We’re in a small auditorium at New England Patriots training camp in Foxborough, Mass. Tom Brady sits at a rostrum, the air conditioning unit gently toussling his otherwise-perfect hair. Behind Brady is a screen printed with little Patriots helmets, Vince Lombardi Trophies and heavenly cherubim. Before him is a skinny microphone flanked by plastic bottles of Gatorade.
Let’s start the press conference.
REPORTER: Tom, how do you respond to accusations that you shot Cecil the Lion, one of Zimbabwe’s most cherished icons?
BRADY: I am stunned at these allegations, and I’m confident that when the evidence is in, you will see this is all a big mistake or, more likely, a vast conspiracy cooked up by people jealous of my passing yardage.
REPORTER: Tom, did you not just return from an African safari, and did you not post pictures on social media of the many animals you killed – hippos, giraffes, cape buffalo, white rhinos, hyenas…?
BRADY: If any animals did die, which would be unfortunate, it wasn’t really my fault. Yes, I may have pulled the trigger, but I had no idea there happened to be a wild animal in front of me, or that the gun my guide handed me was loaded, or that guns even do that sort of explode-y thing.
REPORTER: Tom, that looks like a leopard pelt you are wearing right now.
BRADY: I believe it’s faux leopard. Gisele brought it home from Frankfurt.
REPORTER: It has a bullet hole in it.
BRADY: Faux bullet hole. Karl Lagerfeld’s new Live Dangerously line. Releases in October!
REPORTER WEARING PATRIOTS CAP AND SHIRT: That’s so cool, Tommy! Can I touch it?
REPORTER NOT WEARING PATRIOTS MERCHANDISE: Tom, why are the palms of your hands black, and why do they smell of gunpowder?
BRADY: That’s just what happens when you haven’t been throwing for a while, and then you get to training camp and start tossing a bunch of brand-new footballs properly inflated to approximately 12.5 pounds per square inch. A little of the new leather rubs off. We call it fairy dust.
REPORTER: But Tom, one of the local TV stations shot footage of your locker here at camp, and there were 23 impala horns on the shelves, next to your award-winning cologne.
BRADY: Herbal supplements, totally legal. Present from Ray Lewis.
REPORTER: Tom, it has been reported that you have photos on your phone of Cecil the Lion, just before and just after he was murdered in cold blood. Would you care to show us the phone?
BRADY: I would really like to, but it is damaged.
REPORTER: Tom, you’re sitting right in front of us, hitting the phone with the heel of your exquisite Italian shoe and smashing it into pieces.
BRADY: Well, it was already broken. I’m just trying to make it easier to recycle, because recycling is really important.
At this point, a crimson-faced Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots, bustles through the crowd and takes a seat next to Brady.
KRAFT: This press conference is a mockery of journalism! It’s obvious that everyone is out to get us! There isn’t one shred of evidence linking my son, I mean my quarterback, to the death of Cecil the Lion. I mean, where’s the smoking gun?!
REPORTER: Mr. Kraft, Tom is holding a high-powered rifle. And smoke is wafting from the barrel.
KRAFT: But where is the metaphorical smoking gun? There isn’t one! They’re out to get us!
Suddenly, the door of the auditorium bursts open, and dozens of militant Patriots fans storm the press conference. They are all wearing No. 12 jerseys and singing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” and they knock media members out of the way and hoist Brady onto their shoulders, carrying him from the room as he smiles and waves.
BRADY: See?! I told you I didn’t do it!