Recent efforts by Tom Brady’s camp to prove his innocence in Deflategate could backfire and reinforce the perception that he is guilty. If Brady pushes too hard with vague circumstantial correcting evidence and starts pointing fingers, he could inch in the direction of Lance Armstrong in terms of public perception. Brady is already at a disadvantage because America felt duped after believing Armstrong’s story of perseverance against all obstacles.
Because of the tribal nature of sports, fans from the New England area make up the majority of those giving Brady the benefit of the doubt. What people think is not as important as how they think. Sadly, biases have an effect on everyone. Brady is successful, good looking and apparently an overall good guy. Sometimes that level of success breeds contempt. A large portion of the population believes successful people became that way by less than noble means. But Brady is a great stories of hard work, perseverance and good guy success.
If Brady wants to actively defend himself, he must do the following:
- Focus on the facts and keep it simple.
- Have an unassailable alternative explanation.
- Brady and the Patriots’ explanation must be validated by an independent third party.
- Every time the Brady camp mentions the findings in the Wells Report, they must start with the inconsistencies and bias found therein.
- His camp and the Patriots’ front office must stop talking about Deflategate until actions two and three noted above are completed. Defending themselves through the media just reinforces the independent report in the public’s mind.
If Brady can’t accomplish the above, even if he is innocent, he should just take his medicine. Sadly, the court of public opinion means more here than the legal system. If he is actually innocent, Brady has it even worse. He’s trying to prove something that didn’t happen; a guilty until proven innocent standard.
If Brady moves forward with strong circumstantial evidence, but not unassailable evidence to prove his innocence, the public outside of New England will consider him just another excuse-making, evasive cheater.