Patriots quarterback Tom Brady denied tampering with footballs before the AFC Championship Game in his nearly 10-hour appeal with commissioner Roger Goodell on June 23. The testimony was part of a 457-page transcript released Tuesday as part of a lawsuit filed on his behalf to have his four-game suspension lifted.
Brady also denied discussing air pressure levels with two Patriots equipment staffers and said he never asked anyone with the team to tamper with the footballs in any way.
League-appointed attorney Ted Wells, whose report concluded Brady had a general awareness that the Patriots used deflated footballs in their 45-7 win over the Colts, said he did not specifically tell Brady he might face punishment for not providing investigators with his cell phone.
The transcript of the appeal was released as a result of a ruling by U.S. District Judge Richard Berman to make all relevant testimony in the case publicly available. Berman has told the NFL and Brady to try and work out a settlement, and he told both sides to appear in court in Manhattan on Aug. 12 to try and finalize a settlement.
Brady has indicated he does not want to settle unless his suspension is eliminated.
The NFL cited Brady's destruction of his cell phone as a big reason for his suspension, and Wells testified that Brady lost credibility by not allowing investigators to see potentially relevant communications.
"In my almost 40 years of practice, I think that was one of the most ill-advised decisions I have ever seen because it hurt how I viewed his credibility,'' Wells testified.
Brady didn't tell the league he had ordered that his cell phone be destroyed until five days before his appeal. Wells also said, however, he never told Brady he faced punishment for not giving up his cell phone.
"I did not not say anything like that,'' Wells said.
In addition to suspending Brady for four games, the NFL also fined the Patriots $1 million and took away a first-round draft pick in 2016 and a fourth-rounder in 2017. Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in May that the team would not appeal the fines, but he said last week after Goodell upheld the four-game suspension that the team would have taken action had the Patriots known Brady's appeal would have been denied.
Brady's attorneys have charged that Goodell cannot be independent enough to properly rule on Brady's appeal because it is in his interests to uphold the findings of the Wells report.