The NFL has upheld the four-game suspension for Tom Brady for his role in the New England Patriots Deflategate scandal.
The “most significant new information” that came to the NFL’s attention during Brady’s appeal is that he destroyed the mobile phone used during the period that included the AFC Championship game and the weeks after.
According to the NFL, Brady instructed his assistant to destroy the phone even though information from the phone had been requested by Ted Wells as part of the Deflategate investigation. Furthermore, the phone was destroyed “on or about March 6, 2015,” which was the day Brady was to be interviewed by Wells and his team.
Brady’s agent explained, which was later confirmed by Brady during the appeal, that it was ordinary practice to destroy his old phones once he gets a new one. The idea is “to destroy the phone so that no one can ever, you know, reset it or do something where the information is available to anyone.”
Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, who is an attorney, called this “a problem” even if it is normal practice.
Habit or not, if Brady destroyed the phone with awareness of the pending request to review its contents, that’s a problem.
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) July 28, 2015
However, the NFL argues that not only did Brady not offer an explanation for why he chose that date to destroy the phone, Brady’s own actions suggest it is not normal practice to do so. According to the NFL, Brady did not destroy the phone used prior to the one that was destroyed and even made it available to investigators. Brady used this phone from the spring of 2014 to November 6, 2014, but it was still around when forensic expert Brad Maryman examined Brady’s electronic data in the spring of 2015. The NFL found this suspect:
“This conflicts with the fact that the mobile phone that [Brady] had used prior to November 6, 2014 was, in fact, available for Mr. Maryman’s review. Had Mr. Brady followed what he and his attorneys called his ‘ordinary practice,’ one would expect that the mobile phone that he had used prior to November 6, 2014 would have been destroyed long before Mr. Maryman was hired. No explanation was provided for this anomaly.”
The NFL goes on to call the decision to destroy the mobile phone “very troubling,” calling Brady’s actions “a deliberate effort to ensure that investigators would never have access to information that he had been asked to produce” and “an affirmative effort by Mr. Brady to conceal potentially relevant evidence and to undermine the investigation.”
In the end, Brady’s own actions may have undermined his appeal.
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