By Steve Adubato, PhD
On Monday afternoon, the NFL handed down its punishment to the Patriots and reigning Super Bowl MVP, Tom Brady, for the deflation of footballs used in the AFC Championship Game, as well as for Brady’s lack of cooperation with the NFL. The punishment includes a four game suspension for Brady and a $1 million fine to the Patriots in addition to two docked draft picks.
Tom Brady, of course, is appealing this decision, refusing to take responsibility for his involvement. Further, his lawyer has trashed the report and its author, respected attorney Ted Wells, claiming the whole investigation was a set up from the beginning. That’s bad enough. But what bothers me more is the clear lack of accountability Brady displayed following the release of the NFL Wells report. He ducked and giggled and delivered a glib and totally ineffective response to the conclusion that he, most likely, knew that the New England Patriots lower level “staff” were deflating footballs to Brady’s liking in the AFC Championship game - clearly violating the rules.
In the interview with Jim Gray, Brady said he had not read the NFL report and stated “Usually I’m used to reading X’s and O’s and this was a little bit longer.” The hometown New England audience laughed. The rest of us, who expect adults and leaders to take responsibility for their actions, were appalled. Brady is a disgrace. He’s supposed to be a role model to kids for how to play the game and how to win fairly.
In the press conference before the Super Bowl, Brady bragged that he had never broken any rules in the NFL, while at the same time he was most likely putting heavy pressure and possibly directing the Patriots “ball boys” to break the rules for him. What kind of leader is that? The answer: one with very little courage and even less integrity. One who figures he can let someone way down in the organization take the hit while he stays above the fray.
What a powerful lesson in how NOT to lead. I suspect, Tom Brady will eventually admit he did, in fact, direct the Patriots staff to break the rules and deflate the footballs to his liking. He will also likely admit that he gave those same staff members valuable gifts in return. And to make matters worse, he chose not to cooperate with the NFL investigation by refusing to turn over text messages.
Some will say all this is much ado about nothing with so many “real” issues going in the world. But this is not about football, it’s about making sure our kids know that the old adage, “it's how you play the game” really does matter and it’s not just about winning or losing. Somewhere along the way this great athlete forgot that lesson. What’s worse, when he got caught, it seems he was dumb enough to try to cover it up and stick the blame on some Patriot lackey who was afraid to cross the golden boy with all those Super Bowl rings.
Yes, indeed, Tom Brady is a great athlete, but a terrible leader. And it appears, not a very nice person either.