Tom Brady
Tom Brady is back and he's out for vengeance
Tom Brady

Tom Brady is back and he's out for vengeance

Published Nov. 15, 2016 2:03 p.m. ET

The New England Patriots did just fine without Tom Brady.

Bill Belichick’s team sits at 3-1 atop the AFC East, clearly the class of the division. They would likely have no problem making the playoffs without one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the NFL.

But Touchdown Tom is coming back, and he has something to prove.


Tom Brady is out for vengeance.

Deflategate, Ballghazi, or, as the NFL gloatingly called it at the end, The Decision, lasted 623 days, including the four-game suspension to start this season. What started with a Bob Kravitz tweet turned into arguably the biggest legal drama in NFL history (and the NFL is a league known for its propensity to litigate.)

It’s over now. Brady is back with the Patriots after his forced exile to Europe, and he has to be eager to make up for lost time.

Brady might come across to the American public as a likable movie star — he’s handsome and sells mattresses and slippers, after all — but he’s also a maniac. There’s a reason he and Jim Harbaugh get along well.

Brady has refused to give up snaps in practice — even handoffs — because a backup getting practice snaps is "how I got my job,” but he takes the level of obsessiveness over his work to the next level.

Rodney Harrison told Sports Illustrated the story about how once, when he showed up to lift weights at 6:40 a.m, Brady was already in the team facility. “Good afternoon,” Brady told Harrison.

When Harrison showed up at 6:30 the next day, it was still “Good afternoon."

Harrison kept clocking in earlier — 10 minutes at a time. It was always “Good afternoon."

Finally, after coming in at 6 a.m., Harrison told Brady what he could do to himself and that he wasn’t going to come in any earlier.

Brady is relentless and ruthless when it comes to football, and that’s to the people he likes. Can you imagine how he treats his enemies?

Right now, the entire NFL is Brady’s enemy.

He loves playing football — he’s 39 and plans to play until he’s 45. Quarterbacks don’t last as long as Brady already has. There have been 18 quarterbacks on NFL rosters in their 40s, and only two — Brett Favre at age 40 in 2009 and Warren Moon at age 41 in 1997 — were worth having on the field. Brady clearly plans to shatter that expectation by being in bed at 8:30 every night and avoiding strawberries like they were made of arsenic.

Brady is obsessive over staying in top physical condition, because at this stage of his career, he can’t take a single game for granted.

Roger Goodell, behind what many argue is faulty science and with a sensed opportunity to consolidate power in the league office, took not only 20 months of Brady’s life but something more precious — four games.

Brady cannot let that stand. While the suspension has been served and Deflategate is over (the NFLPA has dropped all plans to further the case), Brady still has a chip on his shoulder. He has to make an example of this guy, right?

What’s coming in the final 12 games of 2016 might be the all-time middle-finger season. Who is the NFL MVP right now, Matt Ryan? Carson Wentz? What’s to say that Brady, playing like a man possessed after a bit of forced R+R, can’t overtake those guys? Nothing.

The Patriots are arguably the best team in the NFL. Their defense is among the league’s elite units and their offense, behind a revamped offensive line, has a chance to be diabolically good. That was without Brady.

Now you’re adding arguably the best quarterback in NFL history — the guy who threw 50 touchdown passes in 2007 and led the NFL with 36 last year (with a league-low 1.1 interception percentage) — to the mix. Rob Gronkowski is nearing full health, giving the Patriots arguably the two best tight ends in the game, the run game is clicking with LeGarrette Blount in the backfield, and Belichick — another guy not well known for his ability to drop a grudge — is running the show.

You know how this ends.

You can see it now. You know Brady has:

There he’ll be, No. 12, on the podium in Houston on Feb. 5, snagging the trophy out of Goodell’s fingers while staring down his now mortal enemy as confetti falls in honor of his victory.

Good afternoon.


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