What Tom Brady Can Teach Us

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As a former sports columnist I could not resist the opportunity opine on the Tom Brady air affair.  It is germane to this space because it transcends sports.  It is an opportunity to talk about something much more important: integrity, transparency, and truth.

If there has not yet been a time, I assure you there will come a time when your actions – or the actions of your organization – will come in to question.  Some of the most valuable time I have is spent advising clients who have found themselves in such situations.

So what can Brady teach us on the matter?  Well, thankfully we can learn from bad examples, because as gifted as the fellow is at handling a football, he is also an abject lesson on how NOT to handle a mistake.  How do I know this?

Brady parlayed a $25,000 fine into a $25,000,000-plus blunder.  Want to check my math?  Go ahead. In fact, let’s do it together.

If Tom had simply said in his first presser that he likes the footballs a little on the squishy side and that apparently things had crossed a line.  If he had apologized to the NFL to football fans everywhere, and fallen on the pointy Lombardi Trophy with some style, the rule book indicates a $25,000 fine.  All would have been forgiven, or at least forgotten, because, after all, there was a little February football game to be played in Phoenix.

But Tom was by turns ignorant of and indignant on the issue, and instead threw two locker room assistants under the team bus. He leaned into and clung onto his away-jersey lie until he may have actually believed it.  He thumbed both his nose and his cell phone at Roger Goodell, withholding information (presumably incriminating), and daring the commish to bench the game’s biggest star.

So Tom has ended up costing himself $2,000,000, his team $1,000,000, plus a projected  $25,000,000 more in the loss of future draft picks and damage to the brand.  (Deflatriots, anyone?)  And as long as we’re on the subject of brand damage, can you hear that sound? Could it be the Hall of Fame (not) calling?

We can and should learn from this, and that includes No. 12.  When you face a crisis of your own, remember the three words Tom apparently forgot: integrity, transparency, and truth.  They beat an airtight alibi any day of the week.

And twice on Sunday.

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