FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady vowed to fight his four-game suspension for his role in the Deflategate controversy, writing Wednesday in a 507-word Facebook post: “I did nothing wrong, and no one in the Patriots organization did either.”

Breaking his silence a day after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell upheld the punishment, Brady also denied destroying his cellphone to keep it out of the hands of investigators.

“To suggest that I destroyed a phone to avoid giving the NFL information it requested is completely wrong,” the three-time Super Bowl MVP said. “There is no ‘smoking gun’ and this controversy is manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrongdoing.”

Brady was suspended four games and the team was docked $1 million and two draft picks after the league found improperly inflated footballs were used in the AFC championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. Investigator Ted Wells zeroed in on two equipment managers – one who called himself “The Deflator” – and said Brady was “at least generally aware” of the illegal deflation scheme.

The Patriots went on to win the Super Bowl for their fourth NFL title under Brady and coach Bill Belichick.

Brady, who had earlier denied cheating accusations with the tepid “I don’t think so,” more forcefully defended himself in the Facebook post, claiming he cooperated with the investigation except where doing so would have set a bad precedent for his union brethren.

“I respect the Commissioners authority, but he also has to respect the (collective bargaining agreement) and my rights as a private citizen,” Brady wrote. “I will not allow my unfair discipline to become a precedent for other NFL players without a fight.”
Much of the post involved an explanation of Brady’s cellphone swap, which was cited by Goodell as new evidence of the quarterback’s failure to cooperate. Brady said he replaced a broken phone only after his lawyers told the league they couldn’t have it.
“Most importantly, I have never written, texted, emailed to anybody at anytime, anything related to football air pressure before this issue was raised at the AFC Championship game in January,” he wrote.

Brady’s comments were liked by 51,000 people – including his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen – in the first 30 minutes after it was posted on Facebook. The Patriots are scheduled to open training camp later Wednesday; it was not clear when Brady would speak to the media for the first time.

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Brady and the players union are headed to a legal clash with the NFL over Deflategate after Goodell rejected Brady’s appeal Tuesday and upheld the four-game suspension of the New England Patriots quarterback and reigning Super Bowl MVP.

Recent settlement deliberations between the league and the NFL Players Association failed to produce a compromise, and several people connected to the process said the players association now plans to move swiftly to try to have Brady’s suspension overturned in court.

Brady gave the union his approval later Tuesday for a lawsuit to be filed on his behalf, according to a person familiar with the situation. Another person connected to the case had said earlier that the union was “ready to go once he (Brady) gives the go-ahead.”

On Wednesday Brady posted this message on his Facebook page, expressing disappointment in the ruling.

Goodell kept the suspension intact after hearing Brady’s appeal, and revealed Tuesday that the league learned Brady had directed that his cell phone be destroyed shortly before meeting with the NFL’s investigators in March.

“The evidence fully supports my findings that (1) Mr. Brady participated in a scheme to tamper with the game balls after they had been approved by the game officials for use in the AFC Championship Game and (2) Mr. Brady willfully obstructed the investigation by, among other things, affirmatively arranging for destruction of his cellphone knowing that it contained potentially relevant information that had been requested by the investigators,” Goodell wrote in his ruling. “All of this indisputably constitutes conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football.”

Goodell wrote that he “entered into the appeal process open to re-evaluating my assessment of Mr. Brady’s conduct and the associated discipline.”

But he concluded: “Notwithstanding my enormous respect for his accomplishments on the field and for his contributions and role in the community, I find that, with respect to the game balls used in the AFC Championship Game and the subsequent investigation, Mr. Brady engaged in conduct detrimental to the integrity” of professional football.

Brady and the Patriots have denied knowingly using deflated footballs in the AFC title game win over Indianapolis. The Patriots went on to beat Seattle in the Super Bowl and Brady was the MVP.

The team issued a statement that said, “We cannot comprehend the league’s position in this matter. Most would agree that the penalties levied originally were excessive and unprecedented, especially in light of the fact that the league has no hard evidence of wrongdoing.”

PLAYERS UNION, BRADY’S AGENT OBJECT

The NFL announced in late January that Wells would head an investigation into New England’s use of underinflated balls against the Colts. More than three months later, the 243-page Wells report was issued, saying it was “more probable than not” that Brady was “at least generally aware” that footballs he used were improperly deflated by team personnel.

The four-time Super Bowl champion was suspended by NFL executive Troy Vincent in May after the Wells report. The Patriots were fined $1 million and docked a pair of draft picks. The team didn’t appeal its penalty, but Brady appealed his.

“The NFL resorted to a nebulous standard of ‘general awareness’ to predicate a legally unjustified punishment,” the players union said, adding that “the NFL violated the plain meaning of the collective bargaining agreement.”

Brady’s agent, Don Yee, criticized Goodell’s ruling and the NFL appeal process in a strongly worded written statement. Yee said Goodell’s decision “is deeply disappointing, but not surprising because the appeal process was thoroughly lacking in procedural fairness. . . . The appeal process was a sham, resulting in the commissioner rubber-stamping his own decision.”

Yee said Brady and his representatives “presented the commissioner with an unprecedented amount of electronic data, all of which is incontrovertible. … Tom was completely transparent. All of the electronic information was ignored; we don’t know why. The extent to which Tom opened up his private life to the commissioner will become clear in the coming days.

“The Ccommissioner’s decision and discipline has no precedent in all of NFL history,” Yee said. “His decision alters the competitive balance of the upcoming season. The decision is wrong and has no basis, and it diminishes the integrity of the game.”

LEGAL MANEUVERING HAS ALREADY STARTED

People familiar with the case expect the union’s lawsuit on Brady’s behalf to be filed in either Massachusetts or Minnesota. The league and union have a long history in federal court in Minneapolis. The players association could seek an injunction that would restore Brady’s eligibility to play while the case proceeds in court.

The NFL made the first legal move Tuesday, filing a case in New York to attempt to have the suspension affirmed.

It will be the latest in a string of legal clashes between the league and union over disciplinary measures imposed by the NFL on players.

Ray Rice’s indefinite suspension after a domestic violence incident involving his fiancee was overturned by Barbara Jones, a former judge appointed by Goodell to hear Rice’s appeal. And the union went to federal court in Minnesota after Adrian Peterson’s appeal of his league-imposed suspension – for lashing his 4-year-old son with a tree switch – was upheld by arbitrator Harold Henderson.

In the Peterson case, the NFL prevailed in front of U.S. District Judge David Doty, who sent the case back to the league for further proceedings under the collective bargaining agreement. The league then reinstated Peterson, basically sticking to the timetable it already had established for consideration of that move, and the running back now is in training camp with the Minnesota Vikings.

But those were disciplinary measures taken under the personal conduct policy, and the union could argue that the NFL was retroactively – and improperly – applying standards under that policy that were not in place when the players’ conduct occurred. The league modified its disciplinary guidelines for domestic violence cases last summer.

The union won’t have that legal argument available for Brady. But those connected to the case on the players’ side of the sport say they believe Brady and the union have a strong case and an excellent chance of winning.

SUPPORT FROM TEAMS TO UPHOLD SUSPEJNSION

The players association can argue that the finding by NFL-appointed investigator Ted Wells that Brady probably was at least generally aware of a football-deflation scheme is not legally sufficient for the discipline that was imposed. It can argue that the sport’s guidelines for handling footballs apply to teams, not to players, and that Brady was given an arbitrary punishment without a precedent. The union also can attack the league’s approach to explaining the science related to the possible impact of weather conditions on football deflation.

The league and union explored the possibility of a negotiated settlement of Brady’s appeal that would have kept the two sides out of court, according to people familiar with the case. But it did not appear that much progress was made. The union did not appear willing to agree to a suspension of any length for Brady, and the league maintained that a significant suspension was necessary.

There was strong support by many within the league for Goodell to keep the suspension intact.

“I think he has to stay with the same thing,” a high-ranking official with one NFL team said last week.

The Patriots open training camp Thursday. Brady’s second-year backup, Jimmy Garoppolo, would be in line to open the regular season as the team’s quarterback if Brady’s suspension is kept intact and he remains ineligible to play. Garoppolo was a second-round draft choice by the Patriots last year and had success in limited playing time as a rookie, completing 19 of 27 passes for 182 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions last season.

The Patriots host the Pittsburgh Steelers in the NFL’s season-opening game Sept. 10.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.