Tom Brady says the NFL is wrong about his broken cell phone and unwillingness to share records of his calls and text messages. The Patriots quarterback issued a statement via his Facebook page Wednesday morning, following the NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's decision to uphold Brady's four-game suspension.
Clocking in at a cool 500 words, the statement covers a lot of ground, starting with Brady maintaining that nobody within the Patriots organization did anything wrong, himself included. He attacked the standards the NFL used to claim that he was "generally aware" of tampering with footballs, and said that he never wrote, texted or emailed the two locker room attendants or anyone else about taking air out of the balls.
The statement gets interesting in the third paragraph. That's where Brady opens up about what really happened to his cell phone and sharing the records of his calls and texts with the league.
Brady denies destroying his phone so that he didn't have to hand it over to the NFL. He says that he replaced his broken Samsung phone with an iPhone after his attorneys told him that investigators would not be given the phone itself.
As for what was on the phone, Brady says that they turned over "detailed pages" of phone records and all of the emails requested by the Wells investigators. They also went to the phone company to retrieve the relevant messages from his broken phone. The NFL acknowledged that last part in the 20-page statement explaining Goodell's decision, buried in a footnote on page 12.
The league declined to work with the phone company to retrieve the details of Brady's cell phone records because it was "simply not practical." That line and Goodell's effort to make it sound like Brady's phone was deliberately destroyed prior to meeting with investigators doesn't instill much confidence in the the NFL's ad hoc approach to disciplining players.
Brady's phone has been the NFL's MacGuffin throughout the DeflateGate saga. Goodell and the league cited Brady's refusal to cooperate -- specifically his supposed refusal to provide them with the phone and what was on it -- as a factor in handing out the four-game suspension and then standing by its decision upon appeal.
The quarterback spoke to that in his statement as well, teasing the crux of the union's argument against the league in the upcoming court battle. From Brady's statement (emphasis added):
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.
The union and the league are getting ready to duke it out over a venue for the case. The most likely next step would be an injunction that would allow Brady to play while the fight plays out in the courts. Throw on the possibility of appeals and we might have plenty more statements to parse in the weeks and months ahead.
Here's Brady's full statement:
I am very disappointed by the NFL's decision to uphold the 4 game suspension against me. I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either.
Despite submitting to hours of testimony over the past 6 months, it is disappointing that the Commissioner upheld my suspension based upon a standard that it was "probable" that I was "generally aware" of misconduct. The fact is that neither I, nor any equipment person, did anything of which we have been accused. He dismissed my hours of testimony and it is disappointing that he found it unreliable.
I also disagree with yesterdays 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. 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.
To try and reconcile the record and fully cooperate with the investigation after I was disciplined in May, we turned over detailed pages of cell phone records and all of the emails that Mr. Wells requested. We even contacted the phone company to see if there was any possible way we could retrieve any/all of the actual text messages from my old phone. In short, we exhausted every possibility to give the NFL everything we could and offered to go thru the identity for every text and phone call during the relevant time. Regardless, 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.
I authorized the NFLPA to make a settlement offer to the NFL so that we could avoid going to court and put this inconsequential issue behind us as we move forward into this season. The discipline was upheld without any counter offer. I respect the Commissioners authority, but he also has to respect the CBA and my rights as a private citizen. I will not allow my unfair discipline to become a precedent for other NFL players without a fight.
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 teammates and winning more games for the New England Patriots.
SB Nation presents: How Pats fans feel about the Wells Report