Laird: Tom Brady should have taken Bill Belichick over pride

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I don’t think this is what Tom Brady had in mind when he told his wife Gisele a few years ago that “I just want to be appreciated and have fun.”

Just how green is that grass looking at Derek Jeter’s rental property right now, Tom?

After a 27-24 Tampa Bay loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Monday night, Brady once again became the national story for the wrong reasons: deep-ball inaccuracies, overall primetime inadequacy, poor postgame sportsmanship, and what appears to be continuing QB-coach friction.

I didn’t think it was possible, but Brady’s reputation is taking a hit. And his new boss is one of those delivering the body blows.

Maybe right now Brady is feeling the same way many of us do while watching him: he never should have left New England, and agreeing to play for Bruce Arians was a flat mistake.

Arians is the definition of the phrase honest to a fault, or in Brady’s case honest about his faults. The Buccaneers' coach just can’t help telling it as he sees it to the media, and that truth serum continued to flow after Brady’s attempt at a 48th career game-winning drive came up empty.

“I felt very, very comfortable in the two-minute drill… until that throw,” Arians said in regards to Brady’s second interception of the game. “Misread of the coverage.”

Ouch.

Later in the post-game press conference, Arians defended his running back Leonard Fournette by, in-part, blaming the sacred Goat. ““Leonard probably should’ve caught ― he can catch ― two out of those three. Tom can throw a better ball, too, so it’s a combination of both.”

And for good measure, the TB12 coaching clinic continued the morning after with Arians declaring, “We’ve got the guys open. We’ve just missed ‘em. I think we can do a better job of utilizing the deep ball in our game plan… But when they’re there, we need to hit ‘em… we can’t overthrow ‘em.”

I’ll ask again, is this the “appreciation” Brady was asking for? Belichick might not have been an affection heaper, but he was no mud heaver, either. Admit it, Tom, you miss Bill. You made a mistake in leaving him behind.

Brady was meant to be a Patriot for life. He made a career out of being the overachiever, pick No. 199. He embodied being a team player, taking less money for the betterment of the collective. And Belichick was the perfect framework for that collective, providing the structure that allowed Brady’s talent, intelligence, and work ethic to shine over the course of a dynastic marathon.

Why, just a few miles before the finish line, did Brady decide to take a short cut?

The Tom Brady we knew didn’t abandon course to build a super team in the tropics, while deciding to maximize every free agent dollar and demanding that Rob Gronkowski and Antonio Brown accompany him wherever he goes.

The Tom Brady we knew also didn’t skip post-game handshakes with opposing quarterbacks after losses, either. The whole Tompa Bay ordeal just feels unwholesome. Brady seems to have lost his soul in this process.

That’s not to say that Belichick doesn’t bear some of the responsibility for driving Brady out, nor for that matter owner Robert Kraft who allowed this all to happen.

But in hindsight, Brady should have just taken that one-year offer the Pats extended, as reported by WEEI’s Dale Arnold. He should have swallowed his pride and tapped into his ‘Four Agreements’ mantra of not taking anything personally. As the great Marcellus Wallace said in ‘Pulp Fiction’, “Pride only hurts, it never helps.” Let’s just hope Brady - now Bruce Willis’ character Butch Coolidge in my scenario - doesn’t end up limping into a pawnshop after running down a guy with a car.

As a result of the New England departure, Brady is the one getting verbally run down by criticism and narratives.

How about the latest via Michael Silver of NFL Network by way of Giants head coach Joe Judge, with Judge admitting that he and a number of ex-Pats staffers are of the belief that Brady was a product of the Patriots “system,” a scheme that offset many of his shortcomings including “throwing deep, throwing outside the numbers, and moving in the pocket."

Double ouch.

Brady comes off a four-week stretch where he is 1-of-19 on passes traveling 20 or more yards in the air, and Judge’s words are ringing true.

As for the money Brady would have left on the table had he stayed, was the extra $15 million he signed for worth this staining of his legacy? Easy for me to say, perhaps, but I can’t imagine even $40 million more over a two-year contract making one bit of difference in Brady’s life or those of his children.

No, this departure was more about ego and respect than cash. There is fault to go around for Brady not finishing his career in New England, but this much is clear as the calendar nears December: Brady still had a choice to stay or to go, and he chose wrong.