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Brady faces #DeflateGate questions, avoids them

Tom Brady


On May 7, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said that he would provide his reaction to the Ted Wells #DeflateGate report “hopefully soon.” More than six months later, Brady still hasn’t.

In the interim, Brady gave lengthy testimony at his internal appeal hearing, during which he resisted admitting what the evidence makes obvious: Once Brady became aware that the minimum allowable air pressure in footballs is 12.5 PSI, he instructed the equipment staff to inflate the balls to 12.5 PSI not because it was a random number that popped into his head but because he prefers the balls to have less air instead of more.

He agreed last month to submit to an interview with GQ magazine, a supposed no-holds-barred, face-to-face session with Chuck Klosterman that morphed two days before the sit-down into a one-hour conversation -- which became once it began a discussion with a limit of 45 minutes due to Brady’s schedule.

The entire article can be seen here. When Brady was asked about #DeflateGate, he clammed up.

“I’ve had those questions for eight months and I’ve answered them, you know, multiple times for many different people,” Brady said after initially declining to address whether he disagrees with the conclusion that he was “generally aware” of a scheme to deflate footballs.

As Klosterman notes, Brady really hasn’t answered those questions. Beyond the painfully awkward are-you-a-cheater?-I-don’t-believe-so press conference that happened four days after the AFC title game (and that in fairness to Brady occurred at a time when the league had leaked blatantly false information about the PSI readings to ESPN, putting the entire Patriots organization on the defensive), Brady hasn’t really said all that much to anyone in the media.

From a P.R. perspective, it’s not the best move. From a legal perspective, it’s smart to say nothing more than what he has already said while being interviewed by Ted Wells or testifying before Roger Goodell.

“I’m not talking about [the ‘general awareness’ allegation], because there’s still ongoing litigation,” Brady told Klosterman. “It has nothing to do with the personal question that you’re trying to ask, or the answer you’re trying to get. I’m not talking about anything as it relates to what’s happened over the last eight months. I’ve dealt with those questions for eight months. It’s something that -- obviously I wish that we were talking about something different. But like I said, it’s still going on right now. And there’s nothing more that I really want to add to the subject. It’s been debated and talked about, especially in Boston, for a long time.”

The interview didn’t last much longer, because Klosterman kept asking the question to the point (some will say) of badgering Brady. Brady, who is much better at playing football than talking about football or pretty much anything else, tried multiple times to explain that he has no interest in discussing the subject now, especially since litigation is still ongoing.

What’s amazing is that anyone from Brady’s camp or the Patriots allowed the GQ interview to even happen. At a time when Brady does the bare minimum when it comes to weekly media availability (once during the week and once after each game) to a press corps smart enough to devote their limited access to questions he’ll actually answer, the fact that Brady would submit to any interview that he can’t control (e.g., with the team’s official website . . . EXCLUSIVE!) isn’t just surprising -- it’s shocking.

Bottom line? Folks who already think Brady cheated will conclude he came off poorly in the interview. Folks who already think he didn’t cheat will conclude Klosterman came off as a huge jerk.

Still, when the litigation is finally over, Brady needs to sit down for a frank, candid interview -- not with Jim Gray or a co-worker at the Patriots or Bill Simmons or a mainstream, non-football journalist who doesn’t fully appreciate the entire range of facts and nuances of the case but someone who would be able to ask meaningful questions with probing follow-ups in order to get to the one thing that has remained elusive since the AFC title game: The truth.