The NFL Players Association released the 457-page transcript Tuesday of Tom Brady’s Deflategate suspension appeal hearing.
In the June 23 appeal, Brady defended his actions to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, explaining his practices surrounding the preparation of game balls, as well as his cell phone use.
Questioned by his lawyer Jeffrey Kessler, Brady said he “never’’ talked to equipment assistant John Jastremski about the inflation level of the footballs.
[Kessler]: Mr. Brady, did the issue of inflation level ever come up as a factor when you are choosing your balls or deciding upon the balls; is that something you think about at that time?
[Kessler]: Okay. Do you discuss the inflation level of the balls with Mr. Jastremski during the process when you are selecting the balls?
Brady added that not once during his entire career did he ask anyone on the Patriots staff to alter or change the inflation level of the footballs after they had been selected and broken in before the game.
Asked by Goodell, Brady also explained how the Patriots would break in game balls.
[Brady]: Well, I don’t know all the specifics. I know there’s sandpaper. I know there’s dirt. I know there’s a leather conditioner that we use that I got from my old college coach that we use on the ball quite a bit.
And we take leather receiving gloves that the receivers use and we try to get the tack from the leather on the receiver gloves and really rub that into the — (indicating) — each of these balls have nubs on them. Sometimes if the ball is too nubby, I like to sand down the nubs. I don’t like it when there’s no nub because then there’s no traction on the ball.
So you want your hand to be able to grip the ball, but you don’t want it so flat that you can’t. So they try to, basically, moisten the ball with the leather conditioner. And it’s — it’s — that has been a very helpful way to break in a new ball quickly, not that there is any way to break in quickly.
Kessler also questioned Brady about a rainy 2014 Jets game, in which the Patriots used old, broken-in footballs — instead of the usual footballs broken in with sandpaper and conditioner — because the leather was more absorbent and less slippery than the conditioned footballs.
However, on the field, the balls felt different. Brady complained to Jastremski that the balls felt overinflated.
But first, Brady confirmed that, yes, he does get “fired up’’ during the game.
[Kessler]: Mr. Brady, during the course of a game, is it fair to say you are somebody who gets fired up and intense during a game?
[Kessler]: Is that a fair statement?
[Kessler]: Sometime after the Jets game, what did Mr. Jastremski tell you he learned about the ball?
[Brady]: That the balls were, you know, inflated to, you know, much higher than what they were agreed upon before the game.
[Kessler]: Do you recall what number he used?
[Kessler]: 16 psi? Okay. And how did you react to that? First of all, before he mentioned that, at that time, did you have any prior knowledge as to what the exact psi levels were set for in this NFL rule from 1920?
[Kessler]: No knowledge at all until then?
Brady said he told Patriots equipment manager Dave Schoenfield several days later to make sure the referees knew that the balls shouldn’t be that inflated, highlighting league regulations that game balls be between 12.5 and 13.5 PSI.
Later in the hearing, Brady outright denied that he told Jastremski to alter the footballs before the 2014 AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts.
[Kessler]: Okay. Now, when you selected the footballs, who was assisting you in the selection process at that time?
[Kessler]: Anybody else besides Mr. Jastremski or was it just the two of you?
[Brady]: Just the two of us.
[Kessler]: Okay. Now, at the time that you made that selection, did you give Mr. Jastremski — did you say anything to him about the pressure level of the balls on that day?
[Kessler]: Did you in any way suggest to him to do something to the balls to make them less than 12.5?
[Kessler]: Did you even suggest to him anything about 6 the pressure whether it was to make it at any level?
In the middle of the game, referees re-inflated the balls up to 13 PSI. Brady told Kessler he never noticed. The Patriots won the game 45-7.
Brady said he didn’t find out about the Deflategate allegations against the Patriots until a radio interview the following morning.
Brady said he spoke to Jastemski right after the interview.
[Kessler]: What did he tell you?
[Brady]: That he has no idea what happened and that he couldn’t explain it.
[Kessler]: And you know Mr. Jastremski a long time, I mean, for these three years?
[Brady]: Well, I have known him for 12 years since he has been working on the team because he was actually kind of the quarterback ball boy at one point during training camp, so.
[Kessler]: You generally found that in your dealings with him, he has been honest and upfront with you over the years?
[Kessler]: Do you believe that?
[Kessler]: So when he told you he didn’t know anything about it, did you believe him?
As for Brady’s much-discussed cell phone, the quarterback said his lawyers told him not to turn it over.
[Brady]: Well, I was relying on their advice as my lawyers and what they basically said, There’s been a request, but we don’t think it’s proper for you to turn your phone over, so you don’t need to do that.
[Kessler]: If they had told you that you should turn over anything, would you have done so?
[Kessler]: Okay. At the time that the request was made, okay, you know what e-mails you did and what texts you did. Were there any e-mails or texts that you were worried about which showed you knew about deflating or anything like that? Was there anything you were trying to hide or conceal in your mind?
[Brady]: Absolutely not.
Brady on “destroying’’ his phone:
[Kessler]: Now, Mr. Brady, let me ask you about your patterns of phones, okay, because not everybody has this pattern, okay. First of all, do you have access to basically cell phones for free?
[Kessler]: So it is essentially costless to you to get another cell phone?
[Kessler]: Okay. Now, have you had a practice, and tell me when it began, how long ago, of destroying or, I guess, asking somebody to destroy or get rid of your cell phones periodically?
[Brady]: I think for as long as I have had a cell phone.
[Goodell]: Just, Jeff, can I ask a question? How often do you normally dispose of your phone? When you say “get rid of,’’ does it run out of time?
[Brady]: Well, if it — a new version may come out of a particular phone, if I break the phone, I’ve stepped on the screen a few times, it just fell out of my bag at my locker, I’m not seeing it, I stepped on it, I think three or four times, sometimes the touch panel breaks.
Brady also explained why he destroys his phone when he gets a new one:
[Brady]: I think whenever I’m done with the phone, I don’t want anybody ever to see the content of the phone, photos. Obviously there is a log with the smart phones of all my e-mail communications. So in those folders, there is player contracts. There’s, you know, endorsement deals. There’s — along with photos of my family and so forth that I just don’t want anyone to ever come in contact with those.
A lot of people’s private information that had that phone — if it shows up somewhere, then, you know, all the contacts in my phone, you know, wouldn’t want that to happen. So I have always told the guy who swaps them out for me, make sure you get rid of the phone.
And what I mean is destroy the phone so that no one can ever, you know, reset it or do something where I feel like the information is available to anybody.
Brady added that he changed his phone number after the Wells Report came out because a lot of people started guessing what it was.
The Patriots quarterback was then cross-examined by NFL lawyer Lorin Reisner, who continued asking about the phone.
[Reisner]: And do you see that there is a gap from November 6, 2014 to March 5, 2015, in the phones provided to and received by and reviewed by the forensic consultant?
[Reisner]: And did you use a cell phone to make calls 7 and send and receive text messages during this gap period of November 6, 2014, to March 5, 2015?
[Reisner]: And that gap period of November 6, 2014 to 11 March 5, 2015, includes the day of the AFC Championship Game on January 18, 2015, correct?
[Reisner]: And that gap period also includes the period immediately following the AFC Championship Game 16 after questions were raised about possible deflation of footballs, correct?
[Reisner]: So my question is: Do you know why a phone that was active during this period was not provided to your forensic expert for review?
[Brady]: We didn’t have it.
[Reisner]: Do you know where that phone is now?
[Brady]: No idea.
[Reisner]: Are you certain that you disposed of that phone?
[Brady]: I gave it to my assistant.
[Reisner]: Do you know when you provided it to your assistant?
[Brady]: I have no idea.
[Reisner]: And when you provided it to your assistant,
did you provide it to your assistant for the purpose
of it being disposed of?
Resiner pointed out the day Brady’s new phone became active was March 6, the same day of Brady’s interview with Ted Wells.
Read the full transcript here, if you have the free time.
Tom Brady career timeline