Tom Brady’s 4-Game Suspension Upheld by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell
After months of back-and-forth, the National Football League has decided not to shorten Tom Brady's four-game suspension for tampering with game balls prior to January's AFC Championship game. The league released a statement announcing its decision Tuesday afternoon, specifically citing Brady's decision to destroy the cellphone he had been using when the alleged infractions occurred, which the NFL claimed could have held evidence of Brady's guilt:
In his 20-page decision, Goodell wrote:
The evidence fully supports my findings that (1) Mr. Brady participated in a scheme to tamper with the game balls after they had been approved by the game officials for use in the AFC Championship Game and (2) Mr. Brady willfully obstructed the investigation by, among other things, affirmatively arranging for destruction of his cellphone knowing that it contained potentially relevant information that had been requested by the investigators. All of this indisputably constitutes conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football.
The controversy, known as "Deflategate," erupted just prior to the Super Bowl matchup between Brady's New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks. Several of the footballs used by Brady during the previous game were found to have been underinflated, enough below the league-approved guidelines that it may have made it easier for Brady to throw and for his receivers to catch, particularly in a rain-affected game like the AFC Championship.
Brady and the Patriots denied any intentional wrongdoing, and many figured that Goodell's initial decision to suspend the star quarterback for the first four games of the 2015-16 season would be cut back to two games or possibly thrown out altogether. But settlement talks between Brady and the NFL broke down over the last few days. The NFL Players Association may decide to take the league to court and sue for Brady's reinstatement, but at the moment the union is reviewing the NFL's official statement.
As of mid-Tuesday afternoon, Brady and the Patriots have yet to respond.
Here is the full decision: