Instead, hours upon hours of airtime on talk radio is spent these
days debating whether or not the face of the franchise will show up or
hold out when the Patriots begin camp on July 29. With two sports radio
stations operating at full power these days, that time has only doubled.
all makes you wonder: Has the NFL offseason really gotten that
Are people these days really that disinterested in the 53-man
roster, the depth charts and the upcoming season? Or is it more a
question of the chicken or the egg? Who's really driving these
discussions and who's really asking the questions?
The answers may
not matter, because it seems like everyone is talking about it. But
they should stop.
Look, everyone knows that all too often, the
business aspect of sports rears its ugly head and ruins the spirit of
the game. Yet Tom Brady is under contract for the 2010 season. He has Wes
Welker working overtime to get healthy enough for the season, he
has Randy Moss ready to show what he can do in a contract year
and, most importantly, he has unfinished business.
In 2010, it's
naive to say that any athlete has an incredible sense of loyalty to a
team — the players are employees — but Brady may be as close as it
gets. He entered the organization as a somewhat-pudgy, mostly unknown quarterback. With
the support of Robert Kraft, and under the watchful eye of Bill
Belichick, he grew into one of the best quarterbacks in NFL
history. His legacy was secure at age 27, as was his place among
immortal athletes in New England sports history.
And he's going to
hold out for a long-term deal? It's just not going to happen.
there's a good chance Brady wants that long-term deal, but he knows how
things are done in Foxboro. He's seen Asante Samuel hold out for
a big-money deal, and he saw Asante Samuel leave town as soon as he
possibly could. He saw Richard Seymour hold out and eventually
saw Big Sey get shipped to Oakland about five seconds before the season
Brady also saw Vince Wilfork show patience, play out
the final year of his contract and eventually get rewarded with a
contract at fair market value. All along, Wilfork said he didn't want to
break the bank, he just wanted to get paid what he deserved. Wilfork
had a realistic, team-first attitude, and ultimately, Kraft proved that
such an approach is appreciated.
And if you had to say Tom Brady
was more like Wilfork or Samuel, which would you pick?
the talk won't cease until Brady shows up to camp. Even then, reporters
will hit him with contract questions every chance they get, and the
quarterback will politely decline comment. Such a response will be
interpreted a million different ways, and the talk will continue.
The fact is that most teams across the league aren't signing players to contracts right now. The labor situation looks grim, and owners and players alike don't know the future they're facing. Peyton Manning hasn't signed a new deal, but you can bet he'll be suiting up with a horseshoe on his helmet for the rest of his career. No first-round draft picks have been signed yet. The offseason transactions are simply progressing slowly, but chances are that all 32 teams didn't spend first-round draft picks on guys they weren't going to sign. Likewise, the Patriots will sign Brady.
now, it's a matter of listening to the speculation and the
sky-is-falling theories that get people riled up, but the longer it goes
on, the sillier it all seems. Tom Brady will be at training camp next
week. The story ends there.