New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady remained steadfast in saying he did nothing to warrant a four-game suspension and refuted commissioner Roger Goodell's contention that he deliberately destroyed evidence as the league investigated his and others' roles in the Deflategate scandal.
In a statement made via Facebook on Wednesday, Brady said he was "very disappointed" by the NFL's decision to uphold his suspension and that "no one in the Patriots organization" did anything wrong, either.
Later Wednesday, Patriots owner Robert Kraft also sounded off on Goodell's decision, saying, "I was wrong to put my faith in the league."
Goodell on Tuesday cited new evidence that emerged during Ted Wells' investigation: On or shortly before March 6 -- the day Brady was interviewed by Wells and his investigative team -- Brady instructed his assistant to destroy the cellphone he had been using since early November 2014, a period of time that included the AFC Championship Game, during which Brady was accused of using underinflated footballs. Goodell said that Brady was aware of, and took steps to support, the actions of team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels allowed under NFL rules.
"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," Brady said on his Facebook page in response to the NFL's assertion that he destroyed the phone even though he was aware that investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on it. "To suggest that I destroyed a phone to avoid giving the NFL information it requested is completely wrong."
According to the NFL, during the four months the cellphone was in use, Brady sent and received nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved, and at the time he arranged for its destruction, Brady knew that Wells and his team had asked for information from the cellphone.
Despite repeated requests for information from the phone, the fact that Brady destroyed it was not disclosed to the NFL until June 18 and was not confirmed until the day of Brady's appeal hearing June 23.
During that appeal hearing, the NFL says Brady said it was his practice to destroy his cellphone and SIM cards when he gets a new cellphone.
Goodell said in the league's statement that Brady "went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the scheme."
The NFL's case in New York has been assigned to Judge Richard M. Berman, who's directed the NFLPA to respond to the initial filing by Aug. 13. At the time the union responds, Berman said he would schedule a conference with the sides.
During settlement talks, the NFL Players Association requested that the record of Brady's appeal be sealed so that, in the NFL's opinion, the information that Brady destroyed his cellphone would not become public, a league official told ESPN. The NFL declined to do so.
A source told ESPN's Jim Trotter that Brady has authorized the NFLPA to appeal his case in federal court, where he is expected to seek an injunction that would allow him to play while his case works its way through the courts. The league and Brady's representatives had engaged in settlement talks but couldn't find common ground, which was expected.
The NFL told Brady that if he acknowledged that Patriots ball attendants Jim McNally and John Jastremski were doing something illegal, and if he acknowledged that he didn't cooperate with the league, the NFL would be willing to reduce his suspension to two or maybe even one game, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter. Brady declined to agree to the offer, which as one source said, "tells you how Tom feels about this case."
Brady, who turns 38 on Aug. 3, will miss the first four games this season unless the case goes to court. Jimmy Garoppolo, a second-round draft pick in 2014, would replace Brady.
New England hosts Pittsburgh on Sept. 10 to open the regular season. The Patriots then go to Buffalo, host Jacksonville, have a bye, and are at Dallas in the last game of Brady's suspension. Oddsmakers at William Hill US, though, continue to keep the Patriots at 7-2 to win the AFC title and 8-1 to win Super Bowl 50.