Whatever you may think of Tom Brady now that he has officially announced his retirement from the NFL; whether you think of him as the GOAT (greatest of all time); or you believe off-field controversies like Deflategate and Spygate tarnished his (and the New England Patriots) image as the All-American boy next door; the one thing that is unassailable has been the joy that he has exhibited throughout his 22-year professional football career.
But it wasn’t just the joy he found for himself. It was his ability to precipitate the same feeling in his teammates, and their fans, and the concomitant competitive passions he aroused in his competitors, too. Didn’t matter which side of the ball you were on, the man was a force multiplier.
Even at age 44, after 22 competitive seasons in a brutally violent sport, Brady played with the unabashed joy of a 10-year-old out on an open field with his buddies, like Peter Pan in a helmet and pads.
And isn’t joy what makes sport such an important tool in teaching a proper way of living? Because it is in the doing alone that we discover the critical reward, not in the accolades or prizes that may come from it.
As runners, whether as freshmen on the high school cross-country team, or all the way to the Olympic level, it is the baseline joy of free flowing through space with a self-generated wind in our hair, that produces the passion that supports the commitment that overcomes the injuries that salves the losses and exhilarates us in our wins.
The question for Tom Brady now is, what else can elicit that same feeling?
Star date 18:20-1 – Maybe in the VFL, the Vulcan Football League, Coach Spock (Bill Belichick) would have traded 40 year-old quarterback Tom Brady and kept 20-something Jimmy Garoppolo without any questions or concerns. Black and white, Xs and Os, all very logical. But Mr. Spock is not the captain of this good ship Enterprise, the New England Patriots. The overly emotional James T. Kirk is. And that’s Robert Kraft, the team owner.
So logic notwithstanding, the owner made an emotional decision to keep his surrogate son Tom Brady, irrespective of his age and the wisdom of his HOF coach. Yes, Kraft seems to be saying, we may take a long term hit by keeping Brady and getting rid of Garoppolo – like the Lakers did signing Kobe Bryant to his final two-year contract. But I’m willing to take that hit for the service that Brady has given to the organization.
Not just the five Super Bowl titles, but the 13-3, potential MVP, season he’s currently having, but for all the times he has taken less than market-value money in order to give general manager Belichick more to work with to improve the team and keep the winning tradition going.
There is something beyond Xs and Os involved here. With his fifth Super Bowl title last year, and in the manner in which it was done, Brady didn’t just confirm his G.O.A.T. status on the field, he transcended the game. Kraft understands that, embraces that, while Belichick isn’t paid to think in such emotional terms.
He might not like Kraft getting involved in player decisions, but if he can’t see the logic in this one case, then he isn’t the Spock we all know him to be.
This may be the one case where both men are right Now it is up to Brady to make Captain Kraft’s decision look just slightly better.
Forget such weighty matters as the Mueller investigation into Russian election tampering, the Afghanistan War reboot, or HurricaneIrma raking the Florida peninsula, the NFL season kicked off this week with rings and dings.
And what a start it was. The Super Bowl champion New England Patriots presented a Cat 5 pre-game back slap for their fans as they celebrated a fifth Lombardi Trophy, then took a drubbing from the K.C. Chiefs 42-27. Oops.
NFL Commish Roger Goodell was on hand, but not President Trump, despite the fact that New England Patriots prez Robert Kraft gifted the President with a Super Bowl LI ring a few weeks back.
Well, at least now Messers Trump and Putin can flash Super Bowl bling at one another at their next summit (Putin, you might recall, lifted one of Bob Kraft’s previous Super Bowl rings after asking to just look at it.)
And now to the point of this blog. If you’ve had a hard time wrapping your head around the Trump-Putin bromance, how about explaining the one between Trump, Kraft, Coach Bill Belichick, and Tom Brady, the triumvirate of the Patriot dynasty.
Maybe Robert Kraft. Yes, that I can understand. It’s not just the billionaires club they belong to. Evidently, when Mr. Kraft’s wife died several years ago, Mr. Trump called him weekly to check up on how he was doing. Not much these days speaks well of our president, but that does.
But from Coach Belichick or QB Brady’s standpoint, think of it this way: if the character Trump portrays in public were a player in the draft or available in a trade, would the Patriots go for that kind of player? No chance! Continue reading “RING BEARER IN CHIEF”→