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Monday 5 December 2016

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady's deflategate four game ban upheld

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady walks to the sidelines after throwing an interception in the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game in Glendale, Arizona, in this February 1, 2015 file photo
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady walks to the sidelines after throwing an interception in the first quarter against the Seattle Seahawks during the NFL Super Bowl XLIX football game in Glendale, Arizona, in this February 1, 2015 file photo

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has upheld Tom Brady's four-game suspension for the New England Patriots quarterback's role in the 'deflategate' scandal.

The four-time Super Bowl winner was handed the ban in May after independent investigator Ted Wells' report concluded he was "at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities" regarding his team's use of deflated game balls in last season's AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.

Brady appealed but Goodell on Tuesday announced Brady's ban had been upheld after further information which came to light during the appeal process had counted against the 37-year-old.

"NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld today the four-game suspension imposed on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on May 11. Brady's appeal from that discipline was heard for more than ten hours on June 23," an NFL statement said.

According to the statement, new information which came to light during the appeal process showed that Brady had ordered the destruction of his cell phone immediately prior to his meeting with Wells on March 6.

"He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone," the statement said. "During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device."

The statement concluded: "Based on the Wells Report and the evidence presented at the hearing, Commissioner Goodell concluded in his decision that Brady was aware of, and took steps to support, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL's Official Playing Rules.

"The commissioner found that Brady's deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs."

Deflated balls are considered to be easier to grip, throw and catch, particularly in cold conditions, although there is disagreement on how much of an advantage or disadvantage they can provide.

As well as Brady's ban, the Patriots were fined 1million US dollars and docked two draft picks including next year's first-round pick.

The Patriots, who won their fourth Super Bowl in February in Arizona, accepted their punishment but Brady's process could continue despite Tuesday's ruling.

The quarterback, regarded by many to be the greatest to have ever played the game, is said to be considering taking the case to court as he believes his legacy is on the line.

As it stands, he is due to miss the Patriots' games against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars and Dallas Cowboys this coming season.

The NFL Players Association issued a statement indicating its intention to appeal on Brady's behalf.

Complaining that the NFL's process included numerous legal deficiencies and violated the collective bargaining agreement, the statement added: "The fact that the NFL would resort to basing a suspension on a smoke screen of irrelevant text messages instead of admitting that they have all of the phone records they asked for is a new low, even for them, but it does nothing to correct their errors."

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