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NFL commissioner Roger Goodell upheld Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for #DeflateGate on Tuesday, and one major reason is because the NFL has claimed Brady destroyed his cell phone before investigators could examine it.
After it was alleged earlier this year that the New England Patriots quarterback, in conjunction with other team officials, conspired to deflate the footballs that were used by New England in the 2015 AFC title game vs. the Indianapolis Colts—thereby making them easier for Brady to throw—investigators asked for access to Brady’s phone to check his emails and text messages.
He declined to do so, and according to the league, it was revealed on June 18, four months after investigators asked for it, that Brady’s cell phone had been destroyed.
Expect this issue to move to the court system, as Brady, one of the greatest quarterbacks in history, attempts to protect his reputation and keep himself on the field for New England as it tries to defend last year’s Super Bowl title.
There had been reports leading to Tuesday’s release that the NFL and the player’s union were negotiating a reduced punishment for Brady. But an agreement obviously didn’t happen.
Here’s the NFL’s explanation of the loss of potential evidence from Brady.
At the hearing, Mr. Brady testified that it is his practice to destroy (or to give to his assistant to destroy) his cellphone and SIM cards when he gets a new cellphone. Mr. Brady also testified that, based on his typical practice, he would have asked to have the existing cellphone destroyed at or about the same time that he began using his new cellphone. According to records provided by Mr. Brady, he began using a new cellphone—and based on what Mr. Brady and his counsel described as his ordinary practice, gave his old cellphone to his assistant to be destroyed — on or about March 6, 2015, the very day that he met with Mr. Wells and his team to be questioned about the tampering allegations.
Even though the prior request for his text messages was discussed during that interview, neither Mr. Brady nor his counsel ever advised Mr. Wells that the cellphone that Mr. Brady had used during the key time period had been destroyed. During the four months that Mr. Brady used that cellphone, he exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages with a wide range of individuals. Following the appeal hearing, Mr. Brady’s representatives provided a letter from his cellphone carrier confirming that the text messages sent from or received by the destroyed cellphone couldno [sic] longer be recovered.
The record contains much more information bearing on this matter. It includes text messages between Mr. [John] Jastremski and Mr. [Jim] McNally in which Mr. McNally refers to himself as ‘the deflator”; that expressly refer to inflation and deflation of footballs and “needles” in the context of deflating footballs; and that reflect Mr. McNally’s requests for cash, shoes, clothing and items autographed by Mr. Brady.
It should also be noted that the union declined to make Jastremski, New England’s former equipment assistant, and McNally, the game officials’ locker room attendant for the Patriots, available for interviews with investigators.
Not everybody on Twitter was in agreement on the issue of Goodell upholding the punishment.
Exactly how stupid do you have to be to believe that the NFL is entitled to have access to Tom Brady’s cellphone?
— Sam Wilkinson (@samwilkinson) July 28, 2015
I would’ve gone with “The Gronk ate my phone.” Just as plausible, absolves you of guilt.
— John Walters (@jdubs88) July 28, 2015
Interesting that the NFL had no idea of the destroyed cell phone when it handed out the initial 4-game suspension
— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) July 28, 2015
Yes, all of this will affect the court system, the Patriots season, New England’s roster, and (probably) your fantasy football team.
But here’s the worst news of all: It looks like this couple won’t get to go on their honeymoon after all.
Photo via Keith Allison/Flickr (CC BY SA 2.0)
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.