I write these words as someone who believes there’s plenty of discord inside Gillette Stadium. I further believe the heads of most Patriots fans would explode if they knew the full extent of what’s going on down that way.
And as a disclaimer, let’s get this out of the way yet again: Tom Brady had something to do with that whole Deflategate thing. OK? The four-game suspension was a colossal overreach, no doubt about that. He should have been fined, is all. But to say that Our Tom was completely innocent in all this . . . grow up.
Now that we have that out of the way, here’s something about which we can all agree: That we are even having a discussion about a 40-year-old quarterback’s future at a time when said 40-year-old quarterback is a leading candidate for the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award . . . that’s just crazy.
That the 40-year-old quarterback guided his team to a 13-3 regular-season record . . . another round of crazy, please.
That the 40-year-old quarterback will take the field against the cannon-fodder Tennessee Titans tonight at Gillette Stadium hellbent on leading his team to its third Super Bowl championship in four seasons, and the sixth of his career, well, that’s just nuts.
Perhaps that’s what we’ve forgotten about all this. Or maybe it’s just that, distracted as we are by the various palace intrigues and all kinds of zany visuals — a favorite of mine has Jimmy Garoppolo banging on the TB12 door and yelling, “Alex! Alex!” — we aren’t giving Brady enough oohs and ahhs.
So let’s ooh and ahh. For the second time in three years we’re watching a 40-something athlete have a season that’s something to write home about, but with a twist: David Ortiz got a season-long goodbye tour, whereas this time it’s Garoppolo who got the goodbye, only without the tour. Or the truckload of tacky gifts from opposing teams.
I don’t believe Brady will still be playing when he’s 45. And if he is playing, he won’t be the quarterback he is today. (Keeping in mind that when Brady was 35 nobody was saying he’d be this good at 40.) And even if he still is playing, it’s possible his teammates won’t be at the talent level of the current bunch. He might not even have the same coach.
But in the here and now . . . wow. As amazing as it was two years ago to see David Ortiz hit .315 with 38 home runs and 127 RBI, all he had to do was swing the bat and then limp out of he box. Yes, yes, yes, hitting a major league pitch is the toughest thing to do in sport, as Ted Williams always said, but at least Ortiz was able to do his thing without worrying that 6-foot-4, 260-pound Minnesota Twins third baseman Miguel Sanó was going to charge down the line and tackle him.
To play any sport at the major league level requires a daily understanding that you could be cruelly injured out there. Think Tony Conigliaro in baseball. Think Marc Savard in hockey. Think Maurice Stokes in basketball. (You may need to Google that last one. It’s really sad.) But the brutal, barbaric nature of football separates it from all the others. It’s almost routine now to be watching a game and have the action come to a sudden and protracted halt, followed by a hushed silence hovering over the stadium as medical personnel attend to a wounded, motionless player.
Brady gets a lot of credit for playing at a high caliber at age 40, but he also gets mocked. And parodied, as in the folks who make with the avocado ice cream jokes in complimenting somebody for accomplishing something. And that’s part of the problem: Brady sometimes comes across as kooky when he talks about his strict diet regime and his devotion to Svengali Guerrero.
And the world being as crazy as it is, Brady gets ridiculed for being good-looking. At least Big Papi had the good sense to parade around with a nice layer of middle-aged girth, and Ted Williams himself, who won back-to-back batting titles in his age 38 and 39 seasons, looked 38 and then 39 while doing it. In fact, photos of the Teddy Ballgame in winter suggest a man well into his 40s.
If Bill Belichick really was mapping out a life beyond Brady, with Jimmy G lining up behind center, I don’t blame him. If Belichick is surprised that Brady’s playing this well at his age, so am I.
Eventually, Brady is going to lose it. But he’s not going to lose it tonight, and the Patriots are not going to lose.
Source : http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/columnists/steve_buckley/2018/01/buckley_let_s_take_a_moment_to_appreciate_old_man_tom_brady