David Haugh: With suspension upheld, Tom Brady’s arrogance should be deflated

Regarding the NFL commissioner, the Patriots quarterback and the cellphone connection to DeflateGate, Roger Goodell had only one question for Tom Brady.

Tom Brady's four-game suspension for his role in using underinflated footballs during the AFC championship game last season may take a swipe at his ego.

Regarding the NFL commissioner, the Patriots quarterback and the cellphone connection to DeflateGate, Roger Goodell had only one question for Tom Brady.

Can you hear me now?

Loudly and clearly, Goodell upheld Brady's four-game suspension Monday for violating the league's policy on the integrity of the game, releasing his decision in a 20-page document that included details about the quarterback destroying a cellphone full of key evidence. Having your cellphone destroyed in the midst of an investigation is the act of a guilty man, not an aw-shucks-I-have-nothing-to-hide golden boy Brady professed to be. Had the phone contained information that exonerated Brady, he would have protected it better than the Patriots offensive line protects him.

Not until June 18 — five days before hearing the appeal and four months after requesting all pertinent electronic information — did Goodell learn of Brady ordering the destruction of a cellphone he had used since early 2014, a period that included the AFC championship game and the probe that followed. During the life span of the phone, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, many of them believed to be with Patriots equipment managers, all of them irretrievable now with the device in tatters.

According to Goodell's ruling, finding out that Brady instructed an assistant to get rid of the phone on or about March 6, 2015 — the day Ted Wells interviewed him — represented the "most significant new information that emerged" during the appeal. In sticking to a four-game suspension, Goodell essentially viewed the cover-up worse than the crime and punished Brady for tampering with the truth more than footballs. For a guy so gifted at fooling NFL defenses, this was clumsy choreography.


Reports say Brady will appeal his case in federal court, perhaps seeking an injunction that would allow the quarterback to stay on the field as the process unfolds. It would serve Brady right if he gets an injunction, plays through it, loses the case in December and serves the four-game suspension during the final month of the season. Prepare for anything, Jimmy Garoppolo.

Brady must think America is stupid. He admits destroying the phone but insists that's what he typically does when receiving a new one. Funny, never noticed all the cellphone destruction kiosks in Boston. Surely, Brady wants us to believe choosing to destroy a cellphone containing sensitive text messages around the same day Wells interviewed him was a coincidence; like a tax cheat buying a shredder April 15. U believe this guy? LOL.

Arrogance blinded Brady into thinking he could get away with it, a reasonable assumption for a multimillionaire who has everything. Hubris impaired the quarterback's judgment the way so many defensive linemen couldn't. Had Brady simply cooperated more from the beginning, acknowledged doing something many quarterbacks do on game day, and accepted the need for Goodell to dole out discipline, he likely would have received a two-game suspension and moved onto the Patriots' next Super Bowl run.

Instead, after losing Tuesday's battle, Brady showed no signs of relinquishing New England's war with Goodell. It's his legacy and he can taint it however he wishes. But a quick recap of Brady's highlights since this controversy began: He vehemently denied deflating footballs, lied about details investigators uncovered and obstructed the investigation by destroying his phone. Come to think of it, Brady should feel fortunate that Goodell, upon appeal, didn't add two games. This isn't about the face of the NFL breaking rules. It's about making his own.

Meanwhile, Goodell must cope with looking like a commissioner who cares more about cheating than hitting women or driving drunk. Cowboys domestic abuser Greg Hardy had his 10-game suspension reduced to four games — the same length as Brady's. Through more reprehensible, Hardy's crime fell under the archaic, old NFL discipline protocol where domestic-violence offenders only drew a two-game suspension — one-fifth of Hardy's original penalty. Thank goodness Goodell finally toughened up there. Hardy already spent 15 games last season on the commissioner's exempt list. At least Goodell's past mistakes disciplining domestic-abusers coaxed him to adopt a zero-tolerance policy that, in theory, can rid the league of thugs like Hardy quicker.

As for Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell having his three-game suspension for marijuana possession and DUI last year reduced to two games, he did what Brady didn't: He apologized. A little contrition goes a long way in the league office. Bell will return Week 3, when Brady probably could have planned his 2015 debut if he had come up with a better game plan to beat Goodell. Instead, Brady destroying evidence supplied the most damning piece.

"All of this indisputably constitutes conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football," Goodell wrote.

As the NFL season kicked off with the opening of training camps, the defending Super Bowl champions suddenly faced new questions about the quarterback position. And those were the easy ones to answer around New England.

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