SAN FRANCISCO — The stories would have practically written themselves if the Patriots had been on to Santa Clara, Calif., and Super Bowl 50, instead of final destination Denver. Tom Brady returning to his Bay Area backyard to try to become the first quarterback to win five Super Bowls on the home field of the team he grew up rooting for as a child reads like a movie script.
It would have been a homecoming, a coronation, and Brady’s own brand of industrial Deflategate justice all rolled into one for Saint Thomas of San Mateo, the local boy made historically great.
Instead, Brady’s parents, Tom Brady Sr. and Galynn Brady, are in San Mateo, just 27 miles north of Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, going about their business in the shadow of Super Bowl 50 with the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell still casting a pall upon their family. They are anesthetized from the trappings of the Big Game. It might as well be in Grenada.
Brady Sr. joked that whether he watched Super Bowl 50 depended on how empty the golf courses would be this Sunday.
Brady Sr., a high-end estate planner and wealth manager, has spent the week in business meetings and out of the Super Bowl spirit. It’s a normal February week, but it has been anything but a normal year for the Bradys, with their son on the NFL’s most wanted list.
“It’s been a crazy, difficult year. It’s disappointing we didn’t cap it off in Santa Clara,” said Brady Sr.
Brady Sr. and his wife have lived the ups and downs of the Deflategate saga, which isn’t over. US District Judge Richard Berman vacated Brady’s four-game suspension in September, but the appeal hearing before the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit is set for March 3.
Like other Patriots fans, Brady Sr. would like to see the data the NFL compiled this season in select games where the league tested the air pressure of footballs at halftime and after the game.
Of course, that information will never see the light of day if it supports the Patriots’ contention that the Ideal Gas Law, not underling skullduggery, was responsible for the Patriots’ footballs falling below the acceptable 12.5 PSI level in the 2014 AFC Championship game.
Goodell said Tuesday on the “Rich Eisen Show” that the league never intended to try to conduct an experiment to determine how much natural deflation footballs suffer during a game.
“We do spot checks to prevent and make sure the clubs understand that we’re watching these issues,” said Goodell. “It wasn’t a research study. They simply were spot checks.”
Brady Sr. finds Goodell’s explanation and the league’s refusal thus far to release data that could exculpate his son frustrating.
“That’s laughable. It’s just laughable,” Brady Sr. said. “I don’t unfortunately think it was in the league’s best interest to release something that exonerated Tom. All the rest of it is nonsense. It’s air.”
As much as Deflategate has impugned the reputation of the Patriots and fueled the persecution complex of their fans, it has resonated with the Brady family on a much more personal level.
“When your kid suffers you suffer with your kid, when your kid breaks his leg, you hurt, when your kid is getting destroyed because he is a liar and a cheat ostensibly, it hurts,” said Brady Sr.
The Bradys don’t have a Nixonian enemies list, like the Patriots. But Goodell might be a four-letter word in the Brady household.
“My wife and I have decided as much as it affected us last year, we’re not going to let it affect us moving forward,” said Brady Sr. “We’re trying to forgive an obvious plastering of our son’s reputation. We’re trying to say, you know what, forgive and forget. As a Christian, it is eating me up inside. It ate my wife up. It’s hard to do. It’s easy to be bitter.”
The plan now is for the Bradys to skip town for Super Bowl 50. They’re going to make like Judge Berman and choose a vacation, heading to Palm Springs for some rest, relaxation, and golf.
Those plans could change though if their three-time Super Bowl MVP son decides he is going to show up for the NFL’s golden anniversary Super Bowl celebration.
Brady Sr. said that like everyone else, he and his wife are waiting to see if TB12 will show up at Super Bowl 50 to be honored at halftime as one of the 43 players to earn Super Bowl MVP honors. Brady can stand side by side with his boyhood idol, 49ers legend Joe Montana, as the only three-time Super Bowl MVPs.
“He said he would let us know soon. I have no idea whether he is going to do it or not do it,” said Brady Sr. “I didn’t know he was going to Michigan [for National Signing Day] until I read the paper.”
It’s good to know Brady is like most adult children, neglecting to share his busy schedule with his parents and waiting until the last minute to tell them he’s coming home.
History has Brady and Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning as adversaries, but Brady has said they will be lifelong friends.
Brady Sr. said he hopes people don’t jump to conclusions with the HGH allegations against Manning the same way they did with his Deflategate and his son.
“If Peyton wins this thing that’s great. He’s going out on top,” said Brady Sr. “It bothers me that people are trying to pile on Peyton Manning. Until there is hard evidence don’t do to Peyton what they did to Tommy last year, pile on without proof and evidence. It’s unjustified.”
This Super Bowl Sunday belongs to the Manning family. It could have been a momentous day for the Brady household, a dream brought full circle.
Instead, it’s just another day.
Christopher L. Gasper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @cgasper.