NEW YORK/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The National Football League players union on Tuesday made public a full transcript of star New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s June 23 appeal of his four-game “Deflategate” suspension before league Commissioner Roger Goodell.
The transcript, filed in Manhattan federal court as part of the union’s challenge to the suspension, revealed Brady’s testimony defending his alleged role in a scheme to deflate footballs before the Patriots’ 45-7 playoff win in January over the Indianapolis Colts.
It also shed light on Brady’s decision to destroy his cell phone rather than turn it over to NFL investigators, who were seeking potentially incriminating text messages.
Brady said he sometimes has an assistant destroy old phones to ensure that personal information, such as family photos, remains confidential.
“I have always told the guy who swaps them out for me, make sure you get rid of the phone,” he said, according to the transcript. “And what I mean is destroy the phone so that no one can ever, you know, reset it or do something where I feel like the information is available to anybody.”
In upholding the suspension, Goodell cited in part Brady’s decision to get rid of the phone on the same day he was interviewed by Ted Wells, a prominent attorney hired by the NFL to probe the scandal.
During the 10-hour hearing, Brady said no one told him that failing to hand over evidence would result in discipline.
The two sides are expected to appear in court on Aug. 12 before U.S. District Judge Richard Berman. Both the NFL and the union have asked Berman to decide whether to uphold the suspension by Sept. 4, six days before the season begins.
The union claims Goodell was not an impartial arbiter because he had praised Wells’ work before the appeal, while the league has argued that Goodell was authorized to conduct the hearing under its labor agreement.
In his report, Wells faulted two Patriots employees but concluded that Brady was “generally aware” of the plan to deflate footballs, which can make them easier to grip.
At the hearing, Brady said, “I never in the history of my career, I never thought about the inflation level of a ball,” according to the transcript.
Goodell also fined the Patriots $1 million and forfeited two of the team’s future draft picks.
The Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28-24 in the Super Bowl, giving Brady his fourth championship and cementing his place as one of the greatest players in NFL history.
Reporting by Joseph Ax in New York and Steve Ginsburg in Washington; Additional reporting by Nate Raymond and Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Andrew Hay