Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in the New England Patriots’ “Deflategate” scandal was upheld Tuesday by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, who said the star quarterback “engaged in conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football.”
Last month, Brady met with Goodell at the NFL’s offices in New York, with the hopes of clearing his name in the wake of the so-called Wells Report – which found he was “generally aware” of the Patriots’ attempts to deflate balls in their AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts – and reduce his subsequent suspension. But in a statement released Tuesday, Goodell made it clear that new evidence introduced at that hearing convinced him to remain resolute on the four-game ban.
“I entered into the appeal process open to reevaluating my assessment of Mr. Brady’s conduct and the associated discipline,” Goodell said. “Especially in light of the new evidence…demonstrating that he arranged for the destruction of potentially relevant evidence that had been specifically requested by investigators, my findings and conclusions have not changed.”
Goodell specifically mentioned Brady’s destruction of his phone as an attempt to obstruct the NFL’s investigation, protect team employees and perhaps even hide evidence of his own role in the scandal.
“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,” the commissioner’s statement read. “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.”
Brady will miss the first four games of the 2015 season, including the opening-night kickoff against the Pittsburgh Steelers on September 10. He is still permitted to participate in offseason workouts and training camp activities, and can still sue the NFL to return to the field. Earlier this year, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson – along with the NFL Players Association – successfully sued the league to have his suspension overturned.
As a result of the findings of the Wells Report, the Patriots were also fined $1 million and stripped of draft picks in 2016 and 2017.