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Should Tom Brady’s private life be off limits?

Tom Brady will bring a banged up line and WR corps into New Orleans to face the Saints in Week 2, and Mike Florio and Peter King are concerned about the Bucs' chances against their old nemesis.

Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady accepts the reality that interest in his private life goes with the very public territory he occupies. But should it?

It’s a question with which many in the media have wrestled as Brady’s public and private existence collided in recent weeks, starting with an unprecedented 11-day hiatus from training camp and continuing with reports of marital discord. For his part, Brady has said only that he has “a lot of shit going on.” His wife, Gisele Bundchen said in a recent interview with Elle that she “would like him to be more present” and that she has “done my part” and that “now it’s going to be my turn.”

Most recently, CNN -- a major national news outlet currently trying to stake out fresh territory in the wide swath of American purple -- reported that Brady and Bundchen are “living separately.”

For football fans, it’s too easy and convenient to brush off interest in the subject as voyeurism. While a certain amount of rubbernecking plays into it, the possibility that personal turmoil may affect Brady’s professional performance looms over the entire season. He’s noticeably thinner. He’s 45. He talked earlier this week about being sore on Monday, even though he didn’t get hit very hard on Sunday -- especially not in comparison to guys like Aaron Rodgers.

And the interest currently stretches beyond general fandom and/or fantasy football bragging rights. Significant and legal wagers are being made based on how his team fares and, directly or indirectly, on how Brady does. Whether his personal life has turned upside down becomes just as relevant as to whether he has a knee injury.

And, again, it’s a natural byproduct of living his life as an open book. No one has forced him to remain in the public eye for this long. To keep playing football well into middle age, to keep accepting endorsement deals and commercial appearances, to keep building social-media platforms on which he hawks crypto and jockey shorts. If he wants his privacy, he can pack it all up and disappear into one of the various homes he owns.

The fact that he’s playing pro football at a high level for longer than anyone has (and that he plans to become the top NFL analyst for Fox at an ungodly salary of $37.5 million per year) shows that he intend to continue to remain in the public eye. As we’ve said many times in the past, those who crave attention can’t dictate the terms of it. Hey everybody look at me! and What the hell are you looking at? simply don’t mesh.

To his credit, Brady gets it. He’s not complaining about it. But does it make it right for people to wonder what’s really going on? For those who follow football not just for entertainment but as a vehicle for gambling interests from which the NFL profits, it’s not only right but also necessary.