Southwest Airlines should hire Tom Brady to do one of those “Gotta Get Away” commercials.
After Patriots management decided against appealing the NFL’s DeflateGate punishment, Ron Borges of the Boston Herald reported this week:
“[Coach Bill] Belichick never believed [Brady’s] story, from what I was told,” Borges said. “Because they all know. Why do you think all those retired quarterbacks, the Troy Aikmans of the world — Troy Aikman is about as nice a guy as I’ve ever met in football — nobody’s backed [Brady]. Nobody, not a single guy. Why do you think that is? Because they hate Brady? No. Because they’re not stupid. They know nothing’s done with those balls that the quarterback doesn’t want done.”
Just like Fox Sports cuts to Mike Pereira to interpret the NFL Rules, I’ll provide the breakdown from a PR perspective.
PR Rule #1: Tell the truth. This one is as easy to understand as offsides or illegal motion. Pick your favorite sports media gaffe that resulted from an athlete being less than truthful. Lance Armstrong. Manti Te’o. A-Rod. The list could go on.
The media has been taught to ‘get the story, get it first and get it right.’ When a sports star lies, someone will prove it and make the lie as big of a story as the original issue.
But let’s say you can’t help yourself and still tell a big lie? What then?
“I would never, you know, uh, you know, have someone do something that was outside the rules.” Tom Brady, January 22, 2015 press conference.
PR Rule #2: When caught lying, apologize and tell the truth. Here’s what Brady should say:
“Right before the Super Bowl, I was asked a question about the air in the footballs from the AFC Championship Game.
I wasn’t completely truthful with my answer. I was worried about my team and the upcoming game but still should’ve been clearer.
I was asked by an equipment manager how I liked the footballs. I told him I liked them with a little less air. I shouldn’t have said that and take responsibility for it. I apologize to my teammates, Patriots management, the NFL and most importantly the fans.”
Brady and the Patriots legacies are tarnished. Continuing to lie won’t change that. Their only call is to learn from the mistake, be transparent and move on. And in the future play by both NFL and PR rules.