Those of us who yell about sports on TV or radio caught the ire of some fans for talking about Tom Brady too much. We were talking ourselves in circles, looking for stuff that wasn't there.
In the end, they were correct. Because if we were sticking to the facts, we would have all said the same thing: He's obviously gone because the team doesn't want him.
Most of us leaned that way, of course.
I for sure thought the Patriots didn't want him, but did my cowardly ass interrupt a single "Boston Sports Tonight" segment with "What's to discuss here? He's 100 percent gone?" Sure didn't. Because deep down, I and everyone else was allowing for the possibility of Belichick zigging when we expected a zag.
But the zag wasn't coming.
And if it were, it would have made no sense for Belichick to save it for this week. Not when it was going to cost the Patriots more in dead money against the cap, and not when it would have resulted in Brady being brought back after an offseason of Bill making him sweat it out.
My colleague Tom E. Curran said it before the season. All the signs indicated this was it for Brady in New England, strongly hinting that Brady was fed up.
Curran doubled down in December, saying a "radical course change" was what was needed. He didn't flatly say "Brady's gone," but he told us where to look and what we were seeing.
Some fans and media didn't want to see it because they didn't want Brady to leave. Others didn't because they knew better than to assume a Belichick decision.
When the Patriots added the void year to Brady's contact, a lot of New England shrugged. It meant Brady was going into a walk year for the first time ever, but we/they/whomever shrugged nonetheless. When the season ended badly and the Pats did nothing with a months-long head start on the rest of the league to sign Brady, the shrugs turned to a mix of uncertainty and defiance.
Some of the things thrown out there:
"They'll let him test free agency, then he'll come back."
"He's not going anywhere. You [the meeeedia] just need something to talk about."
And the funniest one:
"They can't talk numbers until the new CBA goes through!"
But the reality remained: Belichick could have been sending flowers to Brady, but he was scouting Middle Tennessee State players in the rain. He could have been sending contract offers, but he wasn't.
Typically, when a team can sign a player and doesn't offer them a contract, it really is that simple.
We just overthought it.