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Should Brady catch heat over comment?

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Greg Couch

Greg Couch has been a national columnist at AOL Fanhouse and The Sporting News and an award-winning columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. He was featured twice in "Best American Sports Writing" and was recognized by the US Tennis Writers Association for best column writing and match coverage. He covers tennis on his personal blog. Follow him on Twitter.

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It’s always nice when a famous athlete gets it, understands his role.

Yardbarker
Listen to Tom Brady encourage fans to 'start drinking early' and 'get nice and rowdy' before Sunday's game.

He sees the power of his celebrity, takes the responsibility seriously and puts himself in position to use it for public good. That’s why I’d like to be the first to thank Tom Brady.

With a rash, maybe an epidemic, of crimes and problems stemming from bad fan behavior, Brady is taking it on himself to help out before the New England Patriots home opener Sunday against San Diego. Across the country, fans have been shot, beaten into a coma, Tasered. So Brady came back with this advice for fans: “Start drinking early . . . Get rowdy . . . a lot of time to get lubed up and cheer for the home team.’’

Good for you, Tom Brady. Now, some cynical people are trying to twist those words to make it sound as if Brady is suggesting that fans get drunk in the hours before a 4:15 p.m. start. That would be irresponsible.

But it couldn’t be further from the truth. Still, the Patriots had to issue a release to clarify Brady’s comments for those who misunderstood. What the team says he really meant by that — as if there were ever any doubt — was this: “Stay hydrated, drink a lot of water, be loud, drink responsibly.’’

Brady was actually making a Public Service Announcement.

Maybe he fumbled the words a little. But it’s a great message. When you drink a lot of water, it not only helps you to feel healthy, but it also does foster rowdiness. Yes, get “lubed up’’ on Aquafina. Brady is worried about your health, your diet and probably your carb intake, too.

Pessimists will continue in disbelief. It will seem laughable to them that these sports teams and PR people can’t own up to a mistake even when the mistake is obvious, and the PR spin is even moreso. In fact, a PR spin like that would actually be insulting to fans.

But there is no way Brady would have been so irresponsible as to promote pregame drinking now.

Last month, two men were shot after a San Francisco 49ers-Oakland Raiders preseason game. Mayors from both cities called for a little sanity, and for an end to acts of violence at sporting events. It reminded everyone of the near-fatal beating this spring at a San Francisco-L.A. Dodgers baseball game.

At the Patriots-Miami Dolphins game this past week, there were an estimated 59 fights in the stands, according to the Palm Beach Post. In a three-hour game, that would mean roughly one fight every three minutes. 78 people were ejected.

On 9/11, a day when we mourned and looked deeply at ourselves and who we are and what we’re about, a Dallas Cowboys fan snuck an illegal Taser past security checks and into Giants Stadium, where he used it on New York Jets fans, including a Marine, during a fight. President Bush was at the game.

Jets coach Rex Ryan had said beforehand that “It’s probably not recommended that you wear Cowboys stuff, I would think.’’

Some people took that all wrong, too. Ryan later explained that he was not inciting or endorsing crowd violence, but rather saying “I don’t think our stadium needs to have visiting color jerseys.’’

It also was a PSA, as Ryan said that fan safety is important to him.

Now, drinking has become one of the most important aspects of sports.

Everyone knows. Tailgating and pregame parties stretch forever from nearly every stadium.

There is no use pretending it’s not going to happen. Still, a coach or a quarterback, or anyone else shouldn’t be egging it on.

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That’s why it’s so important to use positions of power and visibility to try to do good, the way Brady did. It’s just nice to know that a super-rich guy married to a supermodel (Gisele Bundchen) can stay in touch with the fans.

Of course, there is a small chance that maybe Brady was, in fact, encouraging drinking in this environment. Later, he wasn’t big enough to just say that he’d made a mistake, and was sorry. So the Patriots’ PR department gave so little thought to it that it gave a cockamamie story that even they know that no one would believe.

Nah. If that’s the case, then Brady and the Patriots are simply full of B.S.

And when I say that, I don’t mean it in a profane way.

I’m just concerned about whether they’re taking in too much fiber.

Tagged: Patriots, Tom Brady

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