ESPN’s Mark Brunell joined Middays with MFB on Friday to discuss Deflategate and Tom Brady‘s role in it, a day after he indicated that he did not believe Brady’s assertion that he was not involved. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
“My opinion is I don’t believe Tom Brady was telling the truth,” Brunell said. “But I will say, I thought Bill Belichick, he came across as sincere. In my experiences with six different head coaches, never one time has the subject of the condition of the footballs on game day come up. Those guys have other things to do, much like coach Belichick. I don’t think he had any knowledge of it based on my history.
“But I do know the equipment guys, their No. 1 job on game day is to take care of the players, meet the needs of the players. … And at the top of that list is making sure those footballs are exactly how the starting quarterback wants them. That’s what I do know.”
Brunell became emotional on ESPN Thursday while discussing the press conference in which Brady denied any involvement in Deflategate.
“I was disappointed. I was surprised by what Tom had to say,” Brunell said. “Based on my experience as a quarterback and understanding the process of getting the ball prepared and getting it in the right condition and getting it onto the field during game day, I expected something totally different from Tom. I just didn’t believe that he had nothing to do with it.
“The NFL’s investigation made it very clear that those balls were deflated by two PSI. Somebody had to do it. And I just don’t think there’s an equipment guy in the NFL or anywhere, like I said, that would take it on himself to deflate the balls … That just doesn’t happen.”
Brunell said he did not expect Brady to take the approach he did.
“I don’t believe it was true,” Brunell said. “This is what I expected from Tom, honestly: I just thought he’d say, ‘Listen, I’ve gone on record as saying that I prefer the balls deflated.’ And whenever that was at some point in the past, months, maybe years ago, he says he’s communicated to an equipment guy, ‘If it’s OK, take some of the pressure out, that’s how I prefer it.’ I thought he’d come on and admit that. I thought he would say, ‘I made a mistake, it’s my responsibility, it will never happen again, I wanted a little air out of the balls but I didn’t realize it would be that much.’
“If that happens — because you could very easily see him saying that, or believe that was the case — if that happens, I think this story goes away real quick. Just taking some of the blame, admitting to a mistake and hopefully moving on. That’s what I thought I would hear from Tom Brady.”
Added Brunell: “I don’t think it’s that big a deal, to be honest with you. If Tom came out and said that, I think this goes away to a degree. The NFL will carry on its investigation. Maybe the team gets fined, maybe Tom gets fined or something.
“Listen, everybody loves Tom Brady. Everyone loves Tom Brady, respects him. If he wins this football game, he may be the best that’s ever played this game. And so if he just says, ‘You know what, I made a mistake. It was an oversight. I should have paid closer attention,’ I believe this goes away. Maybe it’s a fine or something. But now this story is going to continue. It’s going to carry into the Super Bowl and it’s going to go far beyond that. It just adds fuel to the fire. That’s just my opinion on it.”
Brunell said this controversy could end up dogging Brady for a long time.
“If this has been a pattern, if this has been going on for some time, I honestly believe that having a deflated ball is a competitive advantage. I really believe that. How long this has been going on remains to be seen,” Brunell said.
“But let me talk about his legacy: He will go on to be, like I said, one of the best, maybe the best ever. But unfortunately for Tom, this is going to travel with him. He’s going to carry this for some time. Now, the NFL investigation obviously is still going on, it has yet to be determined how this thing is going to play out. But much like Spygate is traveling with coach Belichick, unfortunately Deflategate is going to travel with Tom.”
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