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Media Skills Training

Tom Brady...I'll Take Plausible Deniability for $1000.

The deflate-gate conversation has now transitioned to whether or not the four-game suspension, loss of draft picks, and fines was too much or not enough for Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

It really doesn’t matter that much to me, although people who cheat and lie should be held accountable. What’s more fascinating to me is how Brady has communicated since the story broke. His remarks have not added any clarity to what happened or his knowledge of it and indeed brought his culpability into question.

It’s amazing what people do when they get caught or accused of wrongdoing. It’s usually the response or the cover-up that feeds the flames of a scandal and leads to a bigger downfall. Famous historical examples include Watergate and “I did not have sex with that woman!”

When the story first hit the news in January, the Brady quotes from various news sources include “I didn’t alter the ball in any way…,” “I was surprised as anybody…,” “I believe I’ve always played within the rules…” and “This isn’t ISIS. Nobody is dying.”

Not definitive denials, but not shedding any light on the story.

The Wells Report on the scandal stated that Brady “was probably at least generally aware” of the rules violations. Wells did not find a “smoking gun,” but it was not a vindication either. Legally this is called preponderance, but not clear and convincing.

During a public appearance two days later at Salem State University in Salem, Massachusetts Brady said to Jim Gray, “I don’t have any reaction…Our owner commented on it yesterday. It’s only been 30 hours, so I haven’t had much time to digest it fully, but when I do, I’ll be sure to let you know how I feel about it.”

It is odd that in a time when news travels faster than a 40-yard pass, Brady needs more than 30 hours to digest the report and figure out how he feels about it. Not a good strategy, Tom.

When things go wrong, it’s time for openness, transparency, and a willingness to admit to mistakes. The public likes to forgive people, especially heroes who admit they are human and willing to learn from their mistakes and make some form of restitution. The amount of time it takes for that forgiveness to start flowing is in direct proportion to how much they try to deflect, cover-up, or dance around the truth. How a person communicates when bad things happen generally reflects his/her character and gets us closer to the truth of the situation.

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