Tom Brady breaks silence on 'Deflategate' and has strong message for NFL
Tom Brady has broken his silence on his 'Deflategate' suspension and hit back at the NFL after it upheld his four-game ban for what the New England Patriots quarterback termed an "inconsequential issue".
The NFL announced on Tuesday that it stood by its decision to keep Brady out of the first four matches of the 2015 season after the Patriots' signal caller was found to be "at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities" relating to under-inflated balls in the AFC Championship Game against the Indianapolis Colts.
The four-time Super Bowl winner has disputed the findings of independent investigator Ted Wells' report, though, and will appeal through the NFL Players Association (NFLPA).
The 37-year-old reiterated his innocence with a lengthy Facebook post on Wednesday that criticised NFL commissioner Roger Goodell.
"I am very disappointed by the NFL's decision to uphold the four-game suspension against me," Brady wrote.
"I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organisation did either.
"Despite submitting to hours of testimony over the past six 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."
The furore surrounding one of the game's most decorated players dates back to the play-off clash with the Colts in January when the Patriots were accused of using deflated balls in cold conditions, a factor that is believed can make it easier for quarterbacks to operate.
New England went on to win the Super Bowl in Arizona. Wells' findings emerged in May.
Goodell heard Brady's appeal but elected to stick with the four-game ban, with information also emerging that the quarterback had destroyed his mobile phone prior to a March meeting with Wells.
Wells had been keen to access Brady's text messages, with much of his previous evidence based around text conversations between two former Patriots staff members, but the signal caller has attempted to clarify the "narrative surrounding my cellphone".
Brady added: "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."
New England kick off the new season as defending champions in six weeks' time but the saga engulfing their star player will rumble on as Brady is determined not to accept his discipline.
"There is no 'smoking gun' and this controversy is manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrongdoing," Brady added.
"I authorised 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 commissioner's authority, but he also has to respect the CBA (collective bargaining agreement) 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."