Hannable: Tom Brady’s attitude shift has everything to do with Jimmy Garoppolo’s absence

Ryan Hannable
May 23, 2018 - 12:45 am

Kevin Jairaj/USA Today Sports

FOXBORO — Last year at this time, Tom Brady was doing planks following a two-hour OTA session in 90-degree summer heat while the third-teamers were getting their reps and the rest of the starters were sitting on the ground drinking water.

This year, Brady isn’t even there.

Tuesday at Gillette Stadium was the first OTA session open to the media and the first chance to see the 2018 Patriots on the field, and Brady, along with Rob Gronkowski, were no where to be found. It was a real reminder that Brady has in fact changed over the last year. 

Remember this from Tom vs. Time?

“If you’re going to compete against me, you better be willing to give up your life, because I’m giving up mine,” Brady said in an early episode of the series.

Why exactly does Brady appear not to be giving up his life anymore? It’s pretty simple — Jimmy Garoppolo is no longer on the New England Patriots.

If Garoppolo was still on the roster there’s no chance Brady would be missing any practice time on the field. Brady barely was willing to give him any meaningless snaps at the end of blowout wins, but he’d miss all 10 OTA sessions which would allow him to get 10 sessions with the first-team offense? There’s no chance.

Brady knew how good Garoppolo was and that one day he could take his job. The quarterback also knew how much Bill Belichick liked him, so he didn’t want to give the coach any glimpse as to what life would be like with him not there and Garoppolo leading the way.

Things didn’t suddenly change this offseason. The same issues Brady's having this offseason have been there for years, but he can finally send a message because of who is behind him.

Without Brady, the best quarterback on the field Tuesday was director of player personnel Nick Caserio. Yes, we’re being a little facetious, but the point is the only quarterbacks on the roster besides the 40-year-old are Brian Hoyer, who did not look very good Tuesday, and rookie Danny Etling, who has a long way to go.

Neither Hoyer or Etling is going to take his job, so Brady doesn’t face any pressure to show up.

When asked about his absence, Belichick didn’t have much to say, but it was worth noting he didn’t even address the quarterback by name, or say the two have conversations all the time like he said when he spoke at the NFL owners meetings in March.

“Yeah, I am not going to talk about the people who aren’t here,” Belichick said Tuesday. “The guys that are here are improving. They are working hard and those are the guys who we are going to focus on.”

Belichick would obviously prefer if all his players showed up at these voluntary sessions as this is what sets the Patriots apart from the rest of the league. Their foundation for the next season begins in May, not July when training camp begins. Having everyone buying into that has the team ahead of the rest of the league once the summer rolls around. 

“The truth is, this lays the foundation for the start of training camp and if you have a good training camp, it usually means a good start to the season,” Brady said in 2013 when asked about the importance of OTAs. “A good start to the season leads to good position entering the second half of the season. Everything ends up having some significance to it. You’re not just out here running plays and going through different things that aren’t going to mean anything.We’re out here trying to get a lot of things accomplished.” 

Brady being the first one at these voluntary sessions over the years helped set the tone for the rest of the team. If Brady was showing up for every one of the voluntary sessions, how could any other player find an excuse not to go?

But, now that Brady doesn’t have anyone threatening his job, he can use his power.

What exactly Brady is trying to achieve by missing all these voluntary workouts is still a question mark, although it’s likely a combination of a few things. His contract likely is a factor, as he’s been underpaid almost his entire career and with the big contracts other quarterbacks signed this offseason, he could be eying a new deal. 

Along the same lines, it could be trying to be appreciated more. Reports surfaced last year that Brady didn’t feel appreciated enough and didn’t like the hard coaching he continued to receive after 18 years in the league. Lastly, it could be getting his personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, back in the building. Belichick reportedly changed Guerrero’s access in the middle of last season, which banned him from working inside the building, going on team trips and having sideline access.

Brady skipping the offseason program is petty and something we haven’t seen from him in the past. The exact reason why he’s acting this way isn’t completely clear, but what is clear is this all wouldn’t be happening if Garoppolo were still on the roster.

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