As reaction rolls in regarding the NFL’s decision to uphold Tom Brady’s four-game suspension for his involvement in Deflategate, the question has to be asked: why in the world did Brady destroy his cell phone before meeting with Ted Wells?
“Well, he destroyed his phone because he understood there were any number of texts he sent to (Jim) McNally and (John) Jastremski, and he understood those were incriminating and inculpatory,” Boston trial attorney and legal analyst Alan Fanger said on CBS Sports Radio’s The DA Show. “He probably made a decision on the spur of the moment when he was racked by emotion and not thinking straight about it, and what he should have done is taken a chill pill and called his lawyer and gotten some really sound advice, which would have been, ‘Look, set aside the phone, and we will negotiate a deal with Wells where we only have to produce the paper versions of the texts.’ It turns out all along that what we had assumed to be true was not true, and I think that played a major role in Goodell’s decision to uphold Troy Vincent’s suspension of several months ago.”
But wait, what did we assume to be true that was not true?
“Well, we assumed that the explanation for not giving up the phone was that he had the phone but he just didn’t want to turn over the phone (with all its texts and voicemails),” Fanger said. “Now we know that just wasn’t true. He had destroyed the phone before he went to the hearing. It puts a different twist on it. Now Brady looks like somebody who destroyed evidence, and that puts him in a different light – not only in the court of public opinion, but also in Roger Goodell’s eyes and probably in the eyes of a federal district judge who’s going to consider this appeal.
“I think Ted Wells had a good point and Goodell now has a good point when they say that the lack of access to the texts actually means something,” Fanger continued. “While we know that there were texts that were available to the league going between Jastremski and McNally, that loop was not closed with Brady. So we don’t know what Brady necessarily had to say in texts that he sent to either one of them. So that was obviously of concern for the league.”
And now Brady looks even worse.
“The reason that was offered up by Brady’s attorney – which was we don’t want to turn over the phone because it contains this large volume of stuff – turns out to be really a ruse,” Fanger said. “What he had not disclosed was that he had actually gotten rid of the phone. I think this is one of those situations where if you don’t disclose it upfront and they find out about it later, the transgression becomes magnified 10 times over. Because then it’s almost as if this is an exclamation point on someone like Brady saying, ‘Screw you. I’m not going to provide the phone because you’re not entitled to anything on it,’ as if that’s going to be of some benefit to him.
“What I don’t understand is, he’s an educated guy,” Fanger continued. “He went to the same undergraduate school that I went to, and for him to think that he was actually going to benefit by tossing his phone is just absurd. In the end, the NFL has millions of dollars to invest in this kind of investigation. You’ve got to know when the league is firing on all cylinders and wants your head, the last thing you want to do is conceal or destroy evidence.”