At first, we thought Tom Brady simply didn’t want to turn his cell phone over to Ted Wells. As it turns out, Brady allegedly destroyed it.
That’s not a good look in the court of public opinion, but even if Brady didn’t destroy the phone, there was no way he was giving it to Wells.
“The union doesn’t want to create precedence here that could be turned around and used against them afterwards,” CBS legal analyst Jack Ford said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “As you know, this is a strange type of investigation. It’s not what we’ve seen in a criminal case. The NFL doesn’t have subpoena powers. There’s nothing even truly that compels a player to participate in this. The player can say, ‘Look, you want to come after me? Sure, go ahead. See if you can prove it. But you know what? I’m just not playing the game. I’m not going to be a part of it.’
“If I’m a union attorney,” Ford continued, “I’m saying, ‘Guys, we don’t want to create something that’s going to come back and bite us later, so no, you shouldn’t have to turn over (your phone). There’s no rule that says you have to turn over. We haven’t negotiated it in our collective bargaining agreement, so you don’t have to turn over those types of personal things.’ And I’m sure the union attorney said, ‘Can you guys 100 percent certain guarantee us that nothing from his cell phone leaks out. Well, of course they can’t. Somebody in the office is going to say, You know how much money TMZ is going to pay me if I can get my hands on Tom Brady’s photos?’
“So I would have a real concern if I’m Tom Brady and if I’m his lawyer and for other reasons if I’m the union lawyer. I’m just not so sure I’m saying, ‘Look, we’ll answer some questions, we’ll help you along here, but you don’t get to dive into everything this man has in his personal life.’”
Brady took to social media on Wednesday to profess his innocence and blast the NFL’s decision to uphold his four-game suspension. Robert Kraft, meanwhile, issued a strong statement supporting Brady and pointed out that many NFL punishments get reduced on appeal – even when there is hard evidence. If that happens in other cases, Kraft argued, why didn’t it happen in this one, especially when all the evidence is circumstantial?
That argument, however, is not a legal one.
“It’s what you might refer to as a wink-wink argument, but it’s not a legal argument because every case is different,” Ford said. “You can’t say, ‘Well, because you cut Le’Veon Bell’s (suspension), Brady’s should be cut also.’ And here’s the other thing: I don’t think Tom Brady would have agreed to anything. I think if they cut him to two games, you’d still see them running to the federal court, which I anticipate they’re going to do anyway. I think if they cut him to one game, he probably would have said, ‘I’m not taking this.’ Because if he accepts it, he’s basically saying, ‘Okay, I did something wrong here. I’ll take this and move on.’ He could dress it up a little differently, saying, ‘I’m going to take one for the team. I didn’t do anything wrong, but I’ll take the one-game suspension so we can have some certainty and we can move forward.’ But that’s not going to be his option.”