Brady's agent: NFL mischaracterized cell-phone issue


FOXBORO -- Don Yee, the agent for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady went on the record this afternoon with, calling out the National Football League for the way it characterized the phone the league said Brady destroyed. 

“They shifted from PSI to the new shiny object, the cell phone,” said Yee. “We expected this. Because this was the easy way to pivot off the junk science and get off the PSI issue. And we knew that from a newsworthiness standpoint, the general public might be easily fooled. But in the coming days -- just like the Wells Report being picked apart after its issuance -- the same thing happens with this.”

Speaking for more than 30 minutes, Yee detailed the decision-making process and attempts at transparency the Brady camp went through when the appeal landed on the desk of Roger Goodell and was out of the hands of Ted Wells.

“What happened is this,” Yee began. “After Goodell decided to take the appeal and publicly asked for new information, we were under the authority of the actual commissioner, not private investigators with dubious authority. We decided to provide him with the new information. This was in June. The information that Wells requested covered September 2014 to February 28, 2015. The first thing we did in June was say, ‘Holy cow, do we have a cell phone left from that time period?’ because Tom regularly cycles through phones. We happened to find one and we tested that phone and found it covered the period October through November.

“In a letter to Goodell, we told him that we don’t have any other phones that cover November through March. We believe Tom may have cycled through a phone. We were the ones that disclosed this issue. Meaning that if Tom Brady was trying to hide something, why would we voluntarily disclose that fact?

I asked Yee why Brady would discard or recycle a phone when he knew Wells was seeking the phone in his investigation.

“It wasn’t until February 28 that Ted Wells’ team sent us an e-mail asking for contents off Tom’s phone,” said Yee. “They never asked for the actual device. Ted Wells, in his May 12 press conference actually said that -- he emphasized that. They didn’t want the actual device. On March 2, we wrote back to Ted Wells and told him we considered his request for information off the phone and we declined his request. On March 3, they said they hoped we would reconsider. They knew going into the March 6 hearing that they were not going to get the actual device. They knew that.

“Why did Tom cycle through a phone that week?” Yee continued. “It turns out he just got back to the country after taking a trip. Why did he cycle through the phone that week? The iPhone 6 was coming out. [Brady] happened to want a new phone and knew Ted Wells’ team didn’t want the actual device, they only wanted information from the device.”

Yee then detailed the effort to gather the “additional information” Goodell sought during the appeal.

“We compiled all of Tom’s personal cell phone billing records from his vendor from September through the end of February 2015. The records detail every incoming and outgoing phone call. Every incoming and outgoing text,” Yee explains. “We submitted that to the commissioner. They would then be able to determine were there any other communications with Patriots personnel that were not outlined in the Wells Report. Everything matched up perfectly with the Wells Report with the exception of three texts between Tom and [John] Jastrzemski on February 7, and that was only because Wells had given Jastrzemski’s phone back [on] February 7. As far as any texts prior to the AFC Championship Game, where any alleged scheming would have taken place, Ted Wells would have had any communications between Tom, Jastrzemski and [Jim] McNally. This personal phone billing record compiled by an independent third party shows that he had no communications at all with McNally.

“In an effort to be even more transparent, we decided to offer to the commissioner to disclose the identities of everyone that Tom communicated with. We said that some of these individuals are NFL-related personnel and that the commissioner has the power to compel a search of their phone to see if they have texts remaining on their phone from Tom. The commissioner’s own decision in footnote 11 acknowledges this and says they thought it was impractical to conduct this search. The amount of NFL-related personnel that the league needed to consult, if they so chose, was 28 people. Which is not very many people. And a number of those people they had information from already. Tom texted from December 24 to February 24 these NFL-related personnel. Ten teammates, two current coaches, five former teammates, one NFL Network personnel, five front-office personnel and five other Patriots employees. A number of them, the league had the authority to say, ‘Check your cell phone, we want any text exchanges between you and Tom Brady from that period.’ They chose not to. I don’t know why.”

I asked Yee why those people would feel compelled to furnish information if Brady was known to have not done so. The switch from Wells as the investigator to Goodell as the one hearing the appeal prompted a greater interest in making sure everything was shared.

“Tom regularly deletes his texts,” said Yee. “It’s a privacy safeguard. E-mails and texts in case the phone is ever lost. But we felt, in our effort to try and give the information they wanted, ‘Well, perhaps other people kept text exchanges with Tom.’ I don’t think there’s anything more intimate than sharing your personal phone records as well as disclosing everyone you communicated with. If you had something to hide, why would you offer that?”

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