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Bill Belichick on Brady suspension: It’s already been addressed

Bill Belichick AP

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to uphold Tom Brady’s four-game suspension has led to angry statements in response from Brady, his agent, the NFLPA and Patriots owner Robert Kraft, but coach Bill Belichick didn’t offer any additional thoughts during his training camp press conference on Wednesday morning.

Belichick opened the presser by referencing the other statements and saying that there’s “nothing really to talk about there” from his perspective. That didn’t stop questions from being asked, however, and Belichick showed he hasn’t lost his knack for sticking with the same answer.

“Q: Is there something flawed about the system here in the organization that you keep ending up in these cheating controversies? Can you explain why?

BB: It’s already been addressed.

Q: Could you elaborate a little?

BB: No.

Q: Why not?

BB: Because it’s already been addressed.

Q: Well, people have a lot of questions – the public, fans.

BB: You heard what Robert just said. It’s already been addressed. Maybe you ought to go back and look at your notes.

Q: I want your opinion.

BB: It’s already been addressed.”

Questions about conversations with Brady, the challenges of preparing the team when they might not have Brady for the first four games of the season and why the team suspended Jim McNally and John Jastremski were waved away just as easily with Belichick repeating that the team is focused only on the 2015 season. No one who’s familiar with the Patriots coach would have expected anything too different from Belichick and we wouldn’t expect anything to change from the coach even as fireworks continue to be lobbed back and forth by everyone else involved.

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Robert Kraft tees off on Brady ruling

Robert Kraft AP

[Editor’s note: On Wednesday morning, Patriots owner Robert Kraft unexpectedly provided a statement to the media before a previously-scheduled press conference from coach Bill Belichick. The full text of Robert Kraft’s statement appears below.]

I felt it was important to make a statement today, prior to the start of training camp. After this, I will not be talking about this matter until after the legal process plays itself out, and I would advise everyone in the organization to do the same and just concentrate on preparation for the 2015 season.

The decision handed down by the league yesterday is unfathomable to me. It is routine for discipline in the NFL to be reduced upon appeal. In the vast majority of these cases, there is tangible and hard evidence of the infraction for which the discipline is being imposed, and still the initial penalty gets reduced. Six months removed from the AFC championship game, the league still has no hard evidence of anybody doing anything to tamper with the PSI levels of footballs.

I continue to believe and unequivocally support Tom Brady. I first and foremost need to apologize to our fans, because I truly believe what I did in May, given the actual evidence of the situation and the league’s history on discipline matters, would make it much easier for the league to exonerate Tom Brady.

Unfortunately, I was wrong.

The league’s handling of this entire process has been extremely frustrating and disconcerting. I will never understand why an initial erroneous report regarding the PSI level of footballs was leaked by a source from the NFL a few days after the AFC championship game, [and] was never corrected by those who had the correct information. For four months, that report cast aspersions and shaped public opinion.

Yesterday’s decision by Commissioner Goodell was released in a similar manner, under an erroneous headline that read, “Tom Brady destroyed his cellphone.” This headline was designed to capture headlines across the country and obscure evidence regarding the tampering of air pressure in footballs. It intentionally implied nefarious behavior and minimized the acknowledgement that Tom provided the history of every number he texted during that relevant time frame. And we had already provided the league with every cellphone of every non-NFLPA that they requested, including head coach Bill Belichick.

Tom Brady is a person of great integrity, and is a great ambassador of the game, both on and off the field. Yet for reasons that I cannot comprehend, there are those in the league office who are more determined to prove that they were right rather than admit any culpability of their own or take any responsibility for the initiation of a process and ensuing investigation that was flawed.

I have come to the conclusion that this was never about doing what was fair and just. Back in May, I had to make a difficult decision that I now regret. I tried to do what I thought was right. I chose not to take legal action. I wanted to return the focus to football.

I have been negotiating agreements on a global basis my entire life. I know there are times when you have to give up important points of principle to achieve a greater good. I acted in good faith and was optimistic that by taking the actions I took the league would have what they wanted. I was willing to accept the harshest penalty in the history of the NFL for an alleged ball violation because I believed it would help exonerate Tom.

I have often said, ‘If you want to get a deal done, sometimes you have to get the lawyers out of the room.’ I had hoped that Tom Brady’s appeal to the league would provide Roger Goodell the necessary explanation to overturn his suspension. Now, the league has taken the matter to court, which is a tactic that only a lawyer would recommend.

Once again, I want to apologize to the fans of the New England Patriots and Tom Brady. I was wrong to put my faith in the league. Given the facts, evidence, and laws of science that underscore this entire situation, it is completely incomprehensible to me that the league continues to take steps to disparage one of its all-time great players, and a man for whom I have the utmost respect.

Personally, this is very sad and disappointing to me.

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Tom Brady: I’m very disappointed, I did nothing wrong

Getty Images Getty Images

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has issued a statement denying any wrongdoing in Deflategate, and decrying NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to suspend him for the first four games of the season.

“I am very disappointed by the NFL’s decision to uphold the 4 game suspension against me,” Brady wrote on Facebook. “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.”

Although Brady didn’t specifically say so, his next step will be to go to court to attempt to have his suspension overturned. This battle isn’t over, and Brady doesn’t sound ready to give up the fight.

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Eric Berry is cleared to practice on Wednesday

Tennessee Titans v Kansas City Chiefs Getty Images

And now it’s time for a little good news. Or a lot of great news.

The Chiefs have announced that safety Eric Berry has been cleared to return to practice on Wednesday, when the team launches training camp. The final decision came Tuesday night.

On Wednesday, coach Andy Reid and trainer Rick Burkholder will address the situation at a press conference.

Berry was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in December of 2014. He immediately started treatments, and he concluded the process in June.

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Brady offered to help NFL gather missing text messages

Phone Getty Images

If nothing else, the NFL can (when it wants to) master the art of public relations. Sure, the league screwed the pooch in the Ray Rice debacle last year, failing to realize that a video existed and that it would inevitably be leaked. But while the #DeflateGate episode has featured many very real flaws regarding the substance of the case, the league has done a great job of getting its messages out in a strong, clear way.

It started, of course, with the mistaken air pressure information from the initial letter to the Patriots, in which league executive Dave Gardi told the team that one of the footballs measured at 10.1 PSI — even though none of them were that low. It quickly continued with the leak of blatantly false information to ESPN that 11 of the 12 Patriots footballs were a full two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum. This cemented the notion that someone deflated the footballs, leaving only two questions: (1) who did it?; and (2) who knew about it?

Months later, it became clear that the information was incorrect. But the damage already had been done, with a curiosity instantly morphing into a multi-million-dollar investigation and the Patriots thrown against the ropes from the outset of the fight.

The P.R. mastery continued with the release of the Ted Wells report, which created the initial widespread impression that the Patriots cheated, and that quarterback Tom Brady knew about it. By the time those in the media inclined to digest the 243-page opus began to notice the warts, the narrative had been locked in by those who admittedly didn’t bother to roll up their sleeves and start reading.

The coup de grâce came Tuesday morning, when the league leaked to ESPN that “Brady destroyed his cell phone,” locking in the notion that something sinister — and irreparable — had occurred. The press release announcing the decision likewise focused on the destruction of the cell phone, raising eyebrows from sea to shining sea and reinforcing for many the idea that Brady had something to hide, and that he tried to hide it.

But like the much longer Wells report, closer inspection of the Goodell decision undermines the primary conclusion. And, as usual, the Achilles heel can be found in a footnote.

Specifically, it can be found at footnote 11 on page 12: “After the hearing and after the submission of post-hearing briefs, Mr. Brady’s certified agents offered to provide a spreadsheet that would identify all of the individuals with whom Mr. Brady had exchanged text messages during [the relevant time] period; the agents suggested that the League could contact those individuals and request production of any relevant text messages that they retained. Aside from the fact that, under Article 46, Section 2(f) of the CBA, such information could and should have been provided long before the hearing, the approach suggested in the agents’ letter — which would require tracking down numerous individuals and seeking consent from each to retrieve from their cellphones detailed information about their text message communications during the relevant period — is simply not practical.”

In English, here’s what the footnote means: Although the text messages couldn’t be retrieved directly from Brady’s phone, his agents provided all of the phone numbers with which Brady exchanged text messages. His agents also said that the league could attempt to get the actual text messages from the phones of the people with whom Brady communicated, but the league refused to attempt to try, claiming that it would be too hard to track down the various people and to persuade them to cooperate.

How hard would it be? Goodell’s ruling points out that “nearly 10,000 text messages” were exchanged on Brady’s phone in a four-month period, but Goodell’s ruling doesn’t provide the total volume of numbers that sent text messages to or received text messages from Brady’s “destroyed” phone. At an average of 2,500 text messages sent and received per month, which works out to an average of 83 sent and received per day (with some people surely sending and receiving a lot of short messages to and from Brady), how many people was he actually communicating with?

More importantly, how many of those people are Patriots employees, how many are family members, how many are friends, how many are people who would have no reason to be saying anything to or hearing anything from Brady about this specific case?

“I very much look forward to hearing from Mr. Brady and to considering any new information or evidence that he may bring to my attention,” Goodell said last month. And so Brady admits that he has a habit of dismantling his phone when he buys a new one, he provides the full list of phone numbers with which the dismantled phone communicated, and Goodell nevertheless refuses to try to identify the persons with whom Brady exchanged messages or to obtain the actual content of them, despite the commitment to “considering any new information or evidence.”

The league arguably opted not to track down the text messages or to match them up with text messages that the league already harvested from other phones, like the one used by John Jastremski, because the league already had the silver bullet it needed to win convincingly in the court of public opinion.

Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone. 

It was expertly leaked to ESPN by the same league office that had expertly leaked the 11-of-12 footballs falsehood to ESPN.

Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone.

It’s a theme that will be adhered to even though Brady made available the phone numbers necessary to reconstructing the contents of the messages.

Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone.

The details don’t matter once the message takes root. For #DeflateGate, a couple of giant oaks are growing at the NFL’s equivalent of Toomer’s Corner. The first one? 11 of 12 footballs were two pounds under the minimum PSI.

The second?

Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone.

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NFL offered Brady “at least 50 percent” reduction in exchange for admission of guilt

MakeADeal

Before Roger Goodell the Arbitrator upheld Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s four game suspension, Roger Goodell the Commissioner offered to make a deal with Brady.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL was willing to drop the suspension by “at least 50 percent” if Brady: (1) admitted to having knowledge of whatever John Jastremski and Jim McNally were doing to the footballs; (2) admitted to failing to cooperate with the Ted Wells investigation; and (3) apologized.

It’s believed that Brady’s suspension would have been dropped at least to two games, with the possibility of dropping it to one if he were sufficiently persuasive and profuse in his acceptance of guilt.

Although Goodell has ruled, settlement talks can continue because the litigation is just getting started. And if Brady were inclined to cry “uncle,” he could get the suspension reduced by two (or maybe three) games.

Unless the federal judge who ultimately handles the case tells Brady that he’ll definitely lose in court if he doesn’t take the deal, Brady likely won’t be settling. Even then, he may prefer not accepting responsibility and sitting out four games to confessing and cutting it in half.

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NFLPA calls Brady decision “outrageous”

outrageous

In response to the decision upholding his four-game suspension, Tom Brady has spoken. Through his agent.

Brady also has spoken, sort of, through his union.

“The Commissioner’s ruling today did nothing to address the legal deficiencies of due process,” the NFL Players Association said in a statement. “The NFL remains stuck with the following facts.”

The statement then lists the following facts, with bullet points: (1) the NFL “had no policy that applied to players”; (2) the NFL “provided no notice of any such policy or potential discipline to players”; (3) the NFL “resorted to a nebulous standard of ‘general awareness’ to predicate a legally unjustified punishment; (4) the NFL “had no procedures in place until two days ago to test air pressure in footballs”; and (5) the NFL “violated the plain meaning” of the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

“The fact that the NFL would resort to basing a suspension on a smoke screen of irrelevant text messages instead of admitting that they have all of the phone records they asked for is a new low, even for them, but it does nothing to correct their errors,” the statement asserts. “The NFLPA will appeal this outrageous decision on behalf of Tom Brady.”

The points raised in the statement surely will be reflected in the forthcoming legal documents from the NFLPA, which surely will not focus on Brady’s admission that he destroyed his cell phone on the same day he was due to meet with Ted Wells but on the overall flaws in the process.

But here’s the thing. If those are the arguments the NFLPA had previously planned to make on Brady’s behalf, why did he even testify at the appeal hearing? The points raised above could have been established via stipulation or other evidence. Having Brady admit that he destroyed the phone interjected an issue that will hamper Brady in the court of public opinion — and that could prompt a judge to conclude at a visceral level that justice requires upholding the suspension.

Although the destruction of the phone may not be relevant to any of the issues raised in the litigation challenging the suspension, skilled judges can find a way to get to whichever conclusion they believe is justified, even if the motivation to arrive at that destination comes from facts technically irrelevant to the specific issues presented in a given case.

In other words, if the presiding judge (whoever it ends up being) believes Brady’s hands are dirty, the judge will likely be able to find a way to rule accordingly, even if the written decision never mentions the destruction of the cell phone.

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Tom Brady’s agent calls NFL appeal process “a sham”

Tom Brady Says He Didn't Alter Footballs In Colts Game Getty Images

After NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld Tom Brady’s four-game suspension, Brady’s agent ripped the decision.

In a statement distributed this afternoon, agent Don Yee called the league’s appeals process “a sham” and insisted that Brady has done nothing wrong in Deflategate.

“The Commissioner’s decision is deeply disappointing, but not surprising because the appeal process was thoroughly lacking in procedural fairness,” Yee said. “Most importantly, neither Tom nor the Patriots did anything wrong. And the NFL has no evidence that anything inappropriate occurred.

“The appeal process was a sham, resulting in the Commissioner rubber-stamping his own decision. For example, the Wells investigative team was given over 100 days to conduct its investigation. Just days prior to the appeal hearing, we were notified that we would only have four hours to present a defense; therefore, we didn’t have enough time to examine important witnesses. Likewise, it was represented to the public that the Wells team was ‘independent’; however, when we requested documents from Wells, our request was rejected on the basis of privilege. We therefore had no idea as to what Wells found from other witnesses, nor did we know what those other witnesses said.

“These are just two examples of how the Commissioner failed to ensure a fair process.

“Additionally, the science in the Wells Report was junk. It has been thoroughly discredited by independent third parties.

“Finally, as to the issue of cooperation, we presented the Commissioner with an unprecedented amount of electronic data, all of which is incontrovertible. I do not think that any private citizen would have agreed to provide anyone with the amount of information that Tom was willing to reveal to the Commissioner. Tom was completely transparent. All of the electronic information was ignored; we don’t know why. The extent to which Tom opened up his private life to the Commissioner will become clear in the coming days.

The Commissioner’s decision and discipline has no precedent in all of NFL history. His decision alters the competitive balance of the upcoming season. The decision is wrong and has no basis, and it diminishes the integrity of the game.”

Although Yee’s statement doesn’t say so, Brady is expected to take the NFL to court in an effort to have the suspension overturned.

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Report: Brady authorizes NFLPA to go to federal court

tombrady AP

The NFL moved first, but, as expected, it looks like they’ll have company in going to federal court in the wake of Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to uphold Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s suspension.

Jim Trotter of ESPN reports that Brady has authorized the NFLPA to go to federal court in an attempt to overturn the suspension.

There aren’t any other details about the filing, including whether or not the union will seek an injunction that would allow Brady to play while the case is being heard. If Brady does get an injunction and ultimately loses the case, he would have to serve the suspension later in the season or even in the playoffs should the Patriots advance that far this season. If he doesn’t go for the injunction, he’d serve the suspension while trying to recoup the salary he’d lose while out for four games.

With the NFL filing in Manhattan, we’ll also be keeping an eye out for where the NFLPA files their action. Minnesota has been the preferred location because Judge David Doty’s rulings have been favorable in the past and the NFL’s desire to avoid that venue will likely add to the legal proceedings that will unfold in the coming weeks and months.

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NFL goes forum-shopping with pre-emptive lawsuit

Forum Getty Images

At some point over the past few weeks, I considered the possibility that the courtroom portion of the Tom Brady saga could be initiated not by the NFL Players Association but by the NFL. I made a mental note of it, vowed to write about that possibility, and then forgot to do it.

The reminder came today, via the report from Scott Soshnick of Bloomberg that the NFL has filed a pre-emptive lawsuit in federal court in Manhattan, seeking affirmation of the outcome of the Brady appeal.

Although I’ve yet to see the documents (the ask has been made), I’m certain that the NFL filed a case seeking what’s known as a “declaratory judgment” under the Federal Arbitration Act, explaining that a controversy clearly exists on the viability of Goodell’s final ruling in the Brady appeal and asking the court to determine the parties’ legal rights.

It’s not entirely uncommon, but it’s a very aggressive maneuver. As a practical matter, it potentially short-circuits the efforts of the NFLPA and Brady to file in Minnesota (with Judge David Doty presiding) or Massachusetts (with Judge Pats Fan presiding), where the ruling likely would be more favorable to Brady.

Whether through pre-emptive lawsuits or otherwise, forum shopping happens all the time in the legal profession. Part of securing the best outcome for a client is picking the best court for attempting to secure that outcome.

Still, there’s something that feels a bit unseemly about the NFL’s effort, creating a clear sense of coordination between Goodell the supposedly independent arbitrator and Goodell the chief executive at 345 Park Avenue. The ruling, which is required to be made “as soon as practicable” by Goodell the arbitrator undoubtedly was delayed long enough for Goodell the executive to ensure that his lawyers would be able to file immediately a lawsuit calling “shotgun” on the resolution of the legal rights.

The question now becomes whether the NFLPA will proceed with its own lawsuit, and if so whether one of the two judges will defer to the other one.

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Brady makes bad situation worse by admitting to destroying phone

CellPhone

In his effort to make a bad situation better, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had somehow made it worse.

The 20-page, single-spaced ruling from Commissioner Roger Goodell explains that, in materials submitted by Brady only days before the June 23 hearing, Brady admitted that he destroyed the cell phone that would have contained text messages sent and received during the time period most relevant to the #DeflateGate controversy.

Although characterized as Brady’s habit when purchasing a new cell phone, Goodell’s ruling explains that Brady knew that Ted Wells and company wanted to examine the phone that was coincidentally destroyed and replaced on March 6, the same day that Brady met with Wells. Brady, per Goodell, never suggested that the cell phone had been (or would be) destroyed during that meeting.

It’s a very bad look for Brady, and it’s a highly questionable tactic to affirmatively admit that the phone was destroyed in materials submitted to Goodell in connection with the appeal. As a result, Brady’s receipt of bad advice or his deliberate decision to ignore good advice has now extended from the decision not to accept the invitation to allow lawyer/agent Don Yee to personally review the text messages from the phone to the decision to admit that the cell phone was destroyed.

What benefit does Brady derive from disclosing that in the appeal? Even if it’s his habit to get rid of the phone and the data card within it whenever getting a new phone, that habit must yield to an ongoing investigation in which the contents of the phone and the data card have been deemed to be relevant. And so it’s reasonable to assume that Brady was trying to hide something.

Moreover, the decision to destroy the phone under those circumstances confirms the stereotypical “I do what I want” attitude that a multi-million-dollar quarterback with a supermodel wife and a house with a moat would be expected to project. The decision to admit the destruction of the phone in paperwork aimed at contesting the suspension suggests that Brady was represented by the law firm of Moe, Larry, and Shemp.

Apart from the relevance that the destroyed cell phone may or may not have to the looming legal challenge, this news turns the tables dramatically in the court of public opinion. With nothing in Goodell’s 20-page ruling hinting at the same kind of flaws that were lurking in the 243-page Ted Wells report, it’s going to be very difficult for the #FreeBrady crowd to find a cob of corn into which they can sink their teeth.

But if there’s another side to this story, Brady and company need to disclose it, quickly. Before they do, they need to be certain that whatever is said will actually make this very bad situation better.

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Goodell cites destroying phone in upholding Tom Brady’s suspension

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In a not-at-all unexpected end (for now) to the #DeflateGate saga, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld his four-game suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady

In the league’s release on the matter, they stated that “important new information disclosed by Brady and his representatives” during his appeal hearing came into play.

“On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed,” the league statement read. “He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. ‎During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.”

As a result, Goodell did not shorten his initial punishment, which will now certainly be headed to court.

“The commissioner found that Brady’s deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence 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 underlying scheme to alter the footballs.”

Let the games begin.

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Roger Goodell upholds Tom Brady’s four-game suspension

2013 Carnegie Hall Medal Of Excellence Gala Getty Images

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld the four-game suspension of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady over Deflategate.

In a ruling announced today, the league said Goodell has denied Brady’s appeal.

“NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld today the four-game suspension imposed on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on May 11. Brady’s appeal ‎from that discipline was heard for more than ten hours on June 23,” the league’s statement said.

“In the opinion informing Brady that his appeal had been denied, Commissioner Goodell emphasized important new information disclosed by Brady and his representatives in connection with the hearing.

“On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. ‎During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.

“Based on the Wells Report and the evidence presented at the hearing, Commissioner Goodell concluded in his decision that Brady was aware of, and took steps to support‎, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL’s Official Playing Rules. The commissioner found that Brady’s deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence 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 underlying scheme to alter the footballs.”

For Brady, the next step is either to accept Goodell’s ruling or to take the NFL to court. A lawsuit appears likely.

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Todd Gurley passes physical, will begin Rams camp on active roster

gurley Getty Images

The Rams were prepared to let rookie running back Todd Gurley start training camp on the non-football injury list if need be.

Apparently, there will be no need.

According to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Gurley passed his conditioning test Tuesday — “impressively” — and will begin camp on the active roster.

As recently as last week, there were reports that the Rams were content to ease Gurley into things after he tore his ACL last November, which allowed them to get him with the 10th pick in the draft. After all, they have a deep running back group (Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham and Isaiah Pead), so it’s not as if they need him immediately.

If he’s back to the form he showed at Georgia so soon, and is truly ready to go, it justifies their willingness to make the bold call to choose him so high.

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35 days later, no Tom Brady ruling

Goodell Getty Images

As the Greg Hardy appeal lingered without resolution, many assumed the same thing wouldn’t happen in the Tom Brady case, given it’s much higher profile

A full five weeks since the hearing, there’s still no ruling on the question of whether Commissioner Roger Goodell will uphold, modify, or scuttle the four-game suspension he previously approved.

Last week, Goodell insisted that there’s no “timeline” for a decision. Technically correct because there’s no specific date by which a ruling is required, the Collective Bargaining Agreement nevertheless requires a ruling “as soon as practicable,” fancy lawyer talk for “as soon as possible.”

It was possible for the league to digest the convoluted 243-page report from Ted Wells and issue a four-game suspension to Brady in only five days. Why would it take seven times that amount for Goodell to review work he already has approved?

Some believe the delay is aimed at squeezing Brady into a settlement that perhaps would entail a shorter suspension. Some believe the delay is intended to keep Brady and the NFLPA from having enough time to challenge the case in court. Some believe the delay results from the fact that Goodell and the league office simply don’t know what to do.

Despite the absence of a specific timeline in the CBA, Goodell surely will issue a ruling by Labor Day, given that the Patriots are due to host the Steelers three days later in the regular-season opener. It would only be fair to issue a ruling before camp opens, so that the Patriots can properly divvy up reps in advance of Week One.

Regardless, this shouldn’t have taken 35 days and counting for a ruling to emerge. Whatever the other reason(s) for the delay, it’s becoming more and more clear that this exercise is about more than simply trying to engage in a second look at a decision to which Goodell previously gave the green light.

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