Why Tom Brady’s ESPN appearance adds credibility to Gisele’s concussion claims

Last week’s E:60 featured a much-publicized piece on Tom Brady’s recent trip to China and Japan, a segment billed as: “Brady as you’ve never see him before.”

What most people gleaned from the interview was this exchange between Brady and reporter Kevin Negandhi regarding Gisele’s nonchalant comments to CBS that her husband suffered a concussion last year.

Negandhi: “[Gisele] sees the hits, she was vocal about that, most recently on CBS about the concussions, how much do you talk to her about those hits that you take?”

Brady: “She’s there every day. I mean, we go to bed in the same bed every night, so I think she knows when I’m sore, she knows when I’m tired, she knows when I get hit. We drive home together [from games]. But, she also knows how well I take care of myself. She’s a very concerned wife and very loving.

Brady’s ambiguous response made the next question all the more obvious.


Curiously, it went unasked. Curiously, Brady while answering the only question on the topic neglected to say anything remotely resembling, ‘By the way, I, in fact, did not suffer a concussion last year. End of story’ In fact, Brady’s depiction of his closeness to his wife seems to negate any claim that Gisele would have been in the dark about whether a “hit” could have resulted in a serious head injury.

Watching the full segment only lends more credence to the notion that Gisele might have been telling the truth.

The ESPN piece is essentially a beautifully filmed Under Armor spot with some gratuitous Brady goodness thrown in for gooey sake. He throws a football to his adorable son at the Great Wall, tries his hand at sumo wrestling and reflects on his dramatic Super Bowl triumph. (In case you didn’t know, they came back from a 28-3 deficit.). In one legitimately poignant moment, Brady talked about his mother’s improved health – she is done with treatments and has received a positive prognosis, he beamed. And, of course, the big Gisele question.

But this was clearly an Under Armor production. E:60 co-anchor Jeremy Schaap in both the lead-in and return from break literally mentions that Brady was on “goodwill tour for Under Armor” as if it were mandated. In between are scenic shots of Under Armor/TB12 flags strewn about Beijing, Brady’s football clinic at a Japanese stadium that looks like Under Armor owns the naming rights and a quick infomercial for Brady’s Under Armor pajamas to remind us that $99 pajamas promising to increase performance actually exist.

As a media member (and former ESPN booker), I understand the promotion drill. Company offers big name to media outlet if said outlet agrees to mention company. It happens all the time on every level and is a relevant part of the media ecosystem. Athlete gets paid. Company gets promotion. Media outlet gets access to athlete they might not otherwise get on their own. Some of out greatest sound bites and bits of breaking news have come from these types of interviews.

Clearly there was some arrangement with ESPN and Under Armor for the Brady access. Fair enough. Where things get fishy is that based on the end product it smells like there were restrictions on the line of questioning. Or even worse, that the two parties knew they had to cover the concussion issue and concocted a premeditated question and non-answer. I don’t know this for a fact but it’s implausible to believe that a journalist of Negandhi’s caliber on ESPN’s most journalism-centric show would simply neglect to ask Brady the ten million dollar question.

After Kaepernick, Gisele’s concussion comment has arguably been the offseason’s biggest storyline. In the days following her CBS interview, the NFL released the following statement:

“We have reviewed all reports relating to Tom Brady from the unaffiliated neurotrauma consultants and certified athletic trainer spotters who worked at Patriots’ home and away 2016 season games as well as club injury reports that were sent to the league office.

There are no records that indicate that Mr. Brady suffered a head injury or concussion, or exhibited or complained of concussion symptoms. Today we have been in contact with the NFLPA and will work together to gather more information from the club’s medical staff and Mr. Brady. The health and safety of our players is our foremost priority and we want to ensure that all our players have and continue to receive the best care possible.”

Today a league source confirmed to TFG that two months later the Tom Brady concussion inquiry is still under review.

This does not mean Brady suffered a concussion – head trauma and player safety is at the forefront of NFL issues and the league can’t afford to get burned on this one. But if he didn’t suffer a concussion, why not look into those shiny ESPN cameras and just say so? Or post a statement on social media? Or ask Gisele to clear the record? Anything.

In my various booking experiences I’ve encountered companies, agents and teams trying to place restrictions on the line of questioning. These requests are almost always for a reason, often so said athlete doesn’t dig a deeper hole. Thus the greatest player in the NFL unwilling to answer whether or not he suffered a concussion or even unwilling to simply say “I’ll talk about it when the NFL investigation is concluded” is very strange and begs a whole new host of questions. Like did the Patriots join the Browns (Colt McCoy) and Rams (Case Keenum) in eschewing the league’s concussion protocol?