A penny for your (real) thoughts, Tom Brady?
On the field, the New England Patriots quarterback looks poised to put up one of the best seasons of his legendary career. Brady has sliced and diced the three defenses he’s faced this year, and the 42-year-old is likely to have to shoulder the load even more in New England’s upcoming games with the running game going dormant while the injury list grows.
Luckily for Brady and the Patriots, they have the easiest schedule in the NFL this season and are five or six weeks from legitimate competition. In the meantime, they’ll do all the can to make sure they hit their offensive stride once the leaves have fallen, and will take all the help they can get in the process.
That’s why, even before Julian Edelman’s injury, you could see why the Patriots would be willing to throw Antonio Brown a life raft. Brady certainly seemed to be on board with the signing, according to Patriots owner Robert Kraft as relayed by NBC’s Al Michaels in Week 1.
There always was a risk the Brown experiment would go sideway for the Patriots. It did just that in the blink of an eye, with Brown being hit with rape allegations only days into his Patriots tenure. Brown’s run in New England lasted one game, with questionable text messages to a separate accuser apparently being his final straw in Foxboro.
Brady, who is more careful with his words in public than he is with the football on the gridiron, danced around the organization’s decision. On WEEI’s “The Greg Hill Show,” the quarterback deflected.
“I do have a lot of personal feelings, none of which I really care to share,” Brady said, saying nothing. “That is about it. It’s a difficult situation. That’s kind of how I feel.”
During his weekly Westwood One interview Monday night, Brady again took a passive (aggressive?) approach, making it very clear he doesn’t make roster decisions, nor is he part of the decision-making process.
“Well, I think there are always reports and speculations about a lot of things that I have said or have not said or been a part of,” Brady said, again leaving much to the imagination. “The reality is I don’t make any personnel decisions. I don’t decide to sign players. I don’t decide to trade them. I don’t decide to release them. I don’t decide to draft them. I don’t get asked, I show up and do my job. I’m an employee like everyone else.”
Reading between the lines, it sure feels like Kraft was the impetus for Brown’s release. According to NBC Sports Boston’s Tom E. Curran, there was a general consensus among the Patriots’ ownership and brain trust that Brown had to go following the text messages. But it certainly feels like Brady would have preferred the Patriots give Brown a little more slack on that understandably short leash — or even included him in the decision.
“Maybe one day I will be an owner,” Brady pondered on Westwood One, “and I can make all the decisions that I want, but I would probably have to play another 20 years in the NFL to be able to afford that.”
At this point, it’s easy to see why Brady’s public strategy is to skate his lane. Anything he says that even approaches controversial will make for headline news across the nation. Heck, Kraft’s loose lips served as a reminder of that just a couple weeks ago.
“Well, that was supposed to be a private conversation,” he said of the Michaels report, “but one thing I’ve learned over 20 years of playing football is I can control what I can control.”
Behind the scenes, though, it sure sounds like Brady isn’t thrilled about how the Brown situation went down.
“When Antonio Brown went out the door, Tom Brady — who wanted Antonio Brown here — who really doesn’t ask for much I’ve been told, who really just goes along and takes what’s given to him, he wasn’t that psyched,” Curran said Tuesday on his “Patriots Talk” podcast. “Again, I don’t know if he registered an opinion as to whether or not Antonio Brown only had himself to blame, but he was happier when Antonio Brown was here than he is now that he’s gone.”
That’s an interesting thought for someone like Brady, who said Monday he believes “positivity and optimism can overcome a lot of things.” He must be working overtime lately in that regard if we’re to believe Curran — maybe that explains the Instagram “likes.”
What makes all of this even more intriguing (at least to those of who are unapologetically interested by more than just the football game itself) is that Brady has been hinting at least some discontent since the summer.
“Have I earned (an extension)? I don’t know, that’s up for talk show debate,” Brady joked at training camp in late July. “What do you guys think? Should we take a poll? Talk to Mr. Kraft, come on.”
Then, after getting a “new” contract a week later, Brady was quick to point out the deal gives him security “for this year,” saying it all “is what it is,” with a subtle nod toward head coach Bill Belichick. Then there was the whole business of his house being on the market and so on and so forth. And if we really want to get nuts, Brady’s quote Monday night — about having to play another 20 years to be able to afford an NFL team — could be seen as a slight reference to the contract. Maybe.
But, like Brady said, there will always be speculation about what he says and doesn’t say. He’s partially to blame for that, as understandable as it might be.
At this point, we’re just spit-balling. For some of us, it’s far more entertaining than what’s happened on the football field to this point. And if you think this is going to affect Brady’s play in any way, you haven’t been watching for the last 20 years.
But it would be nice to know what he’s really thinking. Maybe someday.