Within the NFL’s press release announce Tom Brady‘s suspension has been upheld, the NFL said Brady had his cell phone destroyed on or shortly before March 6, the day he met with Ted Wells.

Here is the statement from the NFL regarding the cell phone:

Within the NFL’s press release announce Tom Brady‘s suspension has been upheld, the NFL said Brady had his cell phone destroyed on or shortly before March 6, the day he met with Ted Wells.

Here is the statement from the NFL regarding the cell phone:

“On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. ‘During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.”

Note: There is a poll embedded within this post, please visit the site to participate in this post's poll.
Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The NFL announced Tuesday that Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension has been upheld.

The league issued the following statement:

The NFL announced Tuesday that Tom Brady‘s four-game suspension has been upheld.

The league issued the following statement:

“NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld today the four-game suspension imposed on New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on May 11. Brady’s appeal from that discipline was heard for more than ten hours on June 23. In the opinion informing Brady that his appeal had been denied, Commissioner Goodell emphasized important new information disclosed by Brady and his representatives in connection with the hearing.

“On or shortly before March 6, the day that Tom Brady met with independent investigator Ted Wells and his colleagues, Brady directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed. He did so even though he was aware that the investigators had requested access to text messages and other electronic information that had been stored on that phone. During the four months that the cell phone was in use, Brady had exchanged nearly 10,000 text messages, none of which can now be retrieved from that device. The destruction of the cell phone was not disclosed until June 18, almost four months after the investigators had first sought electronic information from Brady.

“Based on the Wells Report and the evidence presented at the hearing, Commissioner Goodell concluded in his decision that Brady was aware of, and took steps to support, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL’s Official Playing Rules. The commissioner found that Brady’s deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

ESPN personalty Stephen A. Smith joined Middays with MFB Tuesday to discuss his reporting on the latest with Tom Brady‘s appeal of his four-game suspension. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.

Stephen A. Smith

Stephen A. Smith

ESPN personalty Stephen A. Smith joined Middays with MFB Tuesday to discuss his reporting on the latest with Tom Brady‘s appeal of his four-game suspension. To hear the interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.

Smith reported the NFL is likely to uphold Brady’s four-game suspension and the announcement will take place within the next 24-48 hours. Smith said Brady will absolutely not accept the decision and ultimately take it to the courts.

“Absolutely not. I’m not hearing that he’s going to accept it at all,” Smith said. “[The NFL is] just confident that ultimately they will end up getting what they want, which is having Tom Brady serve a four-game suspension. And barring anything that happens to change matters within the next 24 to 48 hours, the position of the NFL is that they’re going to uphold his four-game suspension and they are incredibly confident he’s going to end up serving it.”

Smith also reported Brady destroyed his cell phone. He clarified what he had heard regarding that report.

“I don’t blame anybody for shaking their head,” he said. “I was shaking my head when a couple of my sources told me that. But that’s what they said. And that’s why I went on the air and said what I said today. You got Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen, those guys are intimately involved in covering the NFL and they do an exceptional job of doing so. … I heard what I heard and I made sure I called ESPN and said, ‘Look, this is what I’m hearing. This is what I am being told. And I was told this at 9:30 this morning.’ So I’m just sharing it with the public. That’s what they said about the suspension. They also said that they felt Tom Brady was uncooperative. They also said not only that they lean on what Ted Wells said, ‘We weren’t even looking at your cell phone, just show us text messages and emails pertinent to the Deflategate matter,’ and [Brady’s camp] refused, but they also said said they are of the belief that Tom Brady destroyed his cell phone.

“I’ll tell you something else too, one of the other things they talked about was the New England Patriots [as an organization]. They said that Robert Kraft obviously did what was in the best interest of the league because as an owner, you’ve got to do that. You sign on to be a part of the league. It’s one part of your business where you are competing against those owners on the field, but in that board room at those negotiating tables, you guys are teammates, you’re on the same side. There comes a point where you as an owner do what’s in the best interest of the league.

“It’s not in the best interest of the league if Bill Belichick ended up being suspended, it’s not in the best interest of the league if Bill Belichick ended up being banned. And what was alluded to me this morning yet again was when they talked about how he had the Spygate incident in 2007 and as a result of that, you couldn’t have anything [with] Bill Belichick because the language in the Spygate ruling called for banishment from the league, if indeed it was found something deceivingly similar to happen again with Bill Belichick. So it was in the best interest of Mr. Kraft and the New England Patriots to take the penalty handed down by Roger Goodell.”

Even with what he’s heard from the league, Smith doesn’t think Brady should be suspended the same amount of games as Greg Hardy (four games).

“For me personally, I’ve been on the record the second that Greg Hardy’s suspension was reduced from 10 games to four games, I said you cannot do that to Tom Brady. He does not deserve the same severity of a penalty as Greg Hardy. It’s two completely different things, but still domestic violence is domestic violence. It’s far more heinous. I don’t give a damn if Tom Brady was throwing nerf footballs. As far as I am concerned, he shellacked the Indianapolis Colts, he went in the Super Bowl and handled his business and deserves all the credit in the world for that.

“But, present and former NFL players seem to make a very, very big deal of it. They say the New England Patriots and inparticular in this situation Tom Brady tried to skirt the rules and as a result they should be held accountable for it. That’s their position. Me personally, I am of the belief that Tom Brady absolutely, positively cannot be given this same amount of a suspension as Greg Hardy. I think that is incredibly wrong and I think he’s been a wonderful ambassador to the game of football, which Roger Goodell himself has acknowledged in the past and to make sure he serves the same amount of games has Greg Hardy, to me, is criminal. It’s wrong and I don’t like it at all.

“But they seem bent on sending a message that that issue is completely separate and apart from this one. This is about the game and the integrity of the game and anyone who comprises that by gaining an unfair advantage has to be dealt with heavily, even if it has nothing to do with domestic violence and it ends up [being the same.]”

Justin Pallenik contributed to this report.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
How will Jerod Mayo bounce back this season? (Jerome Davis/Getty Images)

How will Jerod Mayo bounce back this season after being placed on season-ending injured reserve each of the last two seasons? (Jerome Davis/Getty Images)

As training camp approaches, we’€™ll offer a position-by-position breakdown of the 2015 Patriots. We started with the offensive side of the ball and now we’ve shifted to defense with the cornerbacks and safeties, now we take a look at the linebackers.

Depth chart (regular-season stats via Pro Football Reference): Jamie Collins (91 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions), Jerod Mayo (37 tackles, one sack), Dont’a Hightower (61 tackles, six sacks), Dane Fletcher (28 tackles), Darius Fleming (three tackles), Eric Martin (one tackle), Geneo Grissom (rookie), James Morris, Rufus Johnson, Jonathan Freeny (11 tackles, one sack.

THREE THINGS WE KNOW

1. One of the best young linebacker group in the league. Names such as Collins, Hightower and Mayo definitely are attention grabbers as the group has the potential to be one of the best linebacker cores in the entire NFL. Collins is entering his third season, Hightower his fourth and while Mayo is entering his eighth, he’s 29 years old and hasn’t played a full season since 2012. Provided the group stays healthy, which it has had trouble doing, there’s no doubt they will be considered one of the best in the league.

2. Jamie Collins is a freak. There isn’t a more athletic linebacker in the entire NFL. At 6-foot-3, 250 pounds, the Southern Mississippi product can do things not many can, both on the field and off. (Check out this video he posted to Instagram of him doing back flips this offseason.) He has the quickness of someone playing in the secondary, but the strength of a defensive lineman. At just 25 years old, Collins will be a special player to watch over the next several seasons.

3. More pressure on group this season. With the departures of Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington in the secondary, it seems like the Patriots will be putting more pressure on their front-seven than last year. Last season the secondary was able to take control of the opposition’s passing attack by shutting down wide receivers, but this year it might be a different story. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia may need to create some pressure on the quarterback with blitzing more than he’s done in the past and with the linebackers the Patriots have, it will be something to monitor.

THREE QUESTIONS

1. Does Dont’a Hightower play Week 1? The 25-year old had offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum, which he played most of last season with forcing him to miss four games. The Alabama product is expected to return to the field at some point during training camp, or even at the start, as he didn’t start on the PUP list, but there’s still some uncertainty of him being ready for the season opener against the Steelers. If he isn’t ready to go, it would open the door for a player like Fleming to make the final 53-man roster. Regardless of if he’s ready for the opener, it doesn’t appear like he will miss any significant time.

2. How does Jerod Mayo bounce back? For the second straight season, Mayo was only able to play in six games as he was placed on season-ending injured reserve each of the last two seasons. This past year the Tennessee product tore his patellar tendon. It will be interesting to see what kind of level Mayo plays at after playing in a combined 12 games each of the last two seasons. He’s exactly the type of player Bill Belchick loves — not necessarily a play-maker, but someone who is very smart and very consistent.

3. Will pass coverage be better? One of the biggest knocks over the years on the linebackers group has been the inability to defend the pass. Opponents have had a great deal of success with their running backs out of the backfield and their tight ends having big games. Some of this is because of the Patriots’ lack of speed at the position. Collins has been one of the better ones and the return of Fletcher could be a boost as well. But, with what will be a young secondary behind them, this will be an area where Belichick and Patricia will want to see some improvement.

By the numbers: Collins was the only guy in the league last year with at least four sacks, two interceptions and a blocked field goal attempt. (Bruce Irvin and Julius Peppers also had at least four sacks and two picks.)

Key new player: Fletcher. After playing his first three seasons in the league with the Patriots from 2010-13, Fletcher played last season with Tampa Bay, but signed a one-year deal with the Patriots this past May. While he certainly won’t be a starter, he provides good depth at the position and can play special teams. The 28-year-old is familiar with the system and should only add to what is already a good group of linebackers. The Montana State product could emerge as a good third-down linebacker if he can prove he can stay with running backs out of the backfield.

The skinny: As we’ve mentioned, the linebackers have the potential to be one of the best units in the NFL, provided they stay healthy. What makes it even more impressive is all three guys who lead the group — Collins, Hightower and Mayo — were all drafted by the Patriots. The only thing that could slow the group down is if one of the three get injured. With that being said, even with what happened last year with Mayo and Hightower’s injuries, it didn’t hold them back as they went onto win the Super Bowl. It was clear the secondary led the defense last season and this season it might just be the linebackers.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Tom Brady‘€™s four-game suspension will likely be upheld by the NFL and the announcement will come in the next 24-48 hours.

According to ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith, Tom Brady‘€™s four-game suspension will likely be upheld by the NFL and the announcement will come in the next 24-48 hours.

Appearing ESPN’s First Take, Smith said: “Within the last hour, I heard the Tom Brady suspension will likely be upheld. We all recognize that anything is possible, obviously minds can change. From what I am hearing, within the next 24-48 hours, the NFL will announce that they are upholding the four-game suspension against Tom Brady. He will serve his four-game suspension.

“They know and expect the National Football Players Association to appeal that decision and file an injunction so Tom Brady will be able to play and all this other stuff, but at the end of the day the NFL doesn’t have any fear whatsoever about Tom Brady taking this to federal court. They are fully aware that this is a possibility. They are confident that they will win and they are going to uphold this four-game suspension.”

For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Devin McCourty returns as the undisputed leader of the Patriots secondary. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Devin McCourty returns as the undisputed leader of the Patriots secondary. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

As training camp approaches, we’ll offer a position-by-position breakdown of the 2015 Patriots. We started with the wide receivers and moved on to the tight ends, offensive line, quarterback and running backs. After a check on the cornerbacks, here’s a look at the safties.

Depth chart: Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, Nate Ebner, Jordan Richards (R), Dax Swanson

THREE THINGS WE KNOW

1. Unlike the cornerbacks, the safeties seem to be as close to a sure thing that there is on defense. That starts with Devin McCourty, fresh from signing a five-year, $47.5 million deal, with $28.5 million guaranteed. Since moving from corner to free safety full-time in 2013, the 27-year-old Rutgers product has been a staple in the Patriots secondary. He has taken over calling all coverages and, perhaps just as importantly, providing leadership in the secondary. Darrelle Revis often pointed to McCourty’s direction and calmness as a reason for the secondary coming together the way it did in 2014.

2. Patrick Chung has emerged as a solid piece in his second go-around in New England. When Chung left after the 2012 season, there were those in New England who openly wondered exactly what the Eagles were thinking. That thought grew around the NFL when Chung struggled in Philadelphia in his lone season as a free safety, the Eagles cut him loose. Bill Belichick saw this as a chance to bring back a player with understanding of his system. He made one tweak. He gradually eased Chung back into the defense in training camp and preseason as a strong safety, a position he hadn’t played on a regular basis since his second season in 2010. It paid big dividends last year, as he made 62 tackles, starting 15 of his 16 games at strong safety. With Revis on board, Belichick was able to take a lot of deep zone pass defense responsibilities off his plate and play him in the box. There were several cases where Chung lined up as a linebacker to support in run situations. He was sixth on the team in defensive snaps in 2014.

3. Versatility is the name of the game. Belichick has always asked his young safeties learning the system to earn their roster spots by showing they can fill numerous roles, i.e. special teams. This is how Nate Ebner and Tavon Wilson have hung around so long, especially Wilson. There have been times where Wilson’s days seemed numbered given his inability to earn regular defensive snaps. But that’s not where Wilson has shown his true value. “The more you can do, the better you’re going to be,” Wilson said after being drafted by Belichick in 2012. “I just come in, play special teams, be the best whatever position they play me as; just try to be the best I can. I love to play special teams. It’s a part of the game. I played it in college, I love to do it.”

THREE QUESTIONS

1. How much of a role will rookie Jordan Richards have? This has the potential to be most intriguing player to watch in the secondary this camp as the rookie out of Stanford was taken in second round. Again, there were the draft gurus who thought Belichick over-drafted the smart, well-respected player. But we’re about to find out what he can do in the Patriots’ system. He is considered not only a team leader (and Belichick loves his college captains) but a quick study. It seems like the perfect fit. But Richards isn’t just about brains and leadership. He was a first team All PAC-12 player last season.

2. How much will the safeties help the corners? This seems like a no-brainer, especially with McCourty playing center field. McCourty came up as a corner and he can provide valuable assistance in helping with pass coverage. When Darrelle Revis was taking care of his man on his island last year, it was McCourty who would often help over the top with Brandon Browner on the opposite side. If McCourty was going to help with a corner like Browner, it would certainly seem likely that he’s capable of doing the same for a DB like Bradley Fletcher or Tarell Brown. Remember, it was safety Duron Harmon who helped out Logan Ryan and picked off Joe Flacco in the waning moments of the AFC divisional game at Gillette last January.

3. How often will opposing teams test the Patriots over the top? This may seem like it’s a bit of back to the future, like 2011 before the arrival of Aqib Talib. But you certainly don’t have to go back that far to see an opponent testing the Patriots secondary and their safeties deep. Remember Super Bowl XLIX against Seattle last February? Russell Wilson had success throwing deep on the Patriots, recording passes of 45, 33, 31 and 25 yards. It may have been purely the scheme and the Patriots not being fully prepared for a quarterback attacking Revis and Browner so openly. But whatever it was, the Seahawks continued a trend that began late in the regular season.

By the numbers: 13 — The combined years of experience between McCourty and Chung. There’s little doubt Belichick values not just the quality of play from both of his veteran safeties but their knowledge of the system. Belichick knows that with that type of experience, he can throw more responsibilities and exotic looks in the secondary that might help to compensate for some cornerback inexperience in the system.

Key new player: Jordan Richards. See above. The rookie out of Stanford joins a group that is filled with veterans and players very familiar with the system, at least at the start of camp. In addition to McCourty and Chung, there’s Duron Harmon, Wilson and Ebner, all of whom could provide valuable insight to the defensive scheme and leverages Belichick uses when deploying safeties. Richards played primarily strong safety at Stanford, and while not a big guy (5-foot-11), he is strong, 211 pounds, and banged out 13 bench press reps. His 3-cone and 60-yard shuttle drills at the combine were outstanding, catching the eyes of the Patriots. He will certainly push Tavon Wilson and couldn’t even wind up taking Wilson’s spot on the roster if Richards can show he can be a consistent force on special teams. But that will take some doing.

The skinny: The Patriots bring seven safeties to camp and figure to keep just five. Barring injury, there’s little doubt that McCourty and Chung are at the top. But exactly where Duron Harmon, Tavon Wilson, Richards and even Nate Ebner fit in really bear close attention. We probably won’t see too many exotic looks (if any at all) in the preseason from the safeties. But come the regular season, there is always the chance that the Patriots use a “Big Nickel” look, with three safeties or “Giant Dime” with three safeties and three corners. This came into play last year, when the Patriots inserted Chung or Wilson down in the box as a linebacker. While the cornerbacks provide a huge question mark entering camp, the safety position appears to be a position of strength heading into 2015. And Bill Belichick will take full advantage.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia