How realistic is a 19-0 gift for Tom Brady?
What do you get a guy with seemingly everything for his 40th birthday?
In the case of Tom Brady, it’s a trick question because for someone who professes, and appears to follow, values and work ethic out of some old Chip Hilton book, he doesn’t want to be given anything. He’d just like the chance to work for it.
“Just got to catch the ball, that’s all he wants,” tight end Rob Gronkowski told the media Wednesday.
You can – and many do – roll their eyes at Brady’s endless talk about preparation and opportunity, and the joy of focusing on this single rep of this single practice rather than fourth-quarter drives or Super Bowls or legacy.
It’s how he got here though, August drills leading to five rings. It’s how he doesn’t panic even when he’s sprawled out after a futile tackle attempt, watching Robert Alford return an interception to give Atlanta a seemingly insurmountable Super Bowl lead.
Someone recently dusted off an old local television clip of Brady being interviewed as a high school senior in San Mateo, California, where he described his game.
“Everybody tells me I have a pretty strong arm, which is good,” Brady said then. “I’m pretty accurate with it. I think I need to work on my speed a little bit, but hopefully that will come in time. Pretty good work ethic so I think I can get the job done.”
He was 18 then. Not much has changed.
So don’t bother wrapping anything up for Brady. And understand that Brady is never really looking for new challenges, just accomplishing the old ones again – getting the job done, if you will. He’ll tell you each Super Bowl, each victory, each touchdown pass is as sweet and as satisfying as all the others.
When it comes to football though there’s probably only one thing left that Brady hasn’t managed, the one thing that at 40 he could do that he never did before – go 19-0.
Brady is a team player and that’s the ultimate team accomplishment.
Yes, it’s absurd to hang a perfect season out there as something tangible to accomplish, rather than just something glorious that might occur en route to winning the Super Bowl (which is no less sweet after an 11-5 regular season).
It’s not unfair though. It just speaks to Brady’s greatness. What else is there? He’s done everything. It’s more in line with team play, or important results (winning is always the goal, after all), than say, reclaiming the single-season touchdown pass record from Peyton Manning, or throwing for 5,500 yards or any other individual stat.
Oh, and the New England Patriots are loaded this year which means tossing out the possibility of something that has never happened (the 1972 Miami Dolphins went 17-0) isn’t out of the question.
USA Today, among others, has predicted it. In Vegas, New England is the favorite in all 16 regular-season games (the shortest odds are as a 1.5-point favorite at Pittsburgh in Week 15). Online bookmaker prop bets of a generic NFL team going 19-0 (let’s assume no one is wagering this with an eye on the Jets) are running anywhere from 12-1 to 20-1.
“It’s even stupid to think about that,” wide receiver Julian Edelman told the Boston Herald. “It’s never been done. You don’t really want to talk about it. My focus is more on trying to get ready for the season, trying to learn your teammates, form you identity. It’s stupid. That’s it.” [/restrict]