NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his role in the DeflateGate scandal, according to the NFL. In a statement released by the league office Tuesday afternoon, Goodell stuck with the initial punishment when he received information that Brady destroyed his cellphone.
Ten thousand text messages in four months. The further implication here could be that the appeal process potentially made things worse between Goodell and Brady. The conventional thinking, as is often the case with NFL suspensions, was that it would be reduced. Greg Hardy had his suspension — for a domestic violence accusation, no less — reduced from 10 to four games earlier this offseason. And now that Brady allegedly decided to destroy his phone, he’ll be out the same amount of time.
“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,” the NFL’s email said.
According to the report, “at the hearing, Mr. Brady testified that it is his practice to destroy (or give to his assistant to destroy) his cellphone and SIM cards when he gets a new cellphone.” Even if you do believe that, there has to be some question about how Brady is looked at as a quarterback now. How will this new destroyed phone scandal hang over his increasingly bruised legacy?
Goodell dismissed the notion because this was a first time offense of its kind, that the penalty was not appropriate. He went on to reference Bountygate, Brett Favre’s harrassment of a New York Jets employee and two other incidents involving tampered balls. “In terms of the appropriate level of discipline, the closest parallel of which I am aware is the collectively bargained discpline imposed for a first violation of the policy governing performance enhancing drugs; steroid use reflects an improper effort to secure a competitive advantage in, and threatens the integrity of, the game,” he wrote.
At the end of the 20-page report, Goodell said he had no choice to uphold the suspension.
“I entered in the appeal process open to reevaluating my assessment of Mr. Brady’s conduct and the associated discipline. Especially in light of the new evidence introduced at the hearing – evidence demonstrating that he arranged for the destruction of potentially relevant evidence that had been specifically requested by the investigators – my finding and conclusions have not changed in a manner that would benefit Mr. Brady,” the commissioner wrote in conclusion. “Notwithstanding my enormous respect for this accomplishments on the field and for his contributions and role in the community, I find that, with respect to the game balls used in the AFC Championship Game and the subsequent investigation, Mr. Brady engaged in conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football.”