Reporters asked members of the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons a number of questions about Donald Trump and Roger Goodell during Monday's media availability.
But the NFL excluded those references from transcripts they released.
Reporters were certainly curious, given the nation’s political climate and the controversy over the suspension of Tom Brady for four games as a result of the “Deflategate” scandal, in which the league said he conspired to manipulate footballs to his advantage in a conference championship game two years ago.
Brady, Bill Belichick and the Patriots’ owner, Robert K. Kraft, also happen to be friends of the president, whose actions, including his temporary ban on refugees and restrictions on immigrants from some Muslim-majority countries, have been highly controversial.
Of the transcripts provided for the interviews with 26 of the Patriots players and coaches, the word “Trump” does not appear in any of them, and the word “president” appears only in reference to team presidents, despite reporters’ having asked about them. The word “Goodell” appears once.
Brady was asked about Trump three times and Goodell four times, and he sidestepped the questions each time.
“I’m not talking politics at all,” Brady said after being asked about his relationship with the president. When asked why, he added, “I just want to focus on the positive aspects of this game and my teammates and the reasons why we’re here.”
A spokesman for the N.F.L., Brian McCarthy, said the transcripts of the one-hour media sessions, which are typically compiled by public-relations staff from the teams involved, were not intended to be a complete account of the interviews.
The league has sanitized its Super Bowl transcripts in past years, too. Two years ago, for instance, the league’s transcript of interviews with the Seattle Seahawks’ outspoken cornerback, Richard Sherman, did not include his answers to questions about Kraft or about Goodell and his handling of the domestic violence case involving the Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice.