Washington: Details of how Tom Brady pressed his "Deflate-gate" suspension appeal to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell were made public Tuesday when the NFL Players Association released a hearing transcript.
The New England Patriots star quarterback denied any wrongdoing and explained destroying his cell phone was something he did routinely to avoid personal details becoming public.
The NFL last month penalised Brady for ordering the destruction of the phone at the center of the scandal, citing it as a key reason for dismissing his appeal against a four-match suspension.
Brady and the union took the matter to US federal court in hopes he might be reinstated before next month`s season opener for the Super Bowl champion Patriots.
The issue concerns a report by an NFL investigator saying it was likely Brady had to know about footballs in a playoff game being below NFL minimum inflation levels, making them easier to grip, grab and throw.
Brady told Goodell in the hearing that he picked the NFL minimum as his desired inflation level almost at random after being unhappy with a too-inflated ball at an October game last season against the New York Jets.
"In the history of my career I never thought about the inflation level of a ball," Brady said, noting that he picked the ones he wanted by "feel."
"The irony of everything is I don`t even squeeze a football. I grip the ball as loosely as possible. I`m just gripping it like a golf club."
NFL attorneys were concerned about multiple calls between Brady and the Patriots worker who provided the balls, calls Brady could not explain that came as the "Deflate-gate" scandal was growing and when he would called upon to prepare 100 footballs for use in the Super Bowl.
"I don`t remember exactly what we talked about," Brady said. "Me talking with him about these things that were unprecedented, he was the person I`d be communicating with.
"I was trying to make sure he was composed so he could do his job over the course of the next two weeks."
Brady said he was told by attorneys on February 28 that investigators wanted texts and e-mails Brady received and sent but they advised him not to hand over his phone.
"I was relying on the advice of my lawyers," Brady said. "What they basically said: we don`t think it`s proper for you to turn your phone over, so you don`t need to do that."
But Brady, whose wife is model Gisele Bundchen, said he has routinely given cell phones to an assistant to be destroyed during his career, in part because of photos and NFL and endorsement contracts that would be included in them.
And, Brady noted, he receives free upgraded phones in exchange.
"I don`t want anybody ever to see the contents of the phone," Brady said. "I`ve always told the guy who swaps them out for me to make sure you get rid of the phone. What I mean is destroy the phone."
NFL investigators took issue with the timing of the destruction of the phone covering early 2015, just before Brady spoke to investigators, who saw his move as dimming his credibility.