On the same day that the NFLPA fired back at the NFL in court, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s agent went on the offensive, too.
Don Yee, who made some questionable arguments in the aftermath of the publication of the Ted Wells report, shared plenty of information in a discussion with Tom Curran of CSNNE.com.
“They shifted from PSI to the new shiny object, the cell phone,” Yee said of the ruling upholding the four-game suspension. “We expected this. Because this was the easy way to pivot off the junk science and get off the PSI issue. And we knew that from a newsworthiness standpoint, the general public might be easily fooled. But in the coming days — just like the Wells Report being picked apart after its issuance — the same thing happens with this.”
If Yee knew that the cell phone would become a red herring, it would have been smarter for Yee to get ahead of the notion that “Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone” before the NFL could unleash that mantra in masterful fashion, winning the P.R. battle with a one-punch knockout.
Then again, maybe Yee didn’t take the lead on the topic because he possibly would have been leading with his chin. Consider the explanation from Yee to Curran about what happened with the phone.
“What happened is this,” Yee said. “After Goodell decided to take the appeal and publicly asked for new information, we were under the authority of the actual Commissioner, not private investigators with dubious authority. We decided to provide him with the new information. This was in June. The information that Wells requested covered September 2014 to February 28, 2015. The first thing we did in June was say, ‘Holy cow, do we have a cell phone left from that time period?’ because Tom regularly cycles through phones. We happened to find one and we tested that phone and found it covered the period October through November.
“In a letter to Goodell, we told him that we don’t have any other phones that cover November through March. We believe Tom may have cycled through a phone. We were the ones that disclosed this issue. Meaning that if Tom Brady was trying to hide something, why would we voluntarily disclose that fact? . . .
“It wasn’t until February 28 that Ted Wells’ team sent us an e-mail asking for contents off Tom’s phone. They never asked for the actual device. Ted Wells, in his May 12 press conference actually said that — he emphasized that. They didn’t want the actual device. On March 2, we wrote back to Ted Wells and told him we considered his request for information off the phone and we declined his request. On March 3, they said they hoped we would reconsider. They knew going into the March 6 hearing that they were not going to get the actual device. They knew that.”
So, from Yee’s perspective, it doesn’t matter what Brady did with the phone after March 3, because he wasn’t giving it to Wells as part of the investigation.
“Why did Tom cycle through a phone that week?” Yee said. “It turns out he just got back to the country after taking a trip. Why did he cycle through the phone that week? The iPhone 6 was coming out. [Brady] happened to want a new phone and knew Ted Wells’ team didn’t want the actual device, they only wanted information from the device.”
That’s where Yee’s explanation gets a little wobbly. For starters, the iPhone six came out months before March 2015. (In fairness, it came out in September, so Brady perhaps decided to wait until after the season to get one.) Also, if Wells wanted not the device but the information from it, Brady should have retained the data card.
Yee explained that Brady nevertheless equipped Goodell with the information necessary to reconstruct the text messages.
“We compiled all of Tom’s personal cell phone billing records from his vendor from September through the end of February 2015,” Yee said. “The records detail every incoming and outgoing phone call. Every incoming and outgoing text. We submitted that to the Commissioner. They would then be able to determine were there any other communications with Patriots personnel that were not outlined in the Wells Report. Everything matched up perfectly with the Wells Report with the exception of three texts between Tom and [John] Jastrzemski on February 7, and that was only because Wells had given Jastrzemski’s phone back [on] February 7. As far as any texts prior to the AFC Championship Game, where any alleged scheming would have taken place, Ted Wells would have had any communications between Tom, Jastrzemski and [Jim] McNally. This personal phone billing record compiled by an independent third party shows that he had no communications at all with McNally.
“In an effort to be even more transparent, we decided to offer to the Commissioner to disclose the identities of everyone that Tom communicated with. We said that some of these individuals are NFL-related personnel and that the Commissioner has the power to compel a search of their phone to see if they have texts remaining on their phone from Tom. The Commissioner’s own decision in footnote 11 acknowledges this and says they thought it was impractical to conduct this search. The amount of NFL-related personnel that the league needed to consult, if they so chose, was 28 people. Which is not very many people. And a number of those people they had information from already. Tom texted from December 24 to February 24 these NFL-related personnel. Ten teammates, two current coaches, five former teammates, one NFL Network personnel, five front-office personnel and five other Patriots employees. A number of them, the league had the authority to say, ‘Check your cell phone, we want any text exchanges between you and Tom Brady from that period.’ They chose not to. I don’t know why.”
The answer could be that accepting this offer would rob the NFL of the “Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone” silver bullet, which delivered on Tuesday a conclusive win in the court of public opinion.
But the inevitable pushback has commenced, and this red state/blue state issue will continue to polarize fans until it is finally resolved in court. And beyond.