(WEEI) Tom Brady is the GOAT. As such, he's earned the right to skip the New England Patriots' "voluntary" OTA workouts as he approaches his 42nd birthday, even under the "No Days Off" mantra of Bill Belichick.
So it's certainly no surprise that for the second straight spring Brady decided to forgo the NFL equivalent of office hours and corporate face time at Gillette Stadium to work out on his own -- when, where and how he wants to. For good measure he's balanced out beach runs with business partner Alex Guerrero with throwing sessions with go-to guy Julian Edelman and New England top pick N'Keal Harry.
That personalized offseason plan took a break this week as Brady has joined his Patriots teammates for the mandatory three-day minicamp at Gillette Stadium.
And while Brady and Rob Gronkowski skipping out on all the OTAs including "passing camps" was a pretty hot topic last offseason, TB12 and trade-addition pass rusher Michael Bennett staying away from the workouts this time around hasn't really resonated.
Why? Well, the fact that Brady led the Patriots the 13-3 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII last February in Atlanta is obviously the biggest reason. The ends justified the means.
Really, that win over Sean McVay's somewhat overmatched squad may have basically guaranteed that Brady would skip out on OTAs yet again in 2019 and moving forward.
Whether Brady's numbers took a dip in the 2018 regular season or not, the Patriots won another ring. Regardless of the lackluster aerial attack at times in the Super Bowl remembered more for punts than passing plays, New England brought another Lombardi Trophy back to Gillette.
To Brady, and his boss Belichick, that's all that matters.
But what would have happened if the Patriots had come up short of the ultimate goal this past postseason? What if the Chiefs had won the coin toss in the AFC title game in Kansas City and driven to a spot in the biggest game in sports? What if Jared Goff had seen Brandin Cooks wide open in the end zone a tick earlier or Stephon Gilmore hadn't made a game-clinching interception?
The guess? Brady probably would have reconsidered his offseason plans.
If you're Brady, it's one thing to skip last spring's workouts after throwing for 500 yards and doing all you could -- late fumble aside -- in a Super Bowl shootout loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. That's a scenario in which even the most passionate 40-something competitor can convince himself that more time with his family, more time with his guru and more time away from the structure of the team is OK.
But could one of sports' all-time great competitors -- a guy who is Michael Jordan-level, win-at-all-costs to the point that beer chugging once got his adrenaline going -- really take it easy for another offseason coming off consecutive Super Bowl failures, the latest a slugfest in which he was far from his big game best?
As Brady recently told Jimmy Kimmel, "I've always felt for me in my live winning has been a priority."
Now, certainly his family and other interests are also a "priority" at this point in his life. But had he lost last February in Atlanta, had Goff knocked off the man trying to controversially trademark the nickname Tom Terrific, smart money says he may have reevaluated his offseason plan.
It's hard to imagine Brady coming off a subpar game in a Super Bowl loss without at least acknowledging internally that offseason and OTA work with his teammates -- that work he put in for the bulk of his career that so famously and so often earned him the top parking spot outside the football offices at Gillette Stadium -- might just have made a difference.
Is that difference one percent? One-tenth of one percent? Whatever it is or might be, Brady would have been pondering it and may have been having difficult conversations at home trying to sell his supermodel wife, Gisele Bundchen, on a different, throwback offseason workout plan this spring.
But, alas, the good news is that Brady and his family never had to cross that bridge. The Patriots did win in February, thanks to an impressive defensive effort and just enough plays from Brady, Edelman, Gronkowski, Sony Michel and the rest on offense.
So Brady made his practice field debut with him teammates in Foxborough once again during this week's mandatory minicamp. He begins to accelerate the process with practically a new corps of receivers and tight ends, including top pick Harry.
Why? Because regardless of the details, Brady's plan worked a year ago to the tune of a new Super Bowl ring to add to his collection later this week in a big party in Robert Kraft's backyard.
Only in the DVD version alternate ending or some Choose Your Own Adventure kids book does Brady take part in OTAs. Because all Brady wants is to win and what he did a year ago was good enough to do just that. So he's repeating the plan again this spring and planning on the same end results.
All of Patriot Nation is rooting Brady's approach on, because the only likely way to get him to change would be a season that's not up to his or the Patriots championship-caliber standards.
And no one wants that.
By Andy Hart