Bradford: Why Boston sports fans are so fascinated by this Tom Brady/Bruce Arians adventure

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“Schadenfreude”

Put it on the bumper stickers.

In case you weren’t familiar: “Pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune.” Schadenfreude, a noun emanating from the German words from "harm" and "joy."

Welcome to the 13 letters that have become the perfect placeholder for New England sports fans until the Tom Brady statue is commissioned.

Yes, there is some surface-level intrigue when it comes to these Patriots. And the Gordon Hayward saga certainly has some juice in these parts. But there has been nothing of late that drove the sports conversation buzz this past week like the relationship between Tom Brady and Bruce Arians. Nothing.

Talk radio. Internet. Talking heads TV shows. It was the straw that stirred this week's drink.

But why?

In this, the most provincial of sports fan bases, we have found ourself leaning on drama in Florida of all places. And while the walk-into-the-wrong-house/Antonio-Brown-guest-house/Jet-Ski-escape storylines were all fun to keep the Brady conversation going, this one is different.

This has shown a side of New England sports fans most have long-denied.

When I wrote a column, "Sorry, it's hard to be happy for Tom Brady," there was predictable push-back. How dare you root against the man who brought so much joy to so many! My explanation: I can't help how I feel. Brady had morphed into a far-too-weird version of himself, leaving a plant-based bad taste in my mouth.

But now? The bandwagon is getting full.

Face it, when Brady's Buccaneers face off with Kansas City Sunday the majority of New England sports fans will be rooting for every deep ball to sail 20 feet over Brown's head. Running backs dropping balls? Yes, please. And there will absolutely be great joy in seeing Tampa Bay drop to 7-5.

You should understand this, however: For most, this switcheroo isn't about disliking Brady. It's a big old fat "I told you so" when it comes to the importance of Bill Belichick and the Patriot Way.

Most didn't want to take sides when it came to the worn-out question regarding who was more responsible for the Patriots' success, Brady or Belichick? They wanted a tie. Arians has allowed this.

Simply put, the uneasiness when it comes to Brady's current lot in life has allowed Patriots Nation to do what it does best -- circle the wagons.

Tedy Bruschi. Christian Fauria. Rob Ninkovich. Former Patriots who haven't been shy in slinging criticism Arians' way when it comes to the perceived mess in Tampa Bay. The offense. The postgame comments. The lack of understanding what this coach has as his franchise's face. It has gone past head-scratching and stormed straight to flat-out vitriol.

And while Patriots fans clearly would prefer to be pounding their chests thanks to a non-negotiable Cam Newton-produced success story, that isn't really an option quite yet. This will have to do.

The good news for those enjoying this ride is that there doesn't seem to be an end in sight any time soon. Sure, Brady and Arians could come out and answer their critics with a statistic-filled stiff-arm. They have, after all, executed such a response at least a couple of times already this season. But just wait for it. The reality will bubble up soon enough.

Arians is 68 years old. He has had some success doing it his way. That combination will almost always lead one to not exactly open their arms to the kind of drastic change so many are suggesting has to happen. For instance, the one time he tried to not be totally honest -- saying Brady knew how many downs he had in the loss the Bears -- it came off as so awkward, ineffectual and insincere that it was easy to imagine Arians muttering immediately after, "I'm not doing that again."

And he hasn't. He has been Bruce Arians. And Tom Brady remains Tom Brady.

Because of it all, at least for the time being, the most popular sport in Boston is unfolding 1,336 miles from Gillette Stadium.

Patriots fans, sit back and enjoy the show. The unveiling is just a few years away.