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Mark Brunell explains why he got choked up over Tom Brady’s Deflategate presser


One of the more bizarre events to emerge out of the New England Patriots’ “Deflategate” scandal last week didn’t even involve any of alleged involved actors in the exceedingly overwrought and intensely covered drama. Instead, it was related to the reaction of a person who was supposed to provide reasoned, impartial and objective analysis of the controversy.

Mark Brunell, the former NFL quarterback turned ESPN analyst, somewhat made himself a part of the story due to his overemotional reaction to Tom Brady’s press conference regarding the scandal. The spectacle in a way was somewhat hard to watch but it was hard to look away, albeit not in the awkwardly amusing way in which the supercut video of Brady talking about balls entertained the masses.

In fact, Brunell appeared so choked up while providing commentary immediately following the media session that he seemed on the verge of tears.

“I did not believe what Tom Brady had to say,” said Brunell during a segment that aired Thursday on ESPN’s “NFL Live.” “Those balls were deflated. Somebody had to do it. And I don’t believe there is an equipment manager in the NFL that would on his own initiative deflate a ball without the starting quarterback’s approval.”

Brunell, seemingly much more composed when compared to his emotional on-air reaction, explained to Sports Illustrated’s Richard Deitsch why he got so choked up during his immediate response to Brady’s words.

“One was surprise,” Brunell told SI. “I didn’t expect Tom to say that. Two, I guess I was disappointed. I truly expected him to take some of the blame. I expected him say, “You know what? I am on the record that I like the balls deflated, and that is my preference. I asked the equipment guys if we could get it to that point and I didn’t realize they would be deflated that much. I made a mistake. I won’t let it happen again. Hopefully, we can go forward, but this is something certainly going forward, I’ll make sure we are within the league limit on that footballs.” That’s what I thought he would say but it just didn’t happen.”

Brunell said when taking into account everything Brady said during his press conference, he was left suspecting that too much was left unsaid.

“It just doesn’t add up to me,” he added. “The balls were deflated and in my experience with equipment guys is they have one job: Take care of the personal preferences of each player, especially the quarterback. It just didn’t add up and that’s why I was surprised.”

Despite the backlash and criticism, Brunell, who joined ESPN in 2013, stands by his response and how he presented it. In fact, even though a lot of the comments he heard were critical, some people backed him up for providing an unfiltered, emotional take. It even had a positive effect on his social media presence.

“I added close to 1,000 followers on my Twitter account and heard a lot worse things than ‘You’re an idiot.’ Listen, that’s just part of the job. This is new territory for me. But as an analyst, I have to be honest and I have to call it like I see it. That’s really the job.”