportedly wouldn’t accept any deal unless it included no suspension and made clear his punishment was for failing to cooperate with the investigation and not for breaking football rules.
In a statement released today, the NFL said that Goodell’s ruling “emphasized important new information disclosed by Brady and his representatives in connection with the hearing.” That new information? That shortly before meeting with the independent investigator, Brady had a cell phone he’d been using for four months destroyed. From the NFL’s release:
On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. 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. During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.
Based on the Wells Report and the evidence presented at the hearing, Commissioner Goodell concluded in his decision that Brady was aware of, and took steps to support, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL’s Official Playing Rules. The commissioner found that Brady’s deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs.
Via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe, here’s the section of the ruling where Brady explains why the phone was destroyed:
A report last week said that if the decision in Brady’s appeal included any suspension at all, he would challenge the ruling in federal court. In other words: Stay tuned.