The NFL announced today that they have upheld the four-game suspension for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for his role in deflategate and in not cooperating with the investigation. With the four-game suspension, that means that Brady's 2015 season debut will be in week six. Against the Colts. In Indianapolis. If there's one game to circle on the calendar for NFL fans, it's the October 18th Sunday Night Football game that will pit the Colts (the team against which the Patriots were caught cheating) against the Patriots in Brady's return.
Of course, Brady's legal team is now likely to take this to court, so the saga isn't over. We've yet to hear officially about that being the course of action, but it is the expected one. So we'll have to see what happens from here, but the NFL today upheld the suspension. And as seemed to be the case in the first place, the suspension seems to be more for not cooperating with the investigation and covering it up than for actually having a role in deflating footballs. As is often the case, the cover up is worse than the crime.
Here's a very interesting new piece of information from the league in their release today: Tom Brady had his cell phone destroyed right around the time he was going to be interviewed for the Wells Report:
"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. Wells and his investigative team - Mr. Brady instructed his assistant to destroy his cellphone that he had been using since early November 2014, a period that included the AFC Championship Game and the initial weeks of the subsequent investigation. During the four months that it was in use, almost 10,000 text messages were sent or received by Mr. Brady using that cellphone. At the time that he arranged for its destruction, Mr. Brady knew that Mr. Wells and his team had requested information from that cellphone in connection with their investigation."
So here's the deal: Tom Brady conveniently replaced his cell phone on or around March 6 for no apparent reason, and the phone was destroyed - though he didn't reveal that information to the NFL until months later. Brady said that his policy is simply to destroy old phones when he gets a new one, but the phone that he had used before November 2014, however, was still available. Why was the one phone still available several months later, but the other was destroyed almost immediately - and right around the time of the interview?
Look, that alone is very suspicious. But let's just give Brady the benefit of the doubt for the sake of argument and say that he does typically destroy old phones - something that could make sense for someone as popular as Brady is. Destroying it right around the time of the interview while aware that the NFL wanted it means either one of two things: a) Brady was trying to hide something, or b) he made the stupidest decision ever. Seriously, wouldn't someone have pointed out that, even if he wasn't intentionally trying to hide something and just following an old practice, that it would at least look very much like he was trying to hide something? I refuse to believe that Brady is that stupid to simply make an oversight like that, and therefore it appears very much like Brady was attempting to hide something by destroying his cell phone.
Because of that, the NFL felt it had grounds to uphold the four-game suspension, which they announced today. Brady will miss games against the Steelers, Bills, Jaguars, and Cowboys, as well as the Patriots' bye week. His return will be in week six against the Colts. As a result of the suspension, it also means that one of the Colts' biggest competitors in the AFC will be without their best player for a quarter of the season, something that could have a big impact on seeding for the playoffs.