Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his alleged involvement in Deflategate was reinstated Monday after the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in the NFL’s favor.
Judges Barrington Parker and Denny Chin thoroughly explained in their court opinion why they sided with the league, discussing several issues related to the case, including Brady’s decision to destroy his personal cell phone the day he was to be interviewed by Ted Wells’ investigative team.
Brady testified last June that he was following his ordinary practice in destroying an old cell phone to protect his personal privacy, but the incident left many outsiders scratching their heads. And since the cell phone issue was discussed at length during oral arguments in early March, Judges Parker and Chin used their discretion and addressed it in the ruling handed down Monday.
“Having been given clear notice that his cooperation with the investigation was a subject of significant interest, we have difficulty believing that either Brady or the (NFL Players) Association would have been surprised that the destruction of the cell phone was of importance to the Commissioner,” the ruling says.
That passage from the majority opinion obviously doesn’t paint Brady’s cell phone destruction in a positive light. And neither does the following from page 25 of the ruling.
“Finally, any reasonable litigant would understand that the destruction of evidence, revealed just days before the start of arbitration proceedings, would be an important issue,” it reads. “It is well established that the law permits a trier of fact to infer that a party who deliberately destroys relevant evidence the party had an obligation to produce did so in order to conceal damaging information from the adjudicator.”
Basically, the court is OK with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell using the destroyed cell phone as further support for his determination that Brady failed to cooperate with the investigation.
Thumbnail photo via Mitch Stringer/USA TODAY Sports Images