The NFL suspended Tom Brady for four games for his role in the New England Patriots’ deflated footballs scandal on Monday.
In a letter informing the team of the punishment, NFL executive VP Troy Vincent cites Brady’s lack of full cooperation with the investigation as one of the reasons for his suspension. The basis for this is Brady’s refusal to grant investigators access to relevant emails and text messages on his cell phone.
Vincent told the team “the failure of Tom Brady to produce any electronic evidence (emails, texts, etc.), despite being offered extraordinary safeguards by the investigators to protect unrelated personal information” contributed to his punishment.
“Although we do not hold the club directly responsible for Mr. Brady’s refusal to cooperate, it remains significant that the quarterback of the team failed to cooperate fully with the investigation,” Vincent wrote.
The Wells report also criticised Brady for this, saying he wouldn’t turn over the cell phone even though his lawyers could “screen and control” which texts they saw:
“Similarly, although Tom Brady appeared for a requested interview and answered questions voluntarily, he declined to make available any documents or electronic information (including text messages and emails) that we requested, even though those requests were limited to the subject matter of our investigation (such as messages concerning the preparation of game balls, air pressure of balls, inflation of balls or deflation of balls) and we offered to allow Brady’s counsel to screen and control the production so that it would be limited strictly to responsive materials and would not involve our taking possession of Brady’s telephone or other electronic devices. Our inability to review contemporaneous communications and other documents in Brady‟s possession and control related to the matters under review potentially limited the discovery of relevant evidence and was not helpful to the investigation.”
On Tuesday, lead investigator Tedd Wells gave some more details about this on a conference call. He said that they didn’t even request Brady’s phone, they just needed printouts of certain communications:
Ted Wells said he told Tom Brady that he wouldn’t even hold his phone. Would just take printouts. Brady would not provide the information
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 12, 2015
And he affirms Brady refusing to turn over his texts/emails was only example of Brady not cooperating.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 12, 2015
Though the NFL couldn’t force Brady to give up his phone, his refusal to hurt him in the end.
Wells didn’t get his hands on Brady’s texts and emails, but electronic communications from the phones of employees Jim McNally and John Jastremski were what led investigators to believe Brady was “generally aware” of a plot to deflate footballs. Text messages between employees Jim McNally and John Jastremski referenced Brady’s inflation preferences, and communication between Brady and Jastremski increased dramatically after the AFC championship game.
Brady was within his rights to not hand over phone records, but it ultimately contributed to a harsh punishment, costing him the beginning of the 2015 season and a few million dollars.
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