Seven years later, Deflategate is in the news again. Following a report from earlier this week that suggested the NFL destroyed evidence that might have hurt its case against Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, Roger Goodell was asked about it during his Super Bowl press conference.
Goodell pleaded ignorance about the claim that data has reportedly been expunged on behalf of NFL general counsel Jeff Pash. That data, collected via spot checks to control ball inflation levels during the 2015 regular season, would likely have shown that Brady and the Patriots did nothing wrong.
Goodell, the head of a league office hell-bent on bringing down the hammer for the alleged violations, did not give any insight into the NFL’s process.
“We were very clear that we were going to do spot checks to make sure that people were following the policies. That is something that we fully engaged in, and I don’t know what happened to the data, to be honest with you,” he said.
“We don’t look back at that. We just make sure there’s no violations. That’s the purpose of the spot checks: are there violations, and if there are violations, we need to look into it. But thankfully, we did not see any.”
Back in January 2015, the NFL — led by vice president of football operations Troy Vincent — claimed that Brady and the Patriots were illegally tampering with the pressure levels inside footballs to gain a competitive advantage. The league spent millions on a subsequent investigation only to find no definitive proof of any wrongdoing. Quite the opposite: basic scientific data showed the balls were at the expected levels.
Nonetheless, Goodell stripped the Patriots of two draft picks and suspended Brady for four games to start the 2016 season.