The National Football League has upheld a four-game suspension of New England Patriots star quarterback Tom Brady for his role in the football tampering scandal known as “Deflategate,” the league announced in a news release Tuesday.
Commissioner Roger Goodell, in affirming the suspension he handed down in May, said new information about the destruction of Brady’s cell phone showed the four-time Super Bowl champion “sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs.”
On or about March 6, the day Brady was interviewed by investigators hired by the NFL, Brady instructed his assistant to destroy his cell phone that he had been used since early November, a period that included the AFC Championship Game and the initial weeks of the subsequent investigation into the allegations of tampering with the footballs.
The destruction of the cell phone wasn’t disclosed until June 18, almost four months after investigators had requested electronic information from Brady.
The phone contained more than 10,000 text messages.
The NFL players’ union said in an email: “We need time to digest the ruling before we will be able to respond or provide a statement.”
Brady had denied involvement
Goodell’s decision is the latest chapter in a controversy that started when the New England Patriots were accused of using under-inflated footballs to gain a competitive advantage in January’s AFC championship victory over the Indianapolis Colts.
Brady denied involvement but the NFL suspended him four games without pay in May. Brady appealed, setting up the decision by Goodell.
The Super Bowl-winning Patriots were punished, too. The team was fined $1 million and will forfeit its first-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft and its fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft.
Lawyer Ted Wells, who led the investigation, said Brady probably had at least a general knowledge about how the balls were deflated.
The report said the likely perpetrators were equipment assistant John Jastremski and the man who carried the balls from the officials’ locker room to the field, Jim McNally.
What will Brady — one of the best-known and highest-paid athletes in the United States — do next?
He has the option of filing a lawsuit and taking the fight to the court system.
Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson did so and won his suit — filed on his behalf by the players’ union — in February. He was reinstated by the NFL in April. The NFL’s appeal of the case is pending.
The league suspended the 30-year-old football star indefinitely in November over allegations that last year he disciplined his son, who was 4 at the time, too harshly with a “switch,” or thin stick.
If he accepts the suspension, Brady will sit out games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys. He would return October 18 in a game at Indianapolis.