Arbitrator Roger Goodell has upheld Tom Brady‘s full four-game suspension, the league announced today (Twitter link via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe). The NFL’s statement on the ruling cites “important new information” when explaining Goodell’s decision to keep Brady’s penalty at four games, as Adam Schefter of ESPN.com details. The statement reads, in part, as follows:
“On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.
“Based on the Wells Report and the evidence presented at the hearing, Commissioner Goodell concluded in his decision that Brady was aware of, and took steps to support, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL’s Official Playing Rules. 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.”
We’ve heard all along that, with no reduction on the penalty for the Patriots quarterback, Brady and the NFLPA were expected to continue to fight the decision in court. It’s not clear if the revelation that Brady had his cell phone destroyed changes that at all, but I’d be surprised if the Super Bowl MVP and the players’ union simply accepted Goodell’s ruling. According to Brady, “it is his practice to destroy his cellphone and SIM cards when he gets a new cell phone.”
Assuming Brady and the NFLPA do take the case to court, they’d likely seek an injunction so that he could continue to see the field for the Pats while the legal situation plays out. However, that could be a risky approach, depending on when the case is resolved — if Goodell’s decision is upheld in court, Brady would have to serve the suspension immediately, potentially during a much more crucial point in the season.
Goodell’s full 20-page explanation of his decision can be found here.