Reimer: By walking off, Tom Brady signals he's sick of it all

Alex Reimer
July 30, 2018 - 12:22 pm

USA Today Sports

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Tom Brady is more than happy to opine about spirituality in Oprah’s backyard or reminisce with Gotham Chopra about his first training camp. That’s Brady’s world now: elite, insulated, controlled. The greatest quarterback of all-time has graduated from post-practice scrums with sweaty beat writers. Brady didn’t answer Ben Volin’s question Saturday about the speculated connection between Julian Edelman’s PED suspension and his work with Alex Guerrero, because he doesn’t have to. There was a time when Brady probably would’ve responded to the insinuation, as ridiculous as he may think it is. But now, he pleads the fifth. 

There’s a stark contrast between the transcripts of Brady’s five-minute availability from the weekend and his sit-down with Chopra for Religion of Sports, the media startup that boasts Brady, Chopra and Michael Strahan as investors. In the former, Brady was curt, except when he was lavishing Josh McDaniels with praise. In the latter, Brady laughs and even includes a winky face emoji. 

It’s not a revelation to say that Brady seemingly enjoys answering positive questions more than negative ones –– just like everybody else. But in the past, Brady has entertained critical inquiries. In the wake of Boston Magazine’s story about Guerrero’s unctuous past, for example, Brady staged an impassioned defense of his confidante on our airwaves. He could’ve done the same on Saturday. Instead, he chose to walk away. 

For the bulk of his career, Brady has been affable with the media. His acquiescence hasn’t granted him any slack whatsoever. He’s one of the most scrutinized individuals in the country, with silly controversies over deflated footballs and his ownership of a “Make America Great Again” cap leading the national news. 

The grilling Brady received about his friendship with Trump might have been the breaking point. The last time Brady walked out of a press conference was in October 2016, when he was asked about Trump’s leaked “Access Hollywood” video. Early in the fall, Brady told “Kirk & Callahan” he would reveal whether he had voted for Trump, but reneged after the election.

The timing of the Trump story might explain Brady’s increasing annoyance with the topic. It came on the heels of Deflategate, and on top of it all, Jimmy Garoppolo excelled in Brady’s absence. After reading nine months’ worth of reports about how Brady lobbied for Garoppolo’s exit, it’s fair to say TB12 might have been feeling some pressure. After all, Belichick referenced Brady’s “age and contract situation” when he drafted Jimmy G two years prior.

There have been several slights from Belichick over the last few years: drafting Jimmy G, telling reports to ask Tom about “his balls” at the onset of Deflategate, reportedly feuding with Guerrero, the team sources in Seth Wickersham’s piece who harped on Brady’s “increased fragility.” As we learn in Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge's soon-to-be-released book about the Deflategate saga, Brady was also furious about Robert Kraft's captiluation to the NFL during the process. “What the ****?” Brady reported shouted over the phone to NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith.“Why am I not getting the support I deserve on this thing?”

All of these factors might explain Brady’s performance Saturday, from his apparent annoyance with Volin’s line of questioning to brusquely saying he has “no thoughts” when asked about his reported tension with Belichick.

On K&C Monday, Volin said he thought the question was a relatively easy one for Brady. It presented him with an opportunity to extol Guerrero’s virtues, and defend his program. In other words, another way to talk up TB12. 

But Brady can do all of that without addressing speculation about whether his good friend received an illegal substance from the business he operates. Jim Gray and Oprah are more than happy to let him talk about pliability without tying it to PEDs. Brady can show us what it’s like to receive one of Guerrero’s deep tissue massages on his Facebook series. Brady doesn’t need newspaper reporters to reach the masses, so there’s no incentive for him to cooperate if he objects to the line of questioning. 

There’s also the possibility that Brady might be tired of the grind. For the last decade, he’s been in the headlines on a daily basis, taking up print space with innocuous controversies. Playing with deflated footballs is the worst crime he’s ever been accused of.

Now, Brady can curate every aspect of his message. The brand is more powerful than the pen. 

At least, that might be what Brady thinks. 

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