In his final decision, Goodell wrote:
“The most significant new information that emerged in connection with the appeal was evidence that on or about March 6, 2015–the very day that he was interviewed by Mr. (Ted) Wells and his investigation team–Mr. Brady instructed his assistant to destroy the cellphone that he had been using since early 2014, a period that included that AFC Championship Game and the initial weeks of the subsequent investigation… 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.”
The NFL initially responded to the accusation that the Patriots were using under-inflated footballs by launching an investigation. Brady for the most part, was reported to be largely uncooperative during the investigation, and refused to hand over the aforementioned cell phone. At the conclusion of the investigation, the NFL handed down their decision on punishment which included fining owner Robert Kraft and the Patriots organization $1, the loss of a 2016 first-round pick and 2017 fourth-round selection, and Brady’s four game suspension. The response was applauded by many, however Brady and the Patriots took exception to what they viewed as a heavy-handed ruling. Brady decided to appeal the league’s ruling, and although owner Robert Kraft accepted the fine and the loss of the draft picks, he maintained the team’s innocence and has repeatedly expressed his confidence in the team’s star quarterback Tom Brady.
Following Goodell’s announcement, both Brady and Kraft issued statements, with Kraft expressing his “disappointment” with both the ruling, and the league’s front office, saying:
“The decision handed down by the league yesterday is unfathomable to me. It is routine for discipline in the NFL to be reduced upon appeal. In the vast majority of these cases, there is tangible and hard evidence of the infraction for which the discipline is being imposed. And still the initial penalty gets reduced… Six months removed from the AFC Championship Game, the league still has no hard evidence of anybody doing anything to tamper with the PSI levels of footballs. I continue to believe and unequivocally support Tom Brady… Once again, I want to apologize to the fans of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady. I was wrong to put my faith in the league.”
Brady, with the backing of the NFLPA, intends to file an injunction against the suspension. In a statement, the players association said, “The NFLPA will appeal this outrageous decision on behalf of Tom Brady.”
Brady’s agent Don Yee, echoed the sentiments of Goodell, saying of the ruling:
“The Commissioner’s decision is deeply disappointing, but not surprising because the appeal process was thoroughly lacking in procedural fairness… Most importantly, neither Tom nor the Patriots did anything wrong. And the NFL has no evidence that anything inappropriate occurred. The appeal process was a sham, resulting in the Commissioner rubber-stamping his own decision.”