Support the news

Tom Brady, Lunch-Pail Hero?

This article is more than 9 years old.
Tom Brady directs the Patriots' offense in a pre-season game on Thursday. (AP)
Tom Brady directs the Patriots' offense in a pre-season game on Thursday. (AP)

When an athlete pressures management to re-negotiate an existing contract he’s usually decried as a selfish millionaire without any perspective. But what happens when he puts his faith in management, keeps his disagreements private so as not to detract from his team’s accomplishments, and plays out the length of his contract?

Nothing, apparently.

With the 2010 New England Patriots season weeks away, quarterback Tom Brady has no contract for the 2011 season. In the final year of his current deal, Brady is speaking volumes by doing something unusual: quietly going about his business.

In the NFL, not having a multi-year contract is almost unheard of. When players suffer injuries, they may never earn another paycheck. Brady played 17 snaps in Thursday's pre-season game against New Orleans; each one could have been his last.

Many players recognize the fleeting nature of an NFL career and do everything in their power to maximize their payouts while they can. Often, they refuse to participate in practices or workouts and take their contract quarrels to the media in an effort to shame ownership into paying them more.

Right or wrong, in professional football, players protect themselves not just with shoulder pads and helmets, but with guaranteed long-term contracts.

A Hall of Fame quarterback who has won three Super Bowls, married the most famous supermodel on the planet, and has made hundreds of millions of dollars is going about his business like “the little guy."

Professional athletics is littered with prima donnas with both inflated egos and bank statements. Those athletes are taken to task from bars in Boston to kitchens in Kansas to sports sections in San Francisco. But in the rare instance when a player is being treated unfairly by management but chooses not to disrupt the team, those same judging fans should rush to his defense.

As the leader of three Super Bowl-champion teams and one of the game’s marquee talents, Tom Brady has been paid handsomely.

But how many stars do you know that would accept less money so that the team could afford to keep its nucleus together? Brady did in 2005, while negotiating his last contract. In the interim, Patriots owner Bob Kraft has largely refused to use the money Brady willfully gave up to pursue expensive complimentary pieces.

Thus far, Brady hasn’t created a media firestorm over his contract talks. He’s been tight-lipped and hasn’t become a training camp holdout. Because NFL free agency rules would make it easy for the Patriots to retain Brady should his contract run out, fans haven't heard much about Brady's situation.

Brady is still under contract and many would say that he shouldn’t be praised for merely living out terms he previously agreed to. Point taken. But if fans complain when a high-profile player gets into a high-profile spat, we should also praise a player who refuses to play that game ... by just playing the game. There's no question that Brady deserves a new contract.

It’s ironic that a Hall of Fame quarterback who has won three Super Bowls, married the most famous supermodel on the planet, and has made hundreds of millions of dollars is going about his business like “the little guy” would. It’s unbelievable that he’s not getting praised for it.

Growing up a sports nut outside of Boston, most of my best childhood memories are linked to championship seasons by the Sox, Pats and Celtics. Despite Brady’s prime role in those fond memories, I hope he doesn’t put on a Pats uniform until he negotiates a new contract.

I’ve always rooted for Tom Brady, now isn’t any different.

This program aired on August 13, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

Jeremy Bernfeld Producer
Jeremy Bernfeld was formerly a producer for WBUR.

More…

+Join the discussion
TwitterfacebookEmail

Support the news