I am the rare Patriots fanatic that doesn’t love Tom Brady.
I find his toothy model smile more like a smirk. I interpret his head down on the sideline to be sulking, rather than studying the video of the previous play. His insular life is on view yet I judge him for protecting his privacy.
His teammates love him. The members of the Pikes Peak Pats fan club adore him. The Facebook group New England Patriots Nation to a man (and woman) would blow him given the chance.
I know my team would not be where it is without the chip on his shoulder than saps away my sympathy. I know he was drafted in the 24th round, co-parents across the country and has to juggle an impossible schedule with his super model (soon to be ex?) wife. But he has always seemed to me as smarmy as he is arm-y. (QB reference, not military.) I love me some Gronk with his lumphead enthusiasm. Some Edelman whose bar mitzvah I attended at a preseason game almost a decade ago. Whichever tiny third down running back they have squirting impossibly though whatever tiny hole the average Offensive line has managed to open. Tom Brady and his TB12 brand seems both defensive and self-righteous. He seemingly mocked injured players by accusing them of improper stretching and inadequate ingestion of avocado ice cream.
Then came deflategate.
It feels ubiquitous, I’m shocked wordpress doesn’t recognize it as a word. (Then again wordpress doesn’t recognize wordpress as a word either. WordPress. (Ah, it just required proper respect as a proper noun.)
Deflategate. (still not a word)
Nobody knows what happened to Tom’s balls on the game field. They might have been a tad low in the AFC championship game but they sure as shit showed up in court this week in all of their glory.
After a few missteps in the early days of the scandal when Tom seemed unable to grasp the lengths to which the NFL would go to tarnish his reputation using no proof and following no rules Tom settled down and kept his mouth shut as he spent 7 months being degraded and treated unfairly. He kept his head down in his playbook and his arms open to his teammates if not his new media detractors. He seemed aware that both his behavior and his level of participation would impact many players after him. Sure he was looking out for himself and his own legacy, but he was also clearly working in the interest of the NFL Players Association. When he did speak through his representatives he stressed that this was not his fight alone.
The bullshit that was the NFL accusation, investigation, decision and appeal are behind him. The judge found in his favor this morning.
So Tom will be under center next week. Where he is at his best. Another Superbowl banner will be raised as he continues his football legacy. He will do so with an additional chip on his shoulder, an increased focus on his game, and one new fan, who has found appreciation for him as a man, rather than just an arm.
Post post script:
Despite word that the Patriots organization send the entire first string offense home instead of having high paid bench warmers for the fourth pre season game I was annoyed at Brady. Perhaps it was a decision from higher up, but I thought he should be there for his team on fake game day, even if it took the media spotlight away from the gridiron warriors who were on the bubble. It echoed Commissioner Goodell’s choice earlier in the day to skip the season opener next week in Foxboro. He wanted to keep the conversation focused on football rather than footballs. Sounds good, but he probably just didn’t have the balls to show. Brady should have been there. We saw Gronk, Edelman, Amendola and more make the choice to stay and cheer on their teamates. Brady should have been beside them.