Internet reacts to unflattering Brady sketch

Tom Brady is no stranger to having his picture splashed across TV, newspapers, magazines, or the Internet.

Often these images depict his on-field exploits or his off-field endorsements. Most recently, though, they’ve depicted his involvement in meetings regarding “Deflategate.” One image in particular, released on Wednesday, has caused quite a stir on websites and social media for its “unique” representation of the four-time Super Bowl champion.

A courtroom sketch of proceedings on “Deflategate” from a New York City federal courtroom drew heavy criticism of the sketch artist, and the image became a viral sensation and the source of countless memes, from E.T., to Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.”

But as Northeastern School of Law professor Daniel Medwed noted, accurate renderings of individuals’ facial features are not the main goal of courtroom sketches. “These sketches are done really fast, and the artist’s job is to capture the gist of the scene as quickly and accurately as possible,” Medwed said. “They are usually more thematic.”

Although the idea of a courtroom artist seems archaic, Medwed explained that their sketches sometimes represent the only visual rendering of courtroom scenes. “One of the lingering values of the sketch—why it continues to resonate—is because there aren’t always cameras and the sketch becomes a critical part of telling the story,” he said. “And in this case clearly the artist saw a somber Tom Brady.”

The veteran artist, Jane Rosenberg, has worked as a courtroom sketch artist for many years, according to her website. She told reports on Wednesday that she was sorry for “for not making him as good-looking as he is.”

Rosenberg has drawn numerous public figures in court, including Robert De Niro, Martha Stewart, and Woody Allen.

“This has to be the most attention any courtroom sketch artist has ever gotten recently,” Medwed said.