Fast Friday 5: Why it’s best for Tom Brady to stay with Patriots

Andy Hart
March 06, 2020 - 6:32 am
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A day ago in this very space, a case was made for why it truly would serve Tom Brady best to leave New England and play for a new team.

With all due respect, it was poppycock.

Brady Watch 2020 is a runaway train at this point, picking up steam while no one knows for sure where it will end or if anyone is actually in control.

But in a sane world, in less than two weeks it would end by pulling into the MBTA Commuter Rail station just across the parking lot from Gillette Stadium, because there is no way that the best thing for Brady’s short- or long-term future is to ride his way out of Foxborough.

The arguments for Brady staying in a Patriots uniform to finish his two-decade NFL career where it started, remaining the franchise “icon” that Bill Belichick described him as less than two months ago, are as simple as a few time-tested clichés.

The grass isn’t always greener…

The devil you know…

Change, for change’s sake…

More specific arguments are just as obvious.

Staying in New England would keep Brady with the best coach, best owner and best organization in football. Even in his most annoyed, stressed, “miserable 8-0 quarterback” times he still has to believe that.

It would keep him playing in the system he’s known and honed for 20 years, acting as a part-time offensive coordinator at times.

It would allow him to keep throwing to his best football friend and proven on-field partner in passing crime – Julian Edelman.

It would allow him to continue to live his life with a work/family balance that he’s grown accustomed to in recent years. The original TB12 training facility is a fly route throw from the Gillette locker room, providing him all the treatment and prehabilitation that he needs as easily as possible. Even if it’s not ideal for anyone involved, he can probably continue to be a part-time participant in the voluntary aspects of the offseason program.

Despite the way things petered out late last season, New England probably also still gives Brady the best chance to win a Super Bowl in the next couple years. Sure, the Wild Card Weekend defeat hurt, but remember there was a time that the Patriots were arguably the best team in football and save for a season-finale fart by the defense could and should have been the No. 2 seed with a bye in the postseason. Playing for Belichick in the AFC East is still likely the best Brady path to another Lombardi, especially dismissing the seemingly short-sighted rumors of the Super Bowl runner-up 49ers having interest. The reality is that for 20 years in New England, Brady has never been far off from the Super Bowl, that’s nearly impossible to replicate or anticipate elsewhere.

While we could go on and on listing reasons why Brady should remain in New England and stay a life-long Patriot, the point has been made.

Brady Watch 2020 has been fun. It’s been a boon for media everywhere.

But Tom Brady belongs in a Patriots uniform in 2020. And forever.

It is what it is.

Holy overpaid color commentator, Batman!

Former Cowboys quarterback and inexplicably-anointed GOAT color commentator Tony Romo reached a new contract extension with CBS this week, a deal that’s almost unfathomable.

Romo will reportedly earn $17 million a year moving forward on a pact that could balloon out more than a decade based on the network’s ability to extend its own rights deal with the NFL. That’s right, Romo will now essentially be paid $1 million a game to sit and watch, earning much more than just about every player in front of him actually putting their health on the line in a far more meaningful performance.

Is Romo good at what he does?

Sure.

Is he the best in the business right now?

Maybe.

Romo brings insight, passion and a comfortable conversation to his work with Jim Nantz on CBS’ No. 1 crew.

But he also just so happens to work the best game CBS has to offer each week. That means he’s often analyzing the play of MVP stars like Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson.

He’s making TV chicken salad out of best ingredients available.

Despite what some Romo supporters will tell you, no one is watching games just to see and hear him work. No one would stop watching the best games CBS has to offer if Romo weren’t a part of the production package.

Does Romo occasionally predict a play that’s coming? Yup. Of course he also states the obvious at times like every other commentator– “On the goal line, so they could run or throw here!” – and is prone to uncertain groans and grunts at times while “analyzing” replays.

Romo is good. He’s fun. He’s also now arguably the most overrated, overpaid man in all of sports.

That is until Peyton Manning – who’s never done the color commentary job – gets his rumored new deal with ESPN worth more than $18 million to do Monday Night Football.

Somebody should tell these networks that if they are so flush with cash, just printing money, that the players on the field who are actually the show, the product and the reason everyone tunes in, would probably be happy to take some of that green off their hands.

Sale-ing toward a lost season

Red Sox ace Chris Sale seemingly tried to say the right things when he discussed his elbow injury this week that apparently won’t require surgery (for now!!??) but will delay his 2020 debut even further than his offseason bout of pneumonia already had.

But the tone and takeaway from Sale’s comments did little to bring any confidence to the situation.

Sale is a genuine gamer and a competitor far more than a salesman. And he couldn’t really sell optimism when he met with reporters in Florida on Thursday even though he used that very word.

“There's optimism to be had and I'm thankful for that, but I know the situation we're in right now and it's not fun," said Sale, who even before this latest health issue was coming back from a season in which he went 6-11 with a career-worst 4.40 ERA. "There's an expectation level that not only our fans, my team, you guys, and myself hold me to and I haven't met that. I haven't. This is about as tough a situation as I've ever been in."

At one point Sale used the word “inevitable” in relation to dreaded and season-ending Tommy John surgery. Maybe he didn’t mean it in the most literal, here-and-now sense, but it’s also somewhat hard to fathom that the old-school current plan of rest and some anti-inflammatory treatment is going to suddenly be the cure for his left elbow issues.

While Sale is trying to stay and sound upbeat, he isn’t. He knows the reality of the situation and it’s not good.

The Red Sox need an All-Star caliber Sale, who is in the first year of a five-year, $145 million extension, to be atop the rotation if the team is going to have any chance to compete in the AL East in the post-Mookie Betts world.

He won’t be there to start the season. And if we’re being honest, based on the way things have gone and appear to be going, it’s hard to bet that he’ll be there for very long at any point all season.

Spring training is supposed to be a time of hope in MLB. But after the sign-stealing situation that cost manager Alex Cora his job, the trade of the former MVP Betts and now Sale’s arm issues, there hasn’t been a lot to be hopeful about in Red Sox Nation.

Aside from maybe the hope that sooner or later there will be some actual good news coming out of Fenway South.

For Openers, I hate the idea

They say that necessity is the mother of invention.

Of late for the Red Sox, it seems necessity is more of an indicator of ineptitude.

Past bad contracts and a need to reset the books under MLB’s “Competitive Balance” system played a big role in the team trading former MVP Mookie Betts and David Price in a move that even GM Chaim Bloom openly admitted didn’t make the team better for the current task at hand.

Even before Chris Sale’s ominous elbow issues returned, Boston had a lack of starting pitchers.

So, what does that necessitate? Apparently the possibility that Boston will join the Tampa Bay-led ranks of teams turning to an “Opener” in 2020.

That means guys who are essentially middling relievers, expected to go just an inning or two will be opening games with regularity. It’s a plan Bloom and Co. used with the Rays. Others have taken note.

I hate it. It’s another example of the new-age Red Sox not being built in the big-market, classic way we’ve all come to know and love over the years. It feels like the kind of thing a team might do in a tough stretch in the middle of the season. Not a plan of attack to open the year, no pun intended.

Right now it feels like an episode of MacGyver – the old Richard Dean Anderson version, not the remake – where the title character is going to save the day with bubble gum, a paper clip and a Whatchamacallit bar. But this isn’t TV. And Bloom isn’t MacGyver.

Nope, no more rotations with high-priced, high-talent starters like Pedro Martinez, Curt Schilling and Derek Lowe.

Now, it’s about guys you’ve never heard of making bargain-basement money taking the mound to open the action.

In Boston? A place where third and fourth starters used to be former Cy Young winners and guys making $20 million a year.

Not anymore. Not in this economy. Not with this GM.

It’s a brave new world, Boston. Buckle up, ‘cause it might be a bumpy ride and I’m not sure many of us are going to enjoy the show this summer.

Ending on a positive note…

How ‘bout those Bruins and Celtics!

Sure, the Red Sox might be embarking on a lost season.

And maybe Tom Brady is turning his back on Patriot Nation.

But this is Boston, baby. We’re a true four-sport city with teams competing for titles and Duck Boat parades on an annual basis.

That means we all have the Bruins and Celtics to turn to in this time of tumult.

For their part easing our Red Sox- and Patriots-bred depressions, the Bruins are the best team in hockey. Now tied with Tampa as the odds-on favorites to win the Stanley Cup a year after coming up one game short. David Pastrnak is tied for the NHL lead with 46 goals and tied for third with 93 points for a Bruins squad that has eight more points than the Blues in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy.

Jump on the bandwagon casual hockey fans, I’m sure the diehard hockey nuts in our midst would love for you to join them on another Cup run!

And those fun-little Celtics? Despite injuries that have sucked the star power out of the lineup on a nightly basis of late, Brad Stevens’ club is well-positioned to make a run in the Eastern Conference and, just maybe, beyond.

Sure the Greek Freak and the best team in basketball remain in the way. Sure Kemba Walker’s old-beyond-its-years balky knee is far from ideal. Sure there are questions about big men, bench scoring and defense (Really, Caris LeVert for 51?).

But there is also a rising star named Jayson Tatum. A feel-good, try-hard story of developing Daniel Theis. And depth of starting lineup that might just be the best in basketball.

There is fun. There is potential.

Brady and the Red Sox might feel like they have the power to ruin your summah! But the Bruins and Celtics also have the potential to make this another special year in Boston sports.

The glass is still at least half full my friends!

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