A strong quarterback is supposed to be evasive during a game, but it's also trait that serves players equally well when they're off the field, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Sport Communication.
Tom Brady's repeated avoidance of questions during a "Deflategate" news conference held on Jan. 22, 2015, often saying "I don't know" or "I have no idea," was widely panned by critics and mocked by comedians, but it earned him goodwill, at least among fans participating in an Ohio State University study.
Deflategate refers to the controversy surrounding the New England Patriots' victory over the Indianapolis Colts in the 2015 AFC Championship game allegedly credited in part to an advantage gained by deliberately deflated balls.
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For the study, author David Clementson wondered how Brady's response to his supposed involvement in the controversy, equivocating and avoiding direct answers while fielding tough questions from the press, hurt the player's standing with fans.
To find that out, Clementson recruited 105 college students and showed them one of two versions of the press conference, one in which responses like "I don't know" and other equivocations were included and one without these phrases.
To his surprise, Clementson found that the study participants who watched the edited version thought Brady was more evasive. Those who saw him saying "I don't know" or its equivalent were more satisfied with his responses and ultimately held Brady in higher esteem.
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