New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady vowed to fight his four-game suspension for the scandal known as Deflategate, writing Wednesday in a 507-word Facebook post: “I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either.”
Breaking his silence a day after NFL commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the punishment, Brady also denied destroying his cellphone to keep it out of the hands of investigators.
“To suggest that I destroyed a phone to avoid giving the NFL information it requested is completely wrong,” said Brady, a three-time Super Bowl MVP said. “There is no ‘smoking gun’ and this controversy is manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrongdoing.”
Brady was suspended four games and the team was docked $1 million and two draft picks after the league found improperly inflated footballs were used in the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. Investigator Ted Wells zeroed in on two equipment managers — one who called himself “The Deflator” — and said Brady was “at least generally aware” of the illegal deflation scheme.
The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl for their fourth NFL title under Brady and coach Bill Belichick.
Brady, who had earlier denied cheating accusations with the tepid “I don’t think so,” more forcefully defended himself in the Facebook post, claiming he cooperated with the investigation except where doing so would have set a bad precedent for his union brethren.
“I respect the Commissioners authority, but he also has to respect the (collective bargaining agreement) and my rights as a private citizen,” Brady wrote. “I will not allow my unfair discipline to become a precedent for other NFL players without a fight.”
Much of the post involved an explanation of Brady’s cellphone swap, which was cited by Goodell as new evidence of the quarterback’s failure to cooperate. Brady said he replaced a broken phone only after his lawyers told the league they couldn’t have it.
“Most importantly, I have never written, texted, emailed to anybody at anytime, anything related to football air pressure before this issue was raised at the AFC Championship game in January,” he wrote.
Brady’s comments were liked by 51,000 people — including his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen — in the first 30 minutes after it was posted on Facebook. The Patriots were scheduled to open training camp later Wednesday; it was not clear when Brady would speak to the media for the first time.
The full text of Tom Brady’s statement
I am very disappointed by the NFL’s decision to uphold the 4 game suspension against me. I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either.
Despite submitting to hours of testimony over the past 6 months, it is disappointing that the Commissioner upheld my suspension based upon a standard that it was “probable” that I was “generally aware” of misconduct. The fact is that neither I, nor any equipment person, did anything of which we have been accused. He dismissed my hours of testimony and it is disappointing that he found it unreliable.
I also disagree with yesterdays narrative surrounding my cellphone. I replaced my broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone 6 AFTER my attorneys made it clear to the NFL that my actual phone device would not be subjected to investigation under ANY circumstances. As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedent going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr. Wells investigation, that failing to subject my cell phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline.
Most importantly, I have never written, texted, emailed to anybody at anytime, anything related to football air pressure before this issue was raised at the AFC Championship game in January. To suggest that I destroyed a phone to avoid giving the NFL information it requested is completely wrong.
To try and reconcile the record and fully cooperate with the investigation after I was disciplined in May, we turned over detailed pages of cell phone records and all of the emails that Mr. Wells requested. We even contacted the phone company to see if there was any possible way we could retrieve any/all of the actual text messages from my old phone. In short, we exhausted every possibility to give the NFL everything we could and offered to go thru the identity for every text and phone call during the relevant time. Regardless, the NFL knows that Mr. Wells already had ALL relevant communications with Patriots personnel that either Mr. Wells saw or that I was questioned about in my appeal hearing. There is no “smoking gun” and this controversy is manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrongdoing.
I authorized the NFLPA to make a settlement offer to the NFL so that we could avoid going to court and put this inconsequential issue behind us as we move forward into this season. The discipline was upheld without any counter offer. I respect the Commissioners authority, but he also has to respect the CBA and my rights as a private citizen. I will not allow my unfair discipline to become a precedent for other NFL players without a fight.
Lastly, I am overwhelmed and humbled by the support of family, friends and our fans who have supported me since the false accusations were made after the AFC Championship game. I look forward to the opportunity to resume playing with my teammates and winning more games for the New England Patriots.