In rejecting New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's appeal and keeping it at four games, commissioner Roger Goodell has held a hard line and introduced new evidence -- that Brady’s appeal revealed that he willfully obstructed the league’s investigation by destroying his cellphone on or around the same day he was scheduled to meet with investigators.
Brady, per the NFL’s ruling, explained that it is his routine to destroy his cellphone and any SIM cards whenever he gets a new phone.
The NFL isn’t buying that explanation, which on the surface doesn’t look good for Brady.
The new information, coupled with Goodell's decision, is a surprise to me on two levels.
First, the thinking has been that the suspension was handed down with the idea that it would be trimmed on appeal, likely to two games; the NFL would prefer to over-punish and then correct as opposed to going too light initially.
Second, the four-game suspension aligns with that of Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy, which was finalized July 10.
So Brady gets four games in 2015 for underinflated footballs and lack of cooperation, and Hardy gets four games in 2015 for multiple violations of the league’s personal conduct policy during an incident with a former girlfriend that is troubling, to say the least.
Those aren’t a match, and it highlights some of the eye-opening inconsistencies in how the NFL governs player discipline.
But today’s news from the NFL that Brady acknowledged destroying his cellphone, whether it was part of his regular routine or not, adds another twist in this back-and-forth between the league and the franchise quarterback.
Brady has already reported for training camp, and he’s still allowed to participate throughout. As for whether he’ll be participating in the NFL opener, that will almost certainly be decided in federal court.
Just like we thought all along, with today’s news about Brady’s cellphone a new and relevant wrinkle.