Tom Brady has released a lengthy criticism of the NFL’s decision to uphold his four-game suspension over the Deflategate scandal.
Brady was given the ban after a report, conducted by investigator Ted Wells, found that he was “generally aware” that New England Patriots officials deliberately deflated footballs during the team’s victory over the Indianapolis Colts in last season’s AFC Championship game. On Tuesday, the NFL threw out Brady’s appeal and added that Brady had ordered his cellphone to be destroyed in order to cover up evidence that might implicate him in the scandal.
“I also disagree with yesterday’s narrative surrounding my cellphone. I replaced my broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone 6 AFTER my attorneys made it clear to the NFL that my actual phone device would not be subjected to investigation under ANY circumstances,” read a statement on his Facebook page.
“As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedent going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr Wells’ investigation, that failing to subject my cell phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline.
“Most importantly, I have never written, texted, emailed to anybody at anytime, anything related to football air pressure before this issue was raised at the AFC Championship game in January. To suggest that I destroyed a phone to avoid giving the NFL information it requested is completely wrong.”
Brady added that there was no “smoking gun” when it came to his punishment. “The NFL knows that Mr Wells already had ALL relevant communications with Patriots personnel that either Mr Wells saw or that I was questioned about in my appeal hearing. There is no ‘smoking gun’ and this controversy is manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrongdoing.”
There has been speculation that Brady will take his fight to federal court, a theory that Brady did not quash in his statement. “I will not allow my unfair discipline to become a precedent for other NFL players without a fight,” he added.
An NFL Players Association source told the Washington Post that Brady’s argument for a reversal would center on five points:
- The league’s policy for ball inflation pertains to club personnel and not players and thus doesn’t apply to Brady.
- The Wells Report’s finding that Brady was “at least generally aware” of the wrongdoing is an insufficient legal standard.
- If it’s determined the league’s policy for ball inflation did apply to Brady, he was issued a punishment without precedent, which is illegal under the collective bargaining agreement.
- The NFL will argue the punishment was arbitrary citing the example of the Minnesota Vikings, who last year received a letter from the league and no further reprimand after being caught playing balls in a dryer.
- The NFL doesn’t have proper techniques and standards for measuring the inflation and deflation of footballs.
The Patriots were fined $1m and docked two draft picks for their part in the scandal but chose not to contest their punishment. The team went on to win the Super Bowl last season.
Brady ended his statement by thanking those who have supported him. “Lastly, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the support of family, friends and our fans who have supported me since the false accusations were made after the AFC Championship game. I look forward to the opportunity to resume playing with my team-mates and winning more games for the New England Patriots.”
This article was written by Tom Lutz in New York, for theguardian.com on Wednesday 29th July 2015 13.27 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010