Is a person obliged to respond to damaging, fact-free speculation about his business?
Especially if a statement has already dismissed this speculation as unfounded (cue the: “Yeah, what else are they going to say???” retort). Should another statement be made that just gives the fact-free speculation more traction?
Saturday afternoon, Ben Volin of The Boston Globe asked Brady, “When Julian [Edelman] tested positive, a lot of people connected it to Alex Guerrero. What’s your reaction to that? Do you think it’s fair?”
Brady scoffed, then said, “I have no comments, just ridiculous.” He then smiled, said, “I’m out,” and walked away.
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Since this happened Saturday, everybody hasn’t yet had their bite at the apple, their chance to “weigh in.” Now that Monday’s here, the reviews are in. And Brady is being roundly described as “soft.”
We have e-mail chains each day prior to our NBCSports Boston shows. Brady’s so far been derided as sensitive and compared to a 3-year-old. And it’s still early.
Apparently, his line of thinking should have gone a little like this . . .
You want to write a story about my close friend and teammate who failed a PED test and is going to sit out a quarter of the season?
You’re wondering if I’ll distance myself from his indiscretion and throw in with my other close friend and business partner, who’s been widely and repeatedly denounced in the local media as a snake oil salesman?
And when I’m done talking off-the-cuff after a two-hour padded practice in tropical heat, my answer’s going to be dismissed as an overly-defensive crock with a few knee-slappers about avocado ice cream squeezed in?
How was Brady supposed to traipse through that verbal minefield? A minefield that’s there simply because of the obvious desire to see Guerrero and all the TB12 hokum discredited?
(DISCLOSURE!!! In 2013, I saw Guerrero twice for an old-man injury. Paid for his services. It worked. I’d happily recommend him to anyone with a nagging injury. And I’ve bought whey protein from TB12 as well.)
Was Volin entitled to ask the question? Sure. It was Brady’s first access of camp, anyone can ask what they want.
But feeling aggrieved on Volin’s behalf at a request for Brady’s reaction to “a lot of people!” spitballing about Brady and Guerrero’s business based on something Edelman did? Or offended that Brady ended the press conference and walked away? That itself seems a soft reaction.
Brady knows by now that his decision to create the sovereign country of TB12 changed things permanently. If you’re going to build an empire, marry the world’s most famous supermodel, appear in movies, hobnob nonstop with the elite at glitzy awards shows, dress weird, make a spectacle of yourself on social media, build a California palace and evangelize about the how-to handbook for life you created with your body coach, well, you’re asking for it.
“It,” he has now come to realize, includes steady criticism and scrutiny from the region’s paper of record on everything from his charity work to how long he kisses his kids. And a true devotion to make Guerrero seem batcrap crazy and dangerous.
Brady’s reaction came because the question presumed he was obligated to answer what he sees as an ongoing effort to discredit Guerrero and TB12.
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I don’t feel badly for Brady. It is what it is and this is the life he chose. He’s the one who, for lack of a better phrase, “put it out there.”
But I also don’t begrudge him for drawing up his own rules of media engagement.
We’re all remoras to the Great White that is Brady. Media. Fans. Teammates. Coaches. The league itself. Clusters of suckerfish that hang close and feed, feed, feed on the content Brady provides on and off the field.
And on Saturday, even in giving the media nothing, he gave them plenty.