PR: Why Can’t the NFL Stay Out of the Spotlight?

With the 2015-2016 NFL season quickly approaching, now is an appropriate time to discuss Tom Brady and the “Deflategate” incident. You know, the incident ESPN fits between Tim Tebow sightings and LeBron James daily itinerary updates?

If you don’t know, here is what happened. Tom Brady, the quarterback for the New England Patriots (who are also the 2015 Super Bowl champions), has been given a four game suspension for the new season. The reason? He allegedly knew that footballs being used by his team in the AFC Championship game were underinflated.

An appeal of his suspension has been denied the NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, mainly because of new information released: Tom Brady destroyed his old Samsung phone, which he used during the time of the “deflategate.” This phone had over 10,000 text messages that were speculated to be about deflating the footballs.

The NFL can’t seem to stay out of the media and it is only getting worse. If his appeal was granted or even a reduction of the suspension was made, we all would have been able to move on from this.

Instead, Goodell has decided to uphold the suspension and now Brady is taking his case to federal court. With this move, media attention will (annoyingly) last much longer than it originally should have.

What Should Tom Brady Do?

He has already done everything he needs to do. Brady took to Facebook and released his own statement about the issue and handled it well from a public relations angle. He said all the right things in an appropriate and mature manner.

He addressed that neither he nor anyone in the Patriots organization did anything wrong. He also discussed the cell phone issue. He mentioned that he didn’t take any actions regarding his phone or the switch he made to Apple, until after his attorneys told the NFL that his phone was not to be investigated under any circumstances.

He covered it all.

What Should the NFL Do?

The NFL is now faced with an even bigger issue than the allegations. Going up against Tom Brady in court will result with more negative attention from the media. It would be in the NFL’s best interest to settle (even a federal judge reviewing this urged settlement) this before the court date. Offering Brady at least a reduced suspension would look somewhat better and they could probably negotiate with him.

If the NFL doesn’t want to settle, it needs to handle this properly to not add more damage. For instance, they need to stay ahead of Brady and the Patriots in messaging and communicating with the public.

No matter what the outcome is, the organization needs to explain how important honesty and integrity is when playing the game and how serious they are when it comes to speculations of cheating in their league.   

Tom Brady has set out for retribution. The NFL has set out to retain order. Who will win this matchup? For now we will have to wait to see.