With Tom Brady in Qatar having his family’s April vacation chronicled by Tom vs. Time producer Gotham Chopra, you know we’re going to get a much more intimate and revealing look at what his April mindset really is.
With Rob Gronkowski in Texas acting as a human water ski you know we’re going to get . . . more enigmatic and entertaining social media posts.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Patriots are beginning preparations for 2018 still without knowing whether both or either will be back this season.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter mentioned on Wednesday what we’ve noted often this offseason: We all expect Brady to play, but he hasn’t since the offseason began, really committed.
His last on-the-record comment uttered during the season that he’d be back has been followed by ambiguous statements since about fun, appreciation and a nagging question of “why” he does all this.
And I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that this is an attempt -- one week before the draft -- to smoke Brady out. It’s one thing for us to report locally that it’s been impossible to “ferret out an answer that Tom Brady is going to play in 2018” as we did last week on Quick Slants The Podcast:
“I’ve tried to ferret out a hard answer that Tom [Brady]’s going to play in 2018, and I still haven’t been able to pin that down.”— Phil Perry (@PhilAPerry) April 18, 2018
That’s @tomecurran on our podcast late last week. https://t.co/L6yAFLE9Qs
It’s another thing entirely for Schefter -- owner of the biggest bugle in the business -- to wafflingly report that Brady hasn’t committed to playing. That’s going to cause pearl-clutching from Anaheim to Augusta, Maine. It ratchets up the heat a bit on Brady. OTAs started this week and the team has no indication? The draft is in a week and they don’t know? They traded Jimmy Garoppolo and there’s no hard answer? For one of the NFL’s most committed players, ambivalence does nothing for him in the court of public opinion (fleeting as that jury is). Worse, it doesn’t help his off-field brand with TB12 Sports Therapy. It’s also bad for the franchise to not know whether its figurehead is returning. Observe that when Schefter’s source catalogs the reasons Brady might be wavering, there’s no mention of a Brady-Bill Belichick rift and the very real power struggle that’s ongoing.
As this continues to play out, we continue to not only wonder what the endgame is but why? And who’s winning or deserves “blame?”
Our podcast this week went deep on a number of items with Jerod Mayo and the ongoing Foxboro Cold War:
Two main items of note:
-- First, if Danny Amendola feels somewhat betrayed by the still-unexplained benching of Malcolm Butler, what of Brady? And the rest of the team that is now returning?
“There are only two people that know what happened: Bill and Malcolm,” said Mayo. “I’ve had conversations with multiple guys on the team and no one knows."
Is this the biggest hurdle Belichick’s faced?
“I think so. Being able to rally the troops around this one common goal of getting to the Super Bowl while (players are thinking), ‘If we get there, how do we know you’re not going to pull this again?' that’s always going to be back of the players' minds as well. For the most part, players don’t play for the coaches. You play for the guy -- corny as it sounds -- you play for the guys next to you. And those guys will find a common ground to rally around. This can be terrible for the franchise for the foreseeable future, or they can just plow through it.”
-- Meanwhile, here’s Mayo on the importance of OTAs to the team.
“I remember when Bill, every offseason, the first thing he would say to the team was, ‘Hey guys, we’re not doing this, ‘I’m here this week, I’m gone next week . . . ’ Either you’re here or you’re not here. we’re not doing the back and forth.’
"So someone’s gotta bend here. Either Bill has to bend and say, ‘Guys, come on back home, you can come in.’ Or he can all of a sudden, iron fist drops and a nuclear bomb goes off. Either you’re in or you’re out. Timing doesn’t matter as far (what the team is doing). If Tom and Gronk aren’t here next week, they’re done for the whole offseason. Or, Bill has changed his ways a little bit. There’s been a little compromise."