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The agent representing star NFL quarterback Tom Brady on Wednesday suggested the league’s commissioner upheld a four-game suspension over under-inflated balls to distract the public from criticism of an inconsistent disciplinary record.
Speaking to "NBC Nightly News" anchor Lester Holt, agent Don Yee said Brady turned over seven months of phone records to investigators looking into allegations that New England Patriots personnel deflated footballs before the AFC championship game.
"We believe we've been very transparent," Yee said. The records show everyone that Brady called or texted with, Yee said.
On Tuesday NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell rejected an appeal and upheld a four-game suspension for Brady. The Patriots were also fined $1 million and stripped of two draft picks. Brady has denied doing anything wrong. The players union has vowed to appeal the decision.
The NFL accused Brady of obstructing the league's investigation by having his cellphone destroyed just before he met with investigators in March. Brady has denied destroying evidence, and said he always destroys an old phone when getting a new one.
"It's been well documented in the past two years that this commissioner's decisions on discipline have been quite erratic," Yee said. "It's unfortunate, but that's the record, and perhaps this is a way to restore his credibility by using Tom."
Goodell came under fire for his handling of the Ray Rice domestic violence case, in which Goodell initially suspended the Baltimore Ravens running back for two games, but then suspended him indefinitely after graphic video showing the assault in an elevator was leaked and inspired public outrage.
Rice was reinstated to the NFL after an arbitrator ruled that Goodell's indefinite suspension of Rice was "arbitrary," but no team was willing to sign him. A domestic-violence charge against Rice was later dismissed.
In upholding the suspension, the NFL said Brady’s destruction of the 4-month-old phone "supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs."
Goodell wrote that Brady “engaged in conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football." An investigator hired by the league concluded there was “substantial and credible evidence” that the balls were deliberately under-inflated, and Brady likely knew about it.
NBC Sports: Deflate-Gate Still Full of Wild Twists and Turns
Yee said Brady is unfazed by public criticism over what has been come to be called Deflate-Gate. Yee called the prospect of being suspended four games significant as the Patriots try to defend their Super Bowl title.
"Tom's always been a pretty cool customer, but he is rattled to the extent that possibly his privilege to playing NFL for four games is being taken away," Yee said.
"He completely understands that people are going to think whatever they want to think," Yee said. "He only can control what he can do, and his job is to perform on the field for the Patriots and their fans — and that's what he wants to get back to."
Late Wednesday, the NFL Players Association asked the U.S. District Judge David Doty, in Minnesota, to overturn Brady's four-game suspension — or at least put it on hold until the case can be heard. The union asked the court to throw out the suspension before Sept. 4. That would keep Brady from missing any practices before the Patriots' Sept. 10 season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Doty is named in the NFL and players' union collective bargaining agreement as the arbiter of disputes between the two entities.