The NFL's Tuesday announcement that it upheld its four-game suspension of New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady is "unfathomable," the team's owner said Wednesday.
"I've come to the conclusion that this was never about doing what was fair and just," Patriots Owner Robert Kraft said in a morning news conference. "Now the league has taken the matter to court."
"I was wrong to put my faith in the league," he added, apologizing to fans for his decision not to appeal the NFL penalties in May because of the belief it would help Brady's exoneration.
Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, meanwhile, refused to answer questions about Brady's suspension, saying that Kraft had already addressed the team's position on the matter.
The decision on Brady's appeal, written by Commissioner Roger Goodell, was made in part because of "important new information" disclosed by the star quarterback and his representatives during the hearing, the NFL said. This includes the June 18 disclosure that Brady had "directed that the cell phone he had used for the prior four months be destroyed" despite investigators' request to access information stored on that device.
"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, and public confidence in, the game of professional football," Goodell wrote.
In response to the commissioner's decision, Brady authorized the NFL Players Association to appeal his case in federal court, NBC News reported.
On Wednesday, Brady posted on Facebook that he is "disappointed" by the NFL's decision.
"Despite submitting to hours of testimony over the past 6 months, it is disappointing that the Commissioner upheld my suspension based upon a standard that it was 'probable' that I was 'generally aware' of misconduct," Brady wrote. "The fact is that neither I, nor any equipment person, did anything of which we have been accused. He dismissed my hours of testimony and it is disappointing that he found it unreliable."
The Patriots were accused following the AFC championship game in January of intentionally deflating footballs (which many players say makes them easier to throw and catch). The incident was dubbed "deflategate" by some in the media.
"Based on the Wells Report and the evidence presented at the hearing, Commissioner Goodell concluded in his decision that Brady was aware of, and took steps to support, the actions of other team employees to deflate game footballs below the levels called for by the NFL's Official Playing Rules," the NFL statement said.
"The commissioner found that Brady's deliberate destruction of potentially relevant evidence went beyond a mere failure to cooperate in the investigation and supported a finding that he had sought to hide evidence of his own participation in the underlying scheme to alter the footballs," the NFL statement concluded.
Brady's camp released a statement decrying Goodell's decision.
"The Commissioner's decision is deeply disappointing, but not surprising because the appeal process was thoroughly lacking in procedural fairness," Brady attorney Don Yee said in a statement. "Most importantly, neither Tom nor the Patriots did anything wrong. And the NFL has no evidence that anything inappropriate occurred."
Yee also disputed the commissioner's claims about Brady not cooperating, saying he does "not think that any private citizen would have agreed to provide anyone with the amount of information that Tom was willing to reveal to the Commissioner."
For his part, Brady has denied any involvement in the footballs' deflation. In a January press conference, the quarterback admitted that "every team is trying to do the best they can to win every week," but that he was "as surprised as anybody" about the allegations.
Brady said at the time that he would not have wanted anyone tampering with his footballs beyond their normal preparation.
"Our equipment guys do a great job of breaking the balls in," he said. "When I picked those footballs out, at that point to me they're perfect—I don't want anyone touching the balls after that, I don't want anyone rubbing them, putting any air in them, taking any air out. To me those balls are perfect."
In addition to punishing Brady with a suspension, the NFL fined the Patriots $1 million and forced the team to forfeit its first-round pick in the 2016 draft and its fourth-round selection in the 2017 draft.
—NBC News contributed to this report.