Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Adam Schefter's bizarre Tom Brady report keeps looking stranger

Alex Reimer
April 23, 2018 - 3:03 pm

Adam Schefter’s Twitter feed usually serves as the place of record for NFL news and rumors. If Schefter attaches his name to a story, it’s viewed as gospel. That’s why his circuitously worded report last week about Tom Brady’s uncertain, yet pretty certain status for the upcoming season was puzzling from the start.

And that was before Brady’s agent, Don Yee, told Schefter he expects his client to play this year. "Tom's intentions have not changed," Yee said on Monday. "He's consistently said he'll play beyond this contract and into his mid 40s, or until he feels he isn't playing at a championship level. I understand the constant speculation, but this is one point he's been firm about.”

Brady has said before he thinks he will return for the 2018 campaign. When asked about his future before the Super Bowl, he committed to coming back

There have been a few twists since then, as Brady’s reported rift with Bill Belichick apparently hasn’t subsided. In the final installment of “Tom vs, Time,” Gisele Bundchen delivers a monologue about her husband’s desire to “feel appreciated” at work. Brady closes the series with a rumination about losing his conviction to play football. 

NBC Sports’ Tom Curran, one of the most plugged-in local beat writers, has raised the (slight) possibility of Brady walking away for some time. “I’ve tried to ferret out a hard answer that Tom (Brady)’s going to play in 2018, and I still haven’t been able to pin that down,” Curran said last week on his “Quick Slants” podcast. 

Adding to the speculation, Brady and Rob Gronkowski both have been absent from the Patriots’ voluntary offseason workouts. 

Schefter’s story from last week expounds on Curran’s anecdote with at least two anonymous sources. The first one says “my money would be on (Brady) playing football for the foreseeable future, but what goes on away from the football field, I don't know.”

The second one waffles even more. "I believe (Brady is) going to be there,” the source said. “However, having said that, we're dealing with a human being. Things can change. But I do believe he will be playing.”

In summation: Brady is expected to return, but hasn’t officially said it. According to that logic, every player who doesn’t explicitly announce his intentions to keep playing is on the verge of retirement.

Schefter tried to clarify his report Monday after Yee’s comments. “Just last week, multiple sources said they believed Brady would return for 2018, but didn’t know it,” he tweeted. “One source estimated there was a ’75 percent’ chance that Brady would be back. He is.”

It looks like Schefter was either misled, played or embellished a story to create content for the WorldWide Leader. It’s hard to imagine Schefter jeopardizing his reputation for some clicks, so let’s dismiss the latter possibility. 

Oftentimes, journalists are at the mercy of their sources. It’s apparent Schefter, who has a long history of vetting out news stories, believed his anonymous sources’ speculation carried some legitimacy. It also seems like people close to Brady have been talking, since Curran has reported similar hearsay. 

But folks who have been truthful in the past can be deceptive. Given the careful wording of Scheffer’s report, it seems like he may have carried some doubts, too. He basically disproves his own scoop in the lede.

“New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady still has not committed to playing in 2018, even though people who know him believe he will be back for the coming season,” he writes. 

Nothing in Scheffer’s story can quantifiably be proven wrong. The question is, did he have enough to go to print? Following Yee’s comments, it seems like Schefter got ahead of himself. 


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