If this were a war movie, this would be the part where the wounded hero, face caked in mud and blood and breathing from a sucking chest wound, tells his crying friend, “Go on without me . . . there’s nothing more you can do . . . (cough) . . . save yourself . . . "
Eh, maybe I overdramatize. Maybe this “No mas” from Tom Brady is less about fighting the good fight for his union brothers on behalf of the NFLPA and more about making sure that the rug doesn’t get pulled out from under his 2016 season sometime after week four. Maybe it’s more about him deciding he doesn’t want to be the pawn in the NFL vs. NFLPA battle anymore and -- for the first time in 18 months -- getting some professional certainty. If he misses four, he misses four. He’s got a wife, kids, parents, sisters, extended family. The grind and strain that’s been on them needs to end.
However you feel about the decision -- and I was stunned -- you’d have to be a moron to think he had a chance in hell at this point of winning. The jig was up. Party was over. The fat lady had indeed sung.
The rock-kicking around here is going to be because people feel abandoned. Will Brady be decried in the same way Robert Kraft was when he stood down in May of 2015? I doubt it, but hell hath no fury like a Pats fan who thinks he's been left in the trenches during his fight to defend the wall.
The upside for Brady and the Patriots is simply certitude. The Patriots now know what their depth chart will look like in early September. They know that Brady will be back a little more rested and healthy in October than he's ever been. You also get a grip on what Jimmy G can do, as does the rest of the NFL. Maybe you can turn that into something next offseason.
But really, that's whipped cream on a massive turd. We're talking about the greatest quarterback of his or perhaps any generation being lost to his team for four games. We're talking about a guy who deserves to be celebrated, who the NFL should have had a sanctified relationship with, being tied to the league’s bumper and dragged along for 18 months until he finally let go.
This gives the NFL the ability to cluck, cluck and say, “Hey, he knew what he did all along and that’s why he stood down . . . ” It gives the anti-Patriot archers around the country 10 million new arrows to pull from their quiver and shoot right in the heart of the argument of the greatest dynasty and the greatest quarterback in league history.
It seems these days that we are, in general, talking about injustices quite a bit. This doesn't rise to anything close to what we're seeing nationally and internationally, and the level of indignation shouldn’t rise to a level of letting it ruin your day.
But I believe we’d all like to think that a game that has become America’s most popular wouldn’t be bastardized by the people lucky enough to find themselves in positions of power. Before this, I think we were all certain the owners, the commissioner, the league VPs and attorneys, were above conjuring evidence. Above leaking. Smearing. Lying to settle old scores or to gain a competitive advantage.
Nobody thinks that way now.
They all got their way. They broke Brady. They got their advantage. Now let's see what they do with it.