It looks like GQ managed to land interviews with the two most powerful men in the United States. While Bill Simmons was able to speak with President Barack Obama, Chuck Klosterman was tasked with producing a profile of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for the magazine's Man of the Year series.
The story didn't go as planned.
Klosterman spent time asking about Brady's growth as a player, his teammates, and his experiences. He eventually landed on a series of questions about Deflarthyism and Brady did not want to respond.
CK: There's one element of the Wells Report that I find fascinating: The report concludes that you had a "general awareness" of the footballs being deflated. The report doesn't say you were aware. It says you were generally aware. So I'm curious—would you say that categorization is accurate? I guess it depends on how you define the word generally. But was that categorization true or false?
Brady: [pause] I don't really wanna talk about stuff like this. There are several reasons why. One is that it's still ongoing. So I really don't have much to say, because it's—there's still an appeal going on.
CK: Oh, I realize that. But here's the thing: If we don't talk about this, the fact that you refused to talk about it will end up as the center of the story. I mean, how can you not respond to this question? It's a pretty straightforward question.
Brady: I've had those questions for eight months and I've answered them, you know, multiple times for many different people, so—
CK: I don't think you have, really. When I ask, "Were you generally aware that this was happening," what is the answer?
What is the answer?
Brady, correctly, moves away from the line of questioning as the legal proceedings are still ongoing, but Klosterman continues to push and push and push for no reason other than the fact that Brady has been unwilling to give anyone, anywhere, a quote about anything to do with DeflateGate.
There's no value to Klosterman's questioning, other than to set up Brady for a line of further questioning about DeflateGate. Brady has already, under oath, answered the question. The following is from Brady's appeal:
Q: During your whole career now, I want to be very clear about this, I am asking during your whole career, have you ever asked anyone from the Patriots to alter the footballs in any way after you've approved them?
Q. Okay. Now, have you ever specifically, so again, very specific question, have you ever told anyone on the Patriots after you've given to them that they should change the inflation level of the footballs after you approved them or do anything about the inflation level after you approved them?
Brady, at multiple points and in many ways, answered the question with his lawyers present. There's no value in answering Klosterman who knew that, regardless of Brady's willingness to respond to the question, he'd have the draw to his article: either Brady breaks his silence, or Brady doesn't take the chance to clear his name.
It doesn't matter and it's a waste of ink. How about asking Brady about his thoughts on Peyton Manning this season? How about drawing a connection between this year and 2007? Maybe Brady would be willing to compare Rob Gronkowski and Randy Moss.
But to try and drag out a response from Brady about DeflateGate for over seven minutes (according to the article) for a point you already knew Brady wouldn't address isn't about maintaining journalistic integrity. It's for a fluff piece in the Man of the Year series, for goodness sake. It's a sacrifice to the clickbait gods.
Klosterman admits that he wanted Brady to open up on DeflateGate so the following questions could be asked. I've taken the liberty to answer them, so Brady wouldn't have to.
• At what point did you become aware that people were accusing you of cheating?
Q: Now what I want to do is focus on the events after the game is over. When did you first become aware after the game now that someone was making allegations that the Patriots had done something to deflate the balls during the game? How did you learn about that?
A: On the radio show the following morning.
Q: The following morning?
from the Appeals transcript
• Do you (or did you) have any non-professional relationship with Jim McNally and John Jastremski, the Patriots employees at the crux of this controversy?
Q: Prior to all these allegations, did you know the name Jim McNally?
from the Appeals transcript
I have known [Jastremski] for 12 years since he has been working on the team because he was actually kind of the quarterback ball boy at one point during training camp, so.
from the Appeals transcript. Brady's response, as well as the Wells Report findings, makes it seem like Brady was not in contact with Jastremski outside of a work relationship.
• Do you now concede some of the balls might have been below the legal limit, even if you had no idea this was happening? Or was the whole thing a total fiction?
Sure, if we're talking about 0.1 PSI, that probably falls near the margin of error for the pressure gauges. But this is the problem: the officials didn't record the initial measurements so there's no baseline for any of the math behind the entire Wells Report.
Everything points to the officials signing off on a couple footballs that were above and a few that were below the limit, but no nefarious operation by the Patriots.
There's absolutely nothing that shows any interference with the footballs and the range of pressure for the footballs is far greater than the supposed average below the 12.5 PSI limit, which means that the pressures of the footballs were all over the place. That should have eliminated any consideration of nefarious acts.
• Do you believe negligibly deflated footballs would provide a meaningful competitive advantage, to you or to anyone else on the offense?
No. Brady was on the record in the appeals saying that he didn't notice a difference in the footballs from the first and second half against the Colts in the AFC Championship game, which was a greater difference than the 12.5 PSI limit and the supposed average of the footballs at halftime.
Q: After halftime, did the balls feel any different to you than they did in the first half of the game?
• How do you explain the Patriots' fumble rate, which some claim is unrealistically low? Is that simply a bizarre coincidence?
This is total horse manure and a blatant misrepresentation (and misunderstanding) of statistics.
• If you had no general awareness of any of this, do you feel like Bill Belichick pushed you under the bus during his January press conference? Were you hurt by this? Did it impact your relationship with him?
This is a legitimate question and would be worth a response. If you want to understand Belichick and Brady's relation, read an excerpt from Gary Myer's book that covers Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.
Surely they must have gone out for pizza and beers after a long evening meeting before they went home. "I don't think we ever have," Brady said. "We're around each other so much, whenever we have time, nothing ever comes of it."
The two Patriots don't have an out-of-work relationship, but it doesn't take much to understand that the two were very intentional about their approach. The ESPN Outside the Lines article clearly showed that the league was trying to slam Belichick for another transgression, so it's no shock that Belichick wanted to distance himself as early as possible.
Brady addressed the locker room and assured Belichick that he had done nothing wrong with the footballs immediately after the accusations. There was a clear open discussion behind the scenes and there was no aspect of Belichick pushing Brady under the bus. The Wells Report supports this, too (emphasis added):
Belichick asked Brady directly whether he had any knowledge about any of the issues raised by the press since the AFC Championship Game. According to Belichick, Brady said ‘absolutely not.' Belichick stated that he then asked if Brady or anyone Brady knew had tampered with or in any way altered the footballs. Brady again denied any knowledge or involvement.
Belichick recalled that Brady also explained that once he inspects and approves game balls, those balls are exactly as he likes them and that he would not want anyone to do anything to them after that point. Belichick believed Brady. Belichick and Brady attended the team meeting, and Belichick told the team that there was ‘not one shred of truth' to the deflation allegations. When given the floor, Brady repeated what he had told Belichick about wanting game balls to be exactly as he approved them
Belichick actually threw his support behind Brady. So maybe Brady and Belichick won't be splitting a bucket of beer anytime soon, but they understand one another.
The GQ interview was an opportunity to shine a spotlight on the greatest quarterback in the history of football. They missed their chance.