Jim Gray, friend of Tom Brady, gets philosophical on M&C and rebukes Max Kellerman

Alex Reimer
February 01, 2019 - 9:45 am

Tom Brady will never publicly rebuke Max Kellerman or directly acknowledge his existence –– and for good reason. So we’ll have to settle for Jim Gray, which is the next best thing.

In an interview Friday with “Mut & Callahan” from Radio Row, Gray talked about the life lessons he’s learned from his friend Tom Brady –– and Chuck Daly, George Steinbrenner, Mike Tyson, Alex Spanos, Oprah Winfrey,  Stedman Graham, and Jack Nicholson. 

Though Gray said Brady doesn’t watch much TV or listen to sports talk radio, he’s aware of the criticism lobbed in his direction. “I think that chip from being drafted No. 199 has never left him,” Gray explained. “And I think all of this stuff –– not Max Kellerman, because Tom will tell you he’s not at home watching this staff. He may hear about it, it’s brought to his attention, but it’s not like he’s seeking it out. I have another friend who always tell me, ‘Don’t worry about your enemies bringing bad news. Your friends will do just fine.’ Everybody makes him aware of it, so he is aware of it, and it all contributes. What was Julian hollering at him last week? ‘You’re too old!’ And a couple weeks ago he said to Tracy Wolfson, ‘Everyone thinks we suck.’ So he does hear this, even if he’s not Googling himself or listening to the radio or participating in that aspect of it. Everyone said, ‘This is it.’”

Gray went on to address Kellerman specifically, saying the talking head’s Brady hate has clearly become part of his schtick. 

“As far as Max is concerned, he’s been doing this on television since he took his role over from Skip Bayless,” Gray said. “He’s picked this as an issue, and he’s been wrong on this issue, and I have tremendous respect for Max, known him for a long time. He’s a boxing expert and a very smart guy. But it’s more of a reflection on him at this point –– this assessment, than it is of Tom. Of course, at some point, every athlete will be diminished. So at some point he will be right. But he’s three or four years ahead of it. And it just becomes insane now for a guy who’s played in three straight Super Bowls to say, ‘He’s done.’ What’s the indication that you have in front of you that leads you to that assessment? But it attracts viewers.”

Gray probably spends more time with Brady than any other member of the media, accompanying him on some offseason trips, such as his sojourn to Oprah’s home last spring. The longtime broadcaster, who interviews Brady every week on Westwood One during the NFL season, says he thinks Brady is much more relaxed this year, because the tribulations of last season are behind him.

“First of all, it’s so hard to lose a Super Bowl. I don’t care you are. Whether you’ve won five, or that’s your only chance,” he said. “Chuck Daly was my best friend –– my mentor. He introduced me to my wife. Chuck Daly won two championships with the Pistons, was a great coach in the Final Four in his college days, was the Dream Team coach. He never got over the fact that Isiah Thomas threw the ball away at the Boston Garden, and they lost that game. He died being more upset about that than joyous about what had occurred later in his life. I think these things haunt –– and maybe they don’t discuss it, or only discuss it with those who they’re most intimate with. I have not had this conversation with Tom –– but I do believe, and I have asked him his before, ‘Do you think more about David Tyree and Mario Manningham, or Malcolm Butler and what happened in your first three?’ And he says, ‘Well, I think about them all.’ But I think to answer your question now, losing the Super Bowl is hard. Having that strip-sack is tough. And to be 40 years old, going on 41, you don’t know if you’re going to have another chance. You don’t want that to live in your head for however long it’s going to live. I just think now, at the beginning of the season, whatever acrimony there was last season, is behind him. You’ve got to be ready for what’s next. You can’t be in the rearview mirror. I think everyone has put it behind them, whatever it was. And you can’t have any of the drama going on, and perhaps the performance of the team wasn’t as good, but there was a calmer atmosphere. Maybe Bill has made it calmer, the thing with Alex (Guerrero) hasn’t been an issue. Julian (Edelman) came back. From a distance, it seemed like a much calmer sea.”