Statement Analysis®

The most accurate way of detecting deception

Deflategate


On January 18, 2015, the American Football Conference Championship Game was played in Foxborough, Massachusetts. The game featured the New England Patriots hosting the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots dominated the Colts winning 45-7. The victory allowed them to play in Super Bowl XLIX in Glendale, Arizona.

The NFL rules state that footballs are required to be inflated to a pressure between 12 1/2 and 13 1/2 pounds per square inch. Each team is allowed to use its own footballs while on offense. After the AFC Championship game, it was discovered that 11 of the footballs belonging to the Patriots were under-inflated by two pounds. A softer ball may give a team an advantage in throwing it and catching it especially in the cold New England weather. The incident became known as "Deflategate."

At a press conference on January 22, 2015, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady addressed what involvement he had if any in Deflategate.


Q. "When and how did you supposedly alter the balls?"

A. "I didn't, you know, have any, ah, you know I didn't alter the ball in any way."

Brady begins his answer with what appears is going to be a good denial; "I didn't." When people say, "I didn't" they are denying the act itself which is what we are looking for in a denial. This is in contrast to saying, "I wouldn't have done that" or "I couldn't have done that." The problem is Brady did not finish his denial; "I didn't, you know, have any, ah, you know." He didn't have any what? The logical assumption is that he was going to say, "I didn't have anything to do with altering the balls" or something to that effect. However, he stopped short of saying that so we cannot believe he did not have anything to do with the footballs being under-inflated.

Brady used the interjection "ah" which means he is pausing for time to think about what he is going to say.

Twice he used the phrase "you know." Some people have a habit of using this phrase. Others will use this phrase because they want us to assume what they are saying is the truth; "You know, I didn't alter the ball in any way." However, we do not know. We do not assume anything.

Tom Brady finished answering this question by stating, "You know, obviously I woke up Monday morning and answered a question on the radio about it. Um, that was the first I really heard of it."

He again used the phrase "you know." We do not know that Monday morning was the first time he heard of the footballs being under-inflated. We see similar language that he wants us to take for granted that he first found about the incident on Monday when he used the word "obviously." It is not obvious to us that Monday was when he was first aware of what happened.

He used the interjection "um" to pause and think about his answer.

In Statement Analysis, the shortest sentence is the best sentence. Extra words give us extra information. The word "really" is not needed. "That was the first I heard of it" is a better statement. Brady used the word "really" to bolster his statement but this word often weakens a statement. There are times when the word "really" adds to the statement. Saying, "That really hurts" is acceptable because there are different levels of pain. However, in Brady's statement, this word indicates Monday morning was not the first time he heard of it.


Q. "Is Tom Brady a cheater?"

"I don't believe so. I mean I feel like I've always played within the rules. I would never do anything to break the rules."

Brady was asked if he was a cheater. The best denial is to say, "No." Instead, Brady said, "I don't believe so." This means he is uncertain if he is a cheater. In my mind, a cheater is someone who knowingly does something wrong that gives him an advantage. If you unknowingly used illegal equipment, I would not view that person as being a cheater.

Brady then says, "I mean." This phrase indicates that what the person just previously said can be disregarded. The person is now going to clarify what he meant. However, Brady does not provide much clarification because he then states, "I feel like I've always played within the rules." The phrase, "I feel like" means he is not committed to the idea he always plays within the rules. Again, the shortest sentence is the best sentence; "I've always played within the rules."

He then states that he "would never do anything to break the rules." The word "would" means Brady is talking about the future. In the future, he would never break the rules. The word "never" when used in a denial is a weaker denial. Saying, "I didn't do anything to break the rules" is a much better denial.

Conclusion

Tom Brady gives some weak denials in this press conference. There was one denial he did not finish. He paused to think about what to say. He used non-committal language when he denied he was a cheater. Most likely he did not alter the footballs. However, he may have directed someone to under-inflate them or he knows who under-inflated them.

Update

On May 6, 2015, the NFL released their investigative report which stated, "Based on the evidence, we also have concluded that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls."




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