The Missing Ingredient For Tom Brady in Deflategate

The Missing Ingredient
For Tom Brady in Deflategate


 By Kris Kile

Today, we build on my last blog post regarding Deflategate and what we can learn from it. Today, we take a look at how Tom Brady has helped fueled the furor in a significant way.


It is hard to overstate how beloved Tom Brady is in New England. In the tribal culture of the NFL, he is the head of the Patriot tribe—indisputably the greatest and most important player in the franchise’s history. Throw in the fact that he happens to be married to the most successful supermodel in history, Gisele Bundchen, and his storybook life is sure to inspire both adoration of fans and bile from detractors.


Opposing tribes/team-fans are frequently inclined to throw stones when possible at Brady. That is to be expected—they are opposing clans after all. The entire tribal culture scenario of the NFL reminds me of the movie, Braveheart, where the Mel Gibson character—William Wallace — had plenty of covert and overt opposition from other Scottish clans.


In today’s “more civilized” culture, we usually don’t resort to killing opposing tribes or clans, like the ancient Scots and others did. We vicariously live that out primarily through sports, and in my opinion, there is no sport more violent, or reminiscent of ancient clan battles than NFL football. It is as close to a blood sport as there is today.


In our culture today, rather than actual murder, we resort to murdering the reputation of leaders of opposing clans, if possible. As Tom Brady’s agent, Donald Yee (who represents several NFL players) says, “I’ve always told my friends who’ve inquired about the NFL – I tell them, there is no jealousy or envy like NFL jealousy or envy.”  


All of these dynamics help explain how something as insignificant as a couple psi of pressure in footballs used in a game—which had no measurable impact on the outcome of a game, could be blown to such proportions as a national news story that is even reported on by national news shows.


But, in my view, none of these dynamics are the key ingredient to the endless fascination and wildly varying takes on Deflategate. I say the key ingredient is the palpable sense that Brady has not been completely forthcoming throughout the controversy. He is withholding. People sense he is not being fully authentic about his thoughts or what actually occurred. They sense he is not being completely honest, and not fully forthcoming.


In reality, one of the stated contributing factors in his harsh punishment of being banned from competing for four games—a punishment which is on appeal—was his unwillingness to hand over phone and text records germane to the investigation.


There is a sense that he is not being 100% truthful. Even Patriot fans feel an unease about this .


Yes, I am sure he has felt he has been running with the sharks from the beginning of this overblown spectacle. But, in his reticence to be fully forthcoming, he has inadvertently ‘fed the monster.’


We all deeply desire the connection, inspiration, and freedom that comes with authenticity. And we hope to see it in our heroes. And when they fail that, we are disappointed. And if they are an anti-hero to us, we then get to pile on and be right about their flawed status. This is not only true in public life, it also is true in our own personal relationships.


Authenticity is engaging.
And a lack of it is polarizing
and creates resistance.


Being authentic is being true
to what is so for you
for the purpose of creating connection and value with another. 


Authenticity, as I am defining it here, is an act of giving. It is vulnerable. It requires courage. It is freely offering up truth, and risking its subsequent exposure, to benefit others.


Authenticity inherently creates connection. But, in the moment that we have the choice to be authentic or not, it feels like it will diminish connection because we might be judged and rejected. It is stepping into the unknown, and it feels dangerous.


Authenticity is counter-intuitive
to our inherent desire for survival.


The author and researcher Brene Brown says:

“Authenticity is a collection of choices
that we have to make every day.
It’s about the choice to show up and be real.
The choice to be honest.
The choice to let our true selves be seen.”
In my view, Tom Brady has failed the test of authenticity thus far. He has not discussed his hurt, the sense of injustice he must surely feel, his defiance that must be somewhere in his soul regarding the double standard he is being held to.


And he has not been fully forthcoming regarding all the details of his influence on the preparation of game day footballs, including their psi. At least, that is the sense I get, and it certainly was the conclusion of the Wells Report Investigation. I am not saying he is lying, I have no idea. I’m saying he is publicly not being true to what is so for him.

Time will tell how this controversy shakes out. And, it is easy to find fault from a distance. That is not the purpose of this post.


The beauty of this is how illustrative it is….
how we can learn from it and use it as a cautionary tale and motivation to take new ground in living our own lives authentically.
We are going to explore the dynamics of authenticity in the next several posts.


If you desire deep connection to others, as well as freedom and powerful engagement, this is a fundamental discipline. It is a fascinating consideration.




What are some of the personal takeaways you are seeing in this Deflategate controversy?


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