Fast Friday 5: How Kobe Bryant’s death affected Tom Brady

Andy Hart
April 10, 2020 - 7:25 am

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The death of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant earlier this year obviously affected a lot of people in a lot of ways.

One of those people, as we learned in this week’s interview with Sirius XM host Howard Stern, was Tom Brady.

In the midst of a two-plus-hour chat that included plenty of questions about the former Patriots GOAT’s decision to move on to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Brady brought up Bryant’s death as it related to us all appreciating life more, living in the moment and particularly him not having a reason to retire and give up his passion.

“I think if you’ve learned anything from what’s going on in this day and age, even as it relates to Kobe Bryant,” Brady said. “Kobe thought he had a long life too. You know? Nobody loved him…I mean I loved watching Kobe play. I think in a lot of ways he and I had the same mentality. And we had a great connection because of our mindset. And when I look at his life, you know we all think we’re going to live forever. But the reality is we don’t know when our day is going to come.

“So I could sit here and say, ‘well stop playing football’ so I could worry about what’s going to happen or worry about this or that instead of saying why don’t I live my life the way that I want and enjoy it in the ways that are going to be most fulfilling for me. Which for me is doing what I love to do. You don’t tell a musician, ‘Stop singing’ at age 42. You don’t tell a great painter, ‘Stop painting’ at 42. Now if you want to stop, stop. Go head. But for me because I feel like I can still play doesn’t mean I should stop playing because that’s what everyone is telling me to do.”

Brady had plenty of time to do some soul searching before he decided last summer that 2019 was “probably” his last season in New England.

He then prioritized his hopes and desires before picking Tampa Bay as his new home.

In these days when the coronavirus has taken hold of so many aspects of our lives, we all unfortunately have more time for introspection and evaluation of our lives, what’s important to us and what we want in the future.

Brady believes he has found his Happy Gilmore-esque happy place in Tampa preparing to play NFL football for at least a couple more years.

Let’s hope the rest of us can settle into our own happy places, especially when this weird world we live in starts to return to some form of normalcy.


Rex Ryan has the right to his opinion on Brady vs. Belichick

Former Jets and Bills head coach Rex Ryan has stuck his foot in his mouth –sorry, couldn’t resist – plenty over his career as both a coach and an analyst for ESPN.

Heck, his bosses certainly had the right to make him apologize recently for calling Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper “a turd.” It was a comment that obviously upset Devin and Jason McCourty and many others inside and outside the league.

But Ryan should not have to apologize or even explain his recent comments in which he answered rather emphatically the age-old question of who is more important to the Patriots’ success over the last two decades, Bill Belichick or Tom Brady?

It was definitely Tom Brady,” Ryan said, going on to note Belichick’s non-Brady resume. “Let’s give him somebody else, let’s give him Geno Smith, let’s give him whoever, and let’s see how many Super Bowls he would have won. We saw the answer was zero in Cleveland.”

Belichick’s longtime friend and underling with both the Browns and Patriots, Michael Lombardi, responded to Ryan’s comment via Twitter and seemingly took offense.

“You’d think after competing against the Pats, he would know the how and why,” Lombardi tweeted.

Ryan did indeed compete against the Patriots. Even beat them in the playoffs. Lost to them too often as well.

He does think he knows the how and why, despite acknowledging that Belichick is the greatest of all time. He thinks Brady was the key to all the success.

Maybe Ryan is right. Maybe Ryan is wrong. But he’s allowed to have his opinion, especially since he’s not necessarily what’s known as a FOBB – Friend of Bill Belichick – like Lombardi is.

We’ll never have a definitive answer to the Brady vs. Belichick question. Just opinions, some more biased than others. Opinions that we’re all entitled to, including Ryan.


The 2020 NFL “Draft-a-thon”

As the NFL pushes forward with the plan to hold a unique Draft April 23-25 the league announced this week that the event will included what it’s calling a “Draft-a-thon -- a three-day virtual fundraiser benefitting six charities – selected by the NFL Foundation – that are battling the spread of COVID-19 and delivering relief to millions in need.”

The six charities that will benefit from the fundraising efforts include the American Red Cross, CDC Foundation's All of Us: Combat Coronavirus Campaign, Feeding America's COVID-19 Response Fund, Meals on Wheels America's COVID-19 Response Fund, the Salvation Army and United Way's COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund.

The Draft, which some have argued should not be held given the current coronavirus pandemic, will also include 58 confirmed prospects who’ll participated virtually in the broadcast coverage on ABC, ESPN, ESPN Deportes and NFL Network. That group is led by the projected No. 1 overall pick in LSU quarterback Joe Burrow and the likely No. 2 selection in Ohio State defensive end Chase Young.

While there are certainly a lot more things of a lot more serious nature going on in the world, the NFL’s decision to forge on with the Draft has been the right one all along. Now, with the Draft broadcast not only coming as an entertainment relief to sports fans everywhere but also serving as a tool for charitable good in these tough times there is really no argument against it.


Imagining Bill Belichick drafting when the WiFi goes out…

Speaking of the “virtual” 2020 NFL Draft, there is obvious intrigue with team personnel working the Draft from their homes, as the league has mandated. That means decision makers like Bill Belichick will be relying on technology to interact with staff members, scouts and advisors – Ernie Adams better make sure he’s well-connected – before making selections on picks that will be analyzed and criticized for years to come.

We all know that Belichick has had his issues with technology over the years. There was that clip in one NFL Films documentary of him struggling to change the time on the clock in his car. And he stopped using Microsoft Surface tablets on game days because he wasn’t comfortable with them, to the point he actually threw one of those tiny blue boxes of his frustration to the ground in the bench area on one occasion.

Wonder how Belichick feels about the increased reliance on technology – there has always been the need to communicate on Draft weekend with personnel on location, across the league and at league offices either by phone or computer – for this year’s Draft?

Can you imagine Belichick’s reaction in the first round when his WiFi goes down? When his laptop freezes for whatever reason? If his power were to go out?

Oh to be a fly – or a cell phone camera -- on that Nantucket wall!


Better late than never…

John Henry and his Fenway Sports Group changed course this week and decided to retain and fully pay the staff of the Liverpool F.C. Premier League soccer team. Last weekend FSG had decided that all of the non-playing staff was being furloughed, but that the club would pick up the 20-percent of the employees’ salaries not covered by the government in what is essentially what we would term unemployment benefits in the United Kingdom. The decision was roundly criticized, including by former players for a club that reportedly profited more than $52 million for the 2018-19 season.

Similar to what happened with the Philadelphia 76ers’ reversal of a decision to reduce employees’ salaries early on in this economic downturn and sports-free world created by the coronavirus pandemic, Liverpool pulled an about face under the heavy public pressure.

The club issued a letter to its supporters that was posted on its website and explained the change of heart.

We believe we came to the wrong conclusion last week to announce that we intended to apply to the Coronavirus Retention Scheme and furlough staff due to the suspension of the Premier League football calendar, and are truly sorry for that,” a portion of the letter read.

“Our intentions were, and still are, to ensure the entire workforce is given as much protection as possible from redundancy and/or loss of earnings during this unprecedented period.

“We are therefore committed to finding alternative ways to operate while there are no football matches being played that ensures we are not applying for the government relief scheme.”

Companies all over the world in all industries are facing financial challenges and finding different ways to deal with the economic impact that the coronavirus has created. Some have worked in a nobler manner than others. In the end, Henry and the Fenway Sports Group found a way to do the right thing for their employees. For that they deserve praise, even if it took some outside pressure to reach the end result.

Related: Patriots Draft Prospect Preview: Could T Josh Jones make sense in talented OL class?