Even while he’s making headlines, Tom Brady is ready to get back to work
Tom Brady has been in the news over the last couple of days, based around a few primary topics, but for one overwhelming reason – he’s Tom Brady.
It doesn’t take much to make headlines when you’ve won six Super Bowls and then positioned yourself as the lead character in pro football’s greatest new soap opera, Tom Goes To Tampa.
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— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) April 21, 2020
Because there is permanently a lot of noise surrounding figures of such generational gravitas, it takes a little work to sort through what of it can actually have some tangible impact on the next National Football League season, and what is just blather.
So, shall we? The news snippets surrounding Brady to start off this week were as follows…
First, TB12, his health and wellness brand, released a new product, a supplement touting “immune-boosting nutrients” and immune system recovery.
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) May 18, 2020
Next, Brady was widely panned for releasing said supplement at this current time, amid accusations that it was insensitive to do so during the coronavirus crisis.
Then, it emerged Brady had taken part in an informal training session with some of his new Buccaneers teammates at a private facility in Tampa.
And finally, that during the workout, he had given Bucs center Ryan Jensen specific and detailed instructions on how to fold a towel and, er, place it down his pants, to avoid his backside from becoming sweaty during games.
And yes, all of those were real storylines, each having been told and retold in several articles across multiple publications. Let’s break them down.
The nutritional supplement is called Protect, the latest product in the extensive TB12 line. A pack will set you back $45. It is non-FDA approved and, according to Orlando Weekly, is a “homeopathic medley of vitamins.” The outrage was because of the timing and the wording, which made repeated reference to the immune system — seen by some as a subtle way of capitalizing on coronavirus fears.
Personally speaking, as a sports fan, I don’t care much either way about Brady’s health business. Some people have tried the TB12 range and love it. Others didn’t. If the critics thought this week’s supplement release was in poor taste, they should try some of the offerings that are part of the TB12 meal plan. I did once. Not good.
While the nutritional stuff makes for some juicy tabloid fodder, there is not much of footballing import here. Next, then, to the training session. It was conducted on Tuesday morning at Berkeley Preparatory School, in Tampa, and lasted for two hours.
As well as Brady, quarterbacks Blaine Gabbert and Ryan Griffin were in attendance, along with receivers Mike Evans and Scotty Miller, tight ends Cameron Brate and O.J. Howard, running back Dare Ogunbowale, and Jensen, the aforementioned center. The workout was organized by Brady, not the team, according to the Tampa Bay Times. No team officials were present, per NFL rules.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) May 19, 2020
Okay, so this clearly matters — and it does so in a couple of different ways. Such gatherings are not unusual under typical circumstances, but these are not typical times. Any collective player workouts are notable at present, due to the difficulty in arranging such things under COVID-19-affected conditions.
That the session took place would appear to show Brady is hungry to get out there and keen to build some camaraderie with his new colleagues.
“The fact that we are in May and Tom Brady and his receivers already found a way to get on the field together should be a source of optimism for Bucs fans,” FOX Sports’ Nick Wright said on First Things First.
"I think the fact that we're in May and Tom Brady and his receivers already found a away to get on the field together should be a source of optimism for Bucs fans." — @getnickwright pic.twitter.com/LDVv4noz8z
— First Things First (@FTFonFS1) May 20, 2020
“Out of all the quarterbacks in the NFL, since Tom Brady is a little bit older, and older people do not like uncertainty, (he) values trust more than any other quarterback in the league,” added analyst Kevin Wildes on the show.
The session also matters in that it is a tangible potential boost. Sports in general, the NFL included, will try to do all they can to ensure as level playing field as possible when life returns to something nearer the previous normal.
However, this is one situation when there are different circumstances for different people. Florida has relaxed its lockdown guidelines enough that groups of less than 10 can congregate in such a manner, at a private facility, and work out. Other states have not. If you are the Rams or the 49ers, such a get-together is probably not going to happen yet. Advantage Brady, perhaps.
So that’s three. Didn’t we say there were four things? Oh yes, the butt sweat.
*Keys to a 21 year career https://t.co/EKrwOLMOIU
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) May 20, 2020
Now, there is a reason why we release this newsletter later in the day than most, and it is so you don’t have to read about butt sweat while you are eating breakfast.
Okay, so that’s not the real reason, but whatever. Jensen tweeted a photo of himself with Brady, with the QB holding a towel. “First you fold the towel once, then over itself again,” he wrote, before adding some extra details in colorful language that amounted to the use of baby powder and the positioning of the towel at the back of the wearer’s pants.
There is actually more to this than a fun tale, or as fun as a center’s sweaty behind can get. Although I don’t really want to make this a thing, it kind of is. A sweaty bum on a center can possibly mean a trace of sweat on a football. A trace of sweat on a football can, feasibly, mean a fumble, or an errant throw. And one turnover can mean the difference between Super Bowl glory and an early vacation, as Brady knows all too well.
Who goes to the trouble of teaching a center how to fold a towel to avoid the small chance that it might impact a play, say, once a season? Tom Brady does.
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) April 22, 2020
Maybe his advice to Jensen won’t make a shred of difference. Maybe the outcome of the upcoming campaign will still be exactly the same as if Brady hadn’t showed it to him. Or maybe it won’t.
Brady has a thousand such maybes, and he is who he is because he plans for all of them, as much as any human possibly can. Attention to detail matters, if you have enough detail.
Look, let’s take a step back. If you’re searching for some deep philosophy from today’s newsletter, let me know when you find it. It is the middle of a week when Brady made news four times — and some of the news, in a football sense, didn’t matter.
Some of the chatter was funny, some of it was a little awkward. But there’s really only one thing to take out of it all:
Tom Brady is not playing around. He’s getting to work.