Curran: Oprah interview underscores Brady's wavering devotion to football

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Curran: Oprah interview underscores Brady's wavering devotion to football

The money quote from the first episode of Tom vs. Time caused massive swooning in the right-hand corner of the country.

“If you’re going to compete against me, you better be willing to give up your life,” warned Tom Brady. “Because I’m willing to give up mine.”

New England had to collectively lean against the headboard and smoke a cigarette after that.

“The guy’s got everything anyone could want and he’ll put it all on the back burner for football? And, by extension, for me, since I prefer to consume the football his team plays? Hold me . . . ”

Nobody knew then the unspoken sentences after that sentiment would have sounded like this . . . 

"But I don’t know how much longer I’m going to be willing to give up my life.

"Hell, I have three kids. They aren’t just little balls of flesh with eyes and mouths anymore, they are needy miniature humans. My wife is pretty much all set with me getting dropped out a two-story window every week and coming home in a crap mood when some 23-year-old who thinks he’s arrived runs the wrong route at practice for the 233rd time since August.

"I get paid half the dough of players half as good as me.  My boss has been wearing my ass out for almost two decades and when I try to get everyone to understand that, ‘Hey, there might be a different approach to training that’s worked great for me . . . ’ I’m Benedict Arnold. And sorry for being 40 and thinking about the rest of my life after football, advancing the ‘brand’ and not playing Fortnite. So giving up my life . . . I don’t know. Maybe next year I just try to give up a big portion of my life instead of the whole thing and see how that works out."

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That version of Tom Brady was right there. Right under the surface. The guy attached to another adult male by giant rubber bands so he could drag him around the backyard of a $5 million (or whatever) mansion while wearing a helmet and shoulder pads may actually have realized, “This seems odd.”

Judging from Brady’s 45-minute interview with Orpah Winfrey that aired Sunday, and a slew of other occasions this offseason, Tom Brady’s just not that into it the way he was.

I think you’d call the “give up my life” quote a case of whistling past the graveyard. Brady knew when he chest-puffed about sacrifice that there was an expiration date on that, but he didn’t want to acknowledge it.

Why? Horrible for the brand. Better to appear as if every cell in the organism was swimming  toward the same goal of domination without a single one of them saying, “Are you sure we’re going the right way?”

You could also call that quote a bait-and-switch. Brady’s entitled to be a complete human -- encouraged, even. But the 180 from the first episode of TvT to this offseason is nothing anyone could have anticipated based on the propaganda served. We’ve gotten a steady diet of mixed messages from Brady and those around him and responses that -- in their delivery -- invite more speculation than they douse.

With Oprah, Brady again tentatively pointed out that real life has increasingly encroached on football.

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Asked about retirement, he answered, “I think about it more now than I used to. I think I’m seeing there’s definitely an end coming sooner, rather than later. As long as I’m still loving it. As long as I’m loving the training and the preparation and willing to make the commitment.

“But it’s also, I think what I alluded to a lot in the docuseries, there’s other things happening in my life, too,” Brady added. “I do have kids that I love, and I don’t want to be a dad that’s not there, driving my kids to their games . . . my kids have brought a great perspective in my life. Kids just want the attention. You better be there. And be available to them.”

Gotham Chopra, who produced TvT, was the first to declare Brady as being year-to-year. Then, soon after, Brady’s agent Don Yee told ESPN’s Adam Schefter, "Tom's intentions have not changed. He's consistently said he'll play beyond this contract and into his mid-40s, or until he feels he isn't playing at a championship level. I understand the constant speculation, but this is one point he's been firm about."

Oprah, who despite the Harry Caray glasses just doesn’t seem that much fun anymore, did ask Brady if there is “something going on” with Bill Belichick.

Brady answered, “Umm . . . no. I mean, I love him. I love that he is an incredible coach, mentor for me. He’s pushed me in a lot of ways. Like everything, we don’t agree on absolutely everything, but that’s relationships.”

The “ummmm . . . ” and averted eyes spoke a lot louder than the “no.”

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If you asked your kid, “Son, didn’t you see this pile of dog crap on the rug?” and he answered, “Ummmm . . . no . . . ” while looking away, you’d tell him to clean up the dog crap he tried to pretend he hadn’t seen.

There’s no sense turning this into another “Ah HA!” moment about there being friction. You all get it by now. I'm instead pointing it out because it’s another example of the dissembling Brady’s done this offseason, where he indicates one thing and then walks it back in the next breath.

If there is one spin-it-forward takeaway from this it might be this: Given his devotion to understatement, saying the end is coming "sooner rather than later" makes me wonder if my long-held belief Brady would retire after 2019 has to be reconsidered as being a year too aggressive. 

How was the interview overall? Fine, I guess. The two standout parts for me were actually from Oprah. The first came when she admitted being amazed that there was more depth to Brady than the person she’s seen playing football.

“Gee,” she noted, outing herself as one of a dwindling number of “gee” users. “Watching you play football, I wouldn’t have thought of you as a spiritual person or that spirituality was a kind of thing you were seeking or conscious about.”

Holy crap. It would be fun to be a speck in the Oprah universe, say a plumber fixing a drain and then mentioning aloud how much you like jazz.  

“You’re my plumber,” Oprah would say, “But you also think about things other than faucets and drains. Gee.”

The second came when Brady gave some fortune-cookie wisdom passed on to him by Gisele, saying, “We’re spiritual beings having a human experience.”

Oprah shot forward like she was hit with a cattle prod, clutched her chest and blurted, “YES! That’s one of my favorite phrases!”

Gee, she was real excited.

This post has gone on too long so I’ll chew on the other items a little later. I would have done it yesterday when the interview came out but as someone once said, “I do have kids that I love, and I don’t want to be a dad that’s not there, driving my kids to their games . . . my kids have brought a great perspective in my life. Kids just want the attention. You better be there. And be available to them.”

So I golfed. 

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Curran: Brady doesn't say a lot and that's pretty telling

Curran: Brady doesn't say a lot and that's pretty telling

FOXBORO – This was the first off-the-cuff media session Tom Brady’s been involved in since the Patriots maddening defeat in Super Bowl 52.
 
No script, no appearance fee, no solo questioner with whom Brady was comfortable, no editing rights.

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So, what did Brady do in front of this phalanx of 14 cameras and two dozen mic-wielding reporters? He clammed up.
 
It wasn’t the honest and introspective guy who spoke in "Tom vs. Time" about mining for purpose. It wasn’t the easy-grinning guy that parried Jim Gray’s questions at the Milken Institute.

And – unless I miss my guess – it wasn’t the charming, vulnerable, time-addled dad that Oprah undoubtedly got for her Brady doo-dad that drops on Father’s Day.
 
It was four minutes of a verbal Heisman after the Patriots final mini-camp practice at Gillette Stadium.
 
At the very least, I anticipated Brady would say that – after an unprecedented offseason sabbatical from stadium workouts – he felt completely recharged, refreshed and cleansed.
 
That kind of statement would have signaled that the slings and arrows he’d taken and the endless handwringing he caused (I’m down to the bone over here) had all been worth it.
 
Yeah, no. 
 
Approaching gently at the start of what we were told would be a quick session, I asked if the guy on the couch in "Tom vs. Time" that seemed so conflicted was still around. Did he still feel conflicted?
 
“No,” he replied. “It's been just a good process for me and it's been fun to be out here with my teammates and I'm excited about the year. Every year has some different challenges and this is good. It's been a good three days and we've got to try to keep it going and be ready for camp."

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Over the next few minutes, Brady said “personal reasons” kept him from OTAs, that his relationship with Bill Belichick is and has been “great” and that he never considered retirement.
 
Asked about a new contract – the current one runs through 2019 – Brady said, “I've never talked about my contract. I've never brought up money, I think for a lot of reasons that I've said over the years. Those things are very personal.”
 
The last question Brady fielded was whether or not he’d attend the final voluntary OTAs of the offseason next week.
 
Brady – showing obvious parental sleight of hand – gave a “Can’t you see Daddy just got home?” kind of answer.
 
“We're not even through today yet,” he replied. “We've had a good three days and been working on the things we need to work on. That's what I always focus on.”
 
In other words, NFW. So what’s the relevance?
 
He missed OTAs yet looked precisely like Tom Brady through the three days of mini-camp we watched.

And he was plenty pissed off and fed up in 2017 but won his third NFL MVP then dragged a defenseless Patriots team up and down the field in the Super Bowl, throwing for 505 yards to nearly win a third Super Bowl for the franchise in four seasons. And he did that while underpaid, too.
 
So what if he doesn’t pass the happy test? Or emote to our satisfaction? Or have a cathartic session with reporters like chastened Red Sox players like to do at the picnic tables in Fort Myers?
 
Here’s what’s relevant. For almost his entire NFL career, he – and we – have dutifully painted an idyllic scene of blood, sweat, tears and winning in Foxboro. It was hard but everybody liked it that way.

PHIL PERRY

 But the past few years of Machiavellian maneuvering and palace intrigue have bubbled to the surface so completely that Brady has given up the ghost.
 
When it comes to this team these days, Brady’s relationship status would be listed as: “Complicated.”

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Curran: Edelman positive PED test not from anything Guerrero told him to take

Curran: Edelman positive PED test not from anything Guerrero told him to take

FOXBORO – The ironic aspect of Julian Edelman’s PED suspension is the shrapnel that’s now hitting Tom Brady, Alex Guerrero and TB12 Sports Therapy as a result.

According to two sources, Edelman’s positive test had nothing to do with anything he was advised to take by Guerrero – Brady’s body coach, business partner and the man at the center of a nearly year-long training tug-of-war between Brady, Rob Gronkowski and the team.

Here's the statement Guerrero released:

"I’ve known Julian since his rookie year and he is a phenomenal athlete who takes his training seriously—it’s disappointing to hear today’s news. Elite athletes sometimes work with multiple coaches and health professionals as part of their off-season training. 

"Here at our facility, we take a natural, holistic, appropriate and, above all, legal approach to training and recovery for all of our clients. And anyone who would suggest otherwise is irresponsible, and just plain wrong."

There are full-time TB12 adherents, which Brady has been and Gronkowski has become. There are scores of players who go there (and are referred to by Bill Belichick even now) for soft-tissue work. There are players who go, find some benefit and go a la carte. And there are those who go full-bore and then – because either the nutritional, rest or training demands don’t suit them at a particular time – wander away for a while.

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Edelman, according to one source, falls into the latter category. Last offseason, he was full-bore on the program. This offseason, he’s been by sometimes but not with slavish devotion.

That’s why, according to another source, blowback on Guerrero and TB12 Sport Therapy “would be so irresponsible.” 

While it might not be accurate, it’s not surprising that an arched eyebrow would be turned in the direction of TB12 after Edelman’s positive test.

Because of Brady’s success, his loyalty to Guerrero, the TB12 empire that’s been built and the battle lines drawn over what’s the best way to train, plenty of people have become turned off to the whole thing.

I’ve seen Guerrero. I’ve used the training center to rehab injuries. I’d recommend both without hesitation. All I got was deep tissue massage, hydration and diet tips and some exercise advice about three years ago and I still don’t shut up about how great it is.

For people who haven’t gone and – further – have been bopped over the head nonstop with stories and conversation about the wonders of the program, it has inevitably become a little much.

And Brady’s evangelical devotion to it while at the same time performing better at 40 than he did at 35 has caused skepticism.

PHIL PERRY

So that’s why Guerrero and TB12 have wound up taking the hit as much as Edelman has.

Is it fair? No. Was it inevitable? Yes.  

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