NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announced that he will uphold Tom Brady’s four-game suspension on Tuesday afternoon, citing the quarterback’s decision to destroy his cell phone instead of handing it over to Deflategate investigators.
Goodell released a 20-page decision on the matter and said that Brady “participated in a scheme to tamp” with game balls in the AFC Championship game earlier this year. Here’s what you need to know about Brady’s phone and the impact it had on Goodell’s decision:
1. Brady’s Four-Game Suspension Was Upheld After He Admitted to Destroying His Cell Phone
The NFL announced on Tuesday afternoon that the league will uphold its four-game suspension of Brady for his involvement in the Deflategate scandal.
After weeks of back and forth reports, some of which even included suggestions that the league and the MVP quarterback were working towards a resolution, commissioner Roger Goodell opted instead to keep Brady sidelined after learning that he had destroyed his cell phone during the early stages of the Ted Wells investigation this year. The NFL released a statement on the decision, explaining:
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.
2. Brady Exchanged Nearly 10,000 Text Messages on the Phone
According to the NFL, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages with various individuals involved in the Deflategate scandal over the course of the four months the phone was in use.
The league wanted to use those text messages in its investigation surrounding the deflated footballs used in the AFC Championship game this year. Of course, now that the phone has been destroyed, none of those text messages can be retrieved.
Brady, who did not tell the league he destroyed his phone until June 18, told officials that he regularly destroys his old phone when he gets a new one. However, he offered no explanation for the coincidental timing of this most recent destruction.
3. Investigators Had Requested Brady’s Phone in March
The NFL first requested to view Brady’s phone, per a statement, “on or shortly before March 6,” when the New England Patriots standout met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues.
It was around that date that Brady instructed, allegedly to an assistant, that the phone be destroyed. The NFL’s statement on the decision read:
(Brady) 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.
NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported on Tuesday that the NFL and NFLPA exchanged offers for a potential settlement for Brady’s suspension, however the quarterback was not willing to miss games and, after learning about the destroyed cell phone, the league was not willing to budge.
4. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith Suggested Brady Destroyed His Phone on ‘Firs Take’
Smith, no stranger to making headlines of his own, added some early-morning shockwaves to ESPN’s First Take on Tuesday morning when he said that a source had told him that Brady destroyed his phone – several hours before the NFL released its official statement on the suspension.
The TV personality continued by saying that a separate source had told him Goodell was not planning on reducing Brady’s suspension. He backtracked on the claim later though, saying that his information on the quarterback’s cell phone was just “something I heard.”
5. Brady & His Legal Team Plan to Take the Appeal to Court
After announcing his intention to appeal the four-game suspension a few weeks ago, Brady and his legal team indicated that if he was not allowed to return to the game, he would be taking his case to court.
Well, it seems as if we are now heading to court.
Brady reported to Patriots training camp on July 27 but moving the case to federal court is not as simple as just saying that’s the plan. The NFLPA will, likely, attempt to move the process along as quickly as possible, particularly with the regular season looming, but if even if Brady wins, the NFL will probably answer with its own appeal of that decision. Brady is still allowed to participate in all team activities until week one when backup Jimmy Garoppolo would assume the role as starter. That might make for an interesting training camp.
If Brady’s four-game suspension stands, he would return to play against the Indianapolis Colts on October 18.