The Super Bowl has produced a number of memorable halftime shows over the years. However, there aren’t many performances that are seared in the mind of viewers quite like what unfolded at The Big Game in 2004.
The Patriots were sporting a 14-10 lead over the Panthers when they headed into the locker room midway through Super Bowl XXXVIII before Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake took to the stage at Reliant Stadium.
However, that performance was derailed when Jackson fell victim to the infamous snafu that Timberlake would eventually describe as a “wardrobe malfunction” (although one of the stylists behind her outfit has claimed things panned out exactly as intended).
That fateful moment was witnessed by more than 140 million viewers, but there were some people in the stadium who didn’t witness what went down—including Tom Brady, who was too busy gearing up for the second half to pay attention to what transpired at midfield.
The legendary quarterback reflected on the fallout of what was dubbed “Nipplegate” during a recent episode of the Let’s Go! podcast where he recalled being hounded by reporters who attempted to get his perspective on an incident he hadn’t even witnessed, saying:
“They were asking me about that, and I couldn’t even understand what they were telling me about.
They were like, ‘Did you see the halftime show?’ and I said, ‘Nah, I didn’t see anything.’ I was thinking about the game and was trying to figure out halftime adjustments.”
However, Brady did have the chance to share his thoughts on the matter close to two decades later, and he argued it might’ve actually been beneficial for the NFL in the long run:
“I think, in the end, it was probably a good thing for the NFL because everyone got to talk about it, and it was just more publicity and more publicity for halftime shows.
Is any publicity bad publicity? That’s what they say. So, who knows?”
That take didn’t sit well with more than a few people who called out Brady for ignoring the fairly well-documented emotional toll it took on Jackson, who had her career derailed and was subjected to a deluge of hateful criticism.
Janet Jackson faced public humiliation and outright misogynoir resulting in her getting blacklisted by the former CEO of CBS, but Tom Brady thinks all of that was ok because all publicity is good publicity. Sick. https://t.co/1kcerS34Wc
— 𝙱𝚎𝚌𝚌𝚊. (@MJFINESSELOVER) February 14, 2023
????? He should be ashamed for treating Janet’s trauma like that
— Chris•tine | #SaveGentlemanJack (@alligatortearsq) February 14, 2023
If you're Janet Jackson, then yes, this was very bad publicity. I know you got paid to get hit in the head repeatedly for like 50 years, but c'mon, Brady. https://t.co/stttKupyMa
— Tamir Shimshoni (@TShimshoni) February 14, 2023
You can certainly chalk those reactions up to the Internet Hate Machine doing what it does best, although it’s also pretty easy to see where those critics are coming from.