New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady obstructed the NFL's investigation into Deflategate by destroying the cell phone he used during the time period surrounding the AFC championship game, commissioner Roger Goodell alleged in his decision upholding Brady's four-game suspension.
Brady was suspended in May after he was accused of having knowledge of game balls having been deflated prior to the playoff game against the Colts.
During the investigation, Brady had refused to turn over his phone to NFL investigators, who were looking for evidence of text messages between Brady and Patriots staffers Jim McNally and John Jastremski.
Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells on March 6 and allegedly purchased a new cell phone around that date. According to Goodell's decision, Brady testified that he habitually destroys his previous phone and SIM card when he purchases a new one and records provided by Brady showed that he gave his old phone to his assistant to be destroyed on or before the day he met with Wells.
During the four months prior to March 6, Brady had sent thousands of text messages, which cannot be accessed from the destroyed phone.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in the report that the evidence supports findings that "Brady participated in a scheme to tamper with the game balls" and that he "willfully obstructed the investigation" by having his cell phone destroyed knowing its importance as potentially relevant evidence.
"All of this indisputably constitutes conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football," Goodell wrote.
- Erin Flynn