Tom Brady has defeated Father Time.
Now he must defeat Bradshaw Envy.
The other Hall of Fame ‘TB’ quarterback, former Pittsburgh Steelers QB Terry Bradshaw, bludgeoned TB12 in The Athletic recently, saying “Why in the world does (Brady) want to keep on playing at 43 other than to prove to New England he’s more important than Bill Belichick? Why the hell do you want to go to Tampa? The only thing I can think of is ego gets involved and you decide, ‘I’ll show ‘em who’s more important.’”
Oh, the horror, a superstar professional athlete has an ego.
Of course, Brady thinks highly of himself. With almost every other athlete, this is celebrated and accepted as part of the job description. From Ali to LeBron, from Kobe to Deion, belief in oneself has been intertwined with success.
Bradshaw continued: “I would never have done that. I’ve never known a great quarterback - a great quarterback - at the end of his career, go to another team and do anything. I could never have played for anybody but Pittsburgh, all right?”
Look, nobody - even in my hometown of the ‘Burgh - has ever confused Bradshaw with Noam Chomsky, but this is dumb even by Hollywood Henderson’s standards.
Bradshaw left pro football almost a decade before the NFL embraced free agency. Why would he ever have wanted to leave that stacked team, even if he had the choice? I don’t remember the Blond Bomber playing a season with Marshall Newhouse as his tackle.
And while Chuck Noll may not have always been a warm and cuddly boss for Bradshaw, I’ll wager that nobody in the remote category of Brady’s greatness has ever been less appreciated by his coach in sports history. Terry has no idea what Tom has put up with.
The list of Brady’s Hoodie grievances are well documented: average Joe treatment behind the scenes, belittling during film sessions, lack of public support during DeflateGate, a Belichick - Jimmy G love affair, an Alex Guerrero rift, the Malcolm Butler benching (costing Tom his 7th Lombardi), and embarrassing excuses for contract offers.
How does Brady emerge from that as the bad guy?
Maybe Belichick’s “aura” has clouded Brady’s perception around the football world.
Even Brady’s football “father” Bob Kraft stabbed the once-favorite son in the back last week, blaming Brady for the departure from Foxboro.
What did Brady do in return? Incredibly, he continued to shower RKK with respect and love during his introductory Tampa Bay media appearance this week, only mustering up the critique that he is “not responsible for how other people will say certain things.”
It must be killing Brady on the inside to turn that other cheek.
But as my friend Gerry Callahan frequently pointed out, the one thing Brady could never do was hold a grudge. Brady once told Gerry on WEEI that if he did so, “it bothers me more than it bothers the other person.”
So instead, it’ll be more internal fuel. A new Kraft-Belichck chunk of the chip on his shoulder.
But this isn’t just about Bradshaw, Belichick and Kraft disrespecting The Goat, it’s about a national phenomenon that has now spread even to New England with Brady’s departure.
Brady Derangement Syndrome. The Brady smear campaign is evolving.
If the worst you can say about a guy is that he’s addicted to posting positive social media messages, what are we complaining about?
I’ve fallen in the trap, too. With every new Hulu ad and Instagram post during the final divorce, it started to feel like No. 12 wanted to ensure No. 1 storylines daily and I’ve criticized him for changing.
Maybe it’s my jealousy and envy that’s the problem, not Brady trying to live his best life.
Brady is far closer to saint than Satan, and for some reason it always feels the opposite. Let’s hope that as the Tompa Bay era plays out, the Brady Derangement peddled by Bradshaw and others won’t continue to spread in the six New England states that he once claimed as home.
His former bosses have chosen the smear campaign, so it’s on the fans and media to be better. The greatest athlete in Boston sports history deserves to be celebrated, not ridiculed.