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Did the NFL Want Tom Brady's Phone Or Not?

Tom Brady

Tom Brady

The only new detail to emerge from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's ruling on Tom Brady's Deflategate appeal was that Brady had "destroyed" his phone prior to meeting with investigator Ted Wells in early March. This was the item that cemented Goodell's decision to uphold Brady's four-game suspension, and the headline that was the final nail in Brady's coffin in the court of public opinion.

Related: Tom Brady's Suspension Upheld, What Now for the Patriots QB?

However, in May, after the release of the Wells Report, Ted Wells had a conference call with the media to defend his work, and he made an interesting comment on Brady's phone.

And I want to be crystal clear. I told Mr. Brady and his agents, I was willing not to take possession of the phone. I said, "I don't want to see any private information." I said, "Keep the phone. You and the agent, Mr. Yee, you can look at the phone. You give me documents that are responsive to this investigation and I will take your word that you have given me what's responsive."

So which is it? The lead investigator makes it "crystal clear" he didn't need Brady's phone, but now the NFL is burying Brady for destroying it. If Brady had destroyed his phone prior to meeting with Wells, why wasn't that in his initial report?

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Brady's agent Don Yee spoke out on Wednesday after the appeal ruling, detailing how they were willing to reveal the identities of everyone in Brady's phone, provide the commissioner with all of Brady's cell phone records and even contacted AT&T's general counsel to see if the lost text messages were recoverable. 

Does that sound like someone with something to hide?

There's no mention of any cooperation from Brady in the appeal ruling, as Goodell maintained Brady "declined to provide investigators with access to highly relevant electronic information, such as emails and texts."

This figures to be one of the key points of contention in any looming trial, but what is clear is that Wells did not feel Brady handing over his phone was vital to his investigation.

But when the NFL discovered Brady no longer had that phone, it became the key piece of circumstantial evidence used to maintain his punishment.

— Written by Mike Dussault, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and writer/editor of (@PatsPropaganda), a comprehensive blog covering the New England Patriots.