The White House had a snappy response on Friday when asked for President Barack Obama’s reaction to the New England Patriots’ “deflate-gate” scandal.
Press secretary Josh Earnest said he had not spoken to Obama about the controversy. However, he delivered a zinger about quarterback Tom Brady’s awkward press conference the day before.
“For years it has been clear that there is no risk that I would take Tom Brady’s job as quarterback of the New England Patriots,” Earnest said. “But I can tell you that, as of today, it is pretty clear that there is no risk of him taking my job, either.”
The burn, flagged by Mediaite, resulted in an audible reaction from several members of the White House press corps.
On Friday, Brady gave a lengthy press conference during which he repeatedly used the word “balls” while denying culpability for the scandal. The controversy began after the Patriots were found to have used footballs that were improperly inflated below league requirements during their AFC championship victory over the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday — making the footballs easier to catch and throw in the rain.
At one point in the Brady press conference, the quarterback even compared the situation to the violent jihadist group Islamic State, also known as ISIS.
“We’re going to be fine. This isn’t ISIS,” Brady said. “You know, no one’s dying.”
Additionally, Brady failed to convince many observers that he was not involved in deflating the footballs. In an ESPN panel immediately after Thursday’s press conference, former NFL players Mark Brunell, Jerome Bettis, and Brian Dawkins all said they didn’t buy Brady’s denials.
“I did not believe what Tom had to say. Those balls were deflated. Somebody had to do it, and I don’t believe there’s an equipment manager in the NFL who, on his own initiative, would deflate a ball without his starting quarterback’s approval,” Brunell said.
“It’s unbelievable,” he said. “Tom Brady says he does not know. [Head coach] Bill Belichick says he does not know. So the equipment manager is getting thrown under the bus. Now he’s the guy? Now he’s the one responsible? He took it upon himself to doctor up the balls when nobody else knew about them?”
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