Tom Brady is an angry man. This is probably a good thing for the Patriots and Patriots fans.
No more Mr. Nice Guy. Brady is captain of the Revenge Tour, and he no longer cares about hurting anybody’s feelings. He’s not going to go out of his way to help, or be nice to folks who weren’t nice to him after the air was taken out of the balls last season. After Sunday’s 34-27 win in Indianapolis, Brady blew off NBC’s Michele Tafoya, then issued three terse answers when asked about keeping a souvenir football or two.
Q: “Did you keep the football after the game, and if so, I was curious what that meant to you and what made you want to keep that football?”
A: “I didn’t keep it.’’
Q: “I saw you kept two balls for a keepsake, one after LeGarrette Blount’s touchdown run, and then at the end of the game you put the football in your helmet. Why two footballs? Are you giving it to somebody else?”
A: “I didn’t keep them.’’
Q: “Are they going to somebody else?”
A: “I don’t know.’’
Brady has been brief and joyless in his mandated weekly and postgame sessions with folks who cover the Patriots. He is doing the minimum and nothing more. He will take a few questions, move his lips, then wrap up abruptly with, “Thanks, guys.’’
It doesn’t matter, of course. All that matters is what Brady does on the field and the results are thus far unimpeachable. Brady no longer has Randy Moss or a veteran line, but he is more precise than ever. He has one interception in five games and that was a ball that bounced off Julian Edelman. Not Tom’s fault.
Brady was clearly angry at the end of the game. A lot of that anger comes from his insistence on perfection. He can’t stand leaving points on the field. He knows that the Patriots’ offense could not shut the door Sunday night. They could not put the game away the way they wanted. Like coach Bill Belichick, Brady wants to finish strong every week. When he doesn’t finish strong, he’s angry.
The most telling statement he made to the local media last week was an acknowledgment that “I’m human.’’
He’s human and the fallout from Deflategate has made him angry. After the AFC Championship game, Brady was hung out to dry by just about everyone except his dad.
First his coach said, “Ask Tom.’’ Then his owner, ever hungry to keep his seat at the NFL’s Big Boy table, played footsie with the Commish and the other owners and accepted the largest punishment in the history of the league. This made it open season on Tom, his legacy, his honor.
Then it was leaked that Brady destroyed his cellphone on the day he was called to testify before Ted Wells. When the starry-eyed judge ultimately lifted Brady’s suspension, the haters (a.k.a. “realists”) were quick to remind everyone that Brady was not cleared of guilt as much as he was allowed back on the field because of the bungled procedures by the league.
Tom is human so he’s no doubt wounded that so many were quick to brand him as a liar and a cheater. Longtime Patriot watchers know that Brady’s greatness and his honors are owed to talent, hard work, and a magical coach-player relationship unseen since Messrs. Auerbach and Russell ruled the basketball world.
We don’t really know Tom. But we have seen him grow and mature in his 16 seasons in Foxborough. We have seen him cultivate and polish an image as a man of wealth and taste. We have seen him marry a woman more wealthy and famous than himself. We have seen him applaud one president at a State of the Union address, then snub another president when the Patriots were invited to the White House. We have seen him demonstrate more emotion and anger on the sideline.
Meanwhile, we are hearing him say less in almost every public forum.
This year, he’s done a couple of friendly sitdowns with former Patriot quarterback Scott Zolak on “Patriots All Access,” but that’s about it as far as television goes. On the radio side, Brady’s remained loyal to WEEI’s “Dennis & Callahan Show,” which promises to feature Tom again Tuesday at 9 a.m.
Last week’s Brady segment on WEEI was revealing, and at times, disturbing. Brady was neither terse nor angry. When effectively cornered by host Kirk Minihane regarding Brady’s disgraced training guru Alex Guerrero, Brady spoke passionately and at great length. Brady correctly reminded us that his good health and great play is the best advertisement for Guerrero’s alternative methods, but also sounded like a man who has come under the spell of manipulative forces. There was a Tim Thomas/Tom Cruise level of discovery in that interview that made some of us wonder who’s pulling the strings behind Brady’s iron curtain.
Brady’s personal health choices are his and his alone, and worthy of great respect, but he gets into a dangerous area when he promotes his body coach/business partner with statements such as, “What I want to provide to athletes — so much of it is being pro-active — not wanting to get sick, not wanting to get injured. Lifestyle choices are very important to your health and wellness.’’
Swell. But there’s a hint of blaming victims in all this. Let’s not suggest that everyone who gets cancer or concussed could have prevented it with better eating habits. Please don’t try telling us that “when you get hit the head,’’ you should ask yourself, “What have you done previously to try to prevent those things?’’
Brady is taunting the sports god when he suggests that avoiding NFL injuries is a “lifestyle choice.’’ What’s the magic potion that saves any quarterback from the Bernard Pollard hit?
Something tells me that the Patriots hierarchy is not pleased that Guerrero is traveling with the team and working with multiple players. It reminds me of a situation with Celtic scorer Scott Wedman and his personal trainer when the C’s played the Lakers in the epic 1984 NBA Finals. Wedman’s guy, Steve Krischel, was banned from the locker room after he worked on Robert Parish’s shoulder. (“I thought the guy was a plumber,’’ said Celtic trainer Ray Melchiorre.)
That’s not going to happen to Guerrero. The Patriots are going to let Brady do anything he wants. He’s the ticket to Super Bowl 50.
Tom can say whatever he wants. Or say nothing.
Terse or talkative, an angry Tom Brady is good for the business of winning another Super Bowl.