Our long, ridiculous national nightmare is over. Roger Goodell has finally—finally—made a decision on Tom Brady's appeal of a four-game suspension handed down for his role in the DeflateGate scandal: the four-game ban stands. In the statement, Goodell says that Brady "directed" that his cell phone be destroyed on or before his March 6th meeting with Ted Wells.
Goodell termed that action to be more than mere non-compliance—with an admitted request, not any kind of official or legally compulsive order—and supported a finding that Brady "sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs." That's a real sentence issued by the National Football League.
The entire statement, courtesy of Adam Schefter can be read below:
In the opinion informing Brady that his appeal had been denied, Commissioner Goodell emphasized important new information disclosed by Brady and his representatives in connection with the hearing.
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.
For months, Brady's team has threatened to go to court if any part of his suspension was upheld, and now it's time to put up or shut up. It should be noted that even though the actual phone was destroyed, the text messages should probably still be available from his provider, which is something that could influence the decision to go to court.