What items may be on Tom Brady’s birthday wish list?
What do you get for the iconic, debonair, globe-trotting franchise quarterback who has it all?
Patriots QB Tom Brady can’t be an easy guy to shop for when it comes to birthday gifts. In case you were unaware of the significance of Aug. 3, it’s Brady’s birthday. If you remember his rise in 2001 it’s hard to believe, but Brady turns 41 on Friday.
Every birthday Brady spends in a Patriots uniform is cause for gluten-free cake and avocado ice cream and celebration. If Aug. 3 isn’t a holy day around here it should at least be a Massachusetts holiday like Patriots’ Day. The Revolutionary War ushered in a new era in New England, so did Brady bursting onto the scene to change football fortunes in Foxborough.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked Monday whether he would get the greatest quarterback of all time a birthday gift. He said he would come up with something for Brady. We’re here to help, Bill. With a guy like Brady, who doesn’t lack for material possessions, you have to get creative. So, maybe pledging to send him congratulatory texts after every win this season like you reportedly did for former Patriots backup QB Jimmy Garoppolo after you traded Jimmy G to San Francisco would work. How about pledging to try the TB12 Method? Or writing Brady a note that gets him out of next year’s Met Gala because of a really important “team meeting” with mandatory attendance.
Here are a few more items that might be on Brady’s birthday list:
1. A more reliable receiving corps. The Patriots took a step in this direction on Thursday with the signing of wide receiver Eric Decker. Still, with Julian Edelman’s PED suspension rendering him unavailable for the first four games of the season, this could be Brady’s least-accomplished and most-unproven group of receivers since the 2013 season. That year the Patriots tried to integrate three rookie receivers — Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins, and Josh Boyce — into the mix, Danny Amendola was a first-year Patriot trying to earn Brady’s trust, and the team was forced to resort to concussion-riddled receiver Austin Collie in the AFC Championship game. The Patriots lost that game as Brady walked into a gunslingers’ duel in Denver with Peyton Manning armed with a squirt gun offense.
Unless the healing waters of Lourdes miraculously fix the perpetually injured Malcolm Mitchell, Brady will enter this season opener with one available wide receiver who has caught a touchdown pass from him, Chris Hogan.
The Patriots appear to have big plans for Kenny Britt, who hasn’t practiced yet during training camp after injuring a hamstring during June’s minicamp. Return specialist Cordarrelle Patterson has flashed as a receiver in camp but is known for less-reliable routes than Google Maps.
With the benefit of a full offseason to digest the offense, speedster Phillip Dorsett has impressed. But it was this time last year that Brandin Cooks was tearing up training camp, and Cooks, despite 1,082 receiving yards last season, never fully acclimated to the Patriots’ passing attack. Now, he’s gone.
2. A new contract. If the Patriots can’t make Brady’s job easier with a better collection of receivers, at least they can pay him more for doing what he has done for most of his Patriots career — compensating for and overcoming the team’s roster shortcomings. Brady has two years left on his contract. It carries an average annual value ($15 million) that’s half of the highest-paid quarterback by AAV in the league, Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, who signed a five-year, $150 million contract in May. There are 21 quarterbacks with contracts that currently carry a higher AAV than Brady’s deal, which is up after 2019, including Browns QB Tyrod Taylor ($15.25 million).
Taylor will make $16 million in 2018 between his base salary and a $6 million roster bonus. Brady is on the books to make $15 million, a $14 million fully guaranteed base salary and a total of $1 million in per-game roster bonuses ($62,500 for each game on the 46-man active roster). Traditionally, Brady’s contract gets extended with two seasons remaining on it. Brady doesn’t need the dough, but he definitely deserves more respect in his paycheck.
3. An explanation for why Malcolm Butler didn’t play a single defensive snap in Super Bowl LII. A justification for one of the most baffling decisions of Belichick’s tenure would really be a gift to us all. Belichick can just whisper it in Brady’s ear while handing him a birthday card. Belichick can continue to stonewall the fans and the media on the Butler affair, but the other half of arguably the most illustrious partnership in pro football history deserves an answer as to why his record-setting 505-yard passing performance was wasted.
It’s like a breakup where the dumper refuses to provide an explanation to the dumped. Brady should know why Butler never saw the field on defense even as the Eagles piled up 538 yards, the most by an opponent against the Patriots since Belichick became coach in 2000, and scored on their final five possessions.
4. The restoration of Alex Guerrero’s previous Patriots privileges. Tom Terrific would really appreciate it if Guerrero, his body coach/business partner, could return to flying on the team plane and being on the sidelines. The G.O.A.T. would probably be giddy if he could get his rubdown before home games in one of the massage rooms off the Patriots’ locker room, instead of in his luxury suite next to the Sterno cans and chafing dishes. It would be good for Brady’s brand and business if Guerrero could resume treating other Patriots at Gillette Stadium, instead of at the TB12 Sports Therapy Center. Not only would it attenuate any lingering tension between Brady and Belichick, but it would send a message that the Patriots think blaming Guerrero for Edelman’s PED suspension is as ridiculous as Brady does.
5. The “Patriot of the Week” award. Even if this award doesn’t actually exist, Belichick should create one and give it to Brady. In his prescient story about discord between Brady and Belichick, ESPN’s Seth Wickersham wrote that Brady was miffed that Belichick hadn’t given him this honor last season. In gift-giving, it’s the thought that counts. As we know from the “Tom vs Time” docu-series, Brady would like to feel more appreciated at work. Any expression of positivity and gratitude from Belichick toward Brady would be well-received.
6. A sixth Super Bowl ring. This is the gift that Brady really wants. It will have to wait until February.
Happy Birthday, Tom. Here’s wishing you peace, happiness, health, and of course pliability.