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Brady Has The Most to Lose By Missing OTAs

Sports writers and talk show hosts throughout New England and the rest of the country have had a field day speculating on the reasons why Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have decided to skip the Patriots’ OTAs.  

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Neither player has given a believable reason for his absence, and Head Coach Bill Belichick has stated that he only wants to talk about the players in attendance.  Which leaves us all to speculate and let our imaginations run wild.

The reasons behind Gronkowski’s “hold-out” appear to be strictly monetary – the dude wants to get paid.  Gronkowski’s 2018 contract ranks only fifth among NFL tight ends, and just sneaks into the top 20 when compared with wide receivers.  You can’t blame the guy for wanting to be paid for the numbers he puts up, regardless of the position he plays on the field.

The motivations behind Brady’s absence are far less obvious. 

A desire for a new contract could be a factor.  Brady ranks only 18th on the salary list for quarterbacks (Jimmy Garopollo ranks first, by the way).  However, Brady has never sought to be among the highest paid QBs in the game, choosing instead to sign team friendly deals in the interest of getting a better supporting cast around him.  In addition, his wife Gisele was among the highest paid women in the world, so the Brady family will not need to clip coupons to help make ends meet.  Why then would Brady suddenly make money an issue?

Brady may have more personal issues with Belichick himself that are keeping him away from the Foxborough practice fields.  By all accounts, Belichick appeared poised to move on from Brady in favor of Garoppolo as the future Patriot QB.  That is until team owner Bob Kraft intervened and forced Belichick to trade Garoppolo.  Then came Belichick’s banishment from Gillette Stadium of Brady’s personal trainer and TB12 partner Alex Guerrero.  Followed by Belichick’s still unexplained benching of Malcolm Butler in the Super Bowl which probably cost Brady his sixth Super Bowl ring.

The fact that Brady is now older and wants to spend time with his family, or that he had some business commitments to attend to simply do not fit with the persona Brady has established for himself.  Brady has always been obsessed with perfecting his craft and putting the team above all else, yet he has chosen to forego working with an almost entirely new stable of receivers.

The possible reasons for Brady’s absence from OTAs could be any one or a combination of the reasons listed above.  Ultimately it does not matter why he is not there.  The bigger question to me is, in the long run, who stands to lose the most with the fans?

Belichick?  In the short-term, the coach appears to be the bad guy in the scenario.  Kraft?  One would assume he would have the cache to get both Belichick and Brady on the same page for the overall good of the team.  But while Belichick and Kraft come off as culpable in this affair, neither stands to lose the adoration of the fans as much as Brady himself.

Brady’s near spotless reputation has already taken a hit by his recent actions, though die-hard Brady fans will make the case that it is all Belichick’s fault.  But will those fans be making the same excuses if the Patriots get off to slow start to the season, and Brady's play is cited as a reason?  If Brady is out of sync with the receivers?  Or if Brady shows signs that his skills are beginning to decline at the age of 41? 

If Brady’s performance in 2018 is not up to his normal level, it will be inevitable that a connection will be made to his lack of off-season work, his lack of training and focus on football.  Critics will call him out for his lack of commitment to the team and his failure to get in the necessary reps.  All the questions swirling around Brady now will return in full force if he or the team stumbles out of the gate.

Whatever the reasons for his absence, Brady has chosen to put his own interests ahead of the best interests of the team.  He has chosen to give evasive excuses and post coy Instagram photos of him throwing a football instead of actually getting on the field with his teammates to prepare for the 2018 season.  He has chosen to jeopardize his boy scout image to stick it to his boss.

I have said it before, and I will say it now again – the end of the Brady Era will not be pretty.  And after all he, Belichick, Kraft and the team have achieved over the past two decades, it is a shame that this was allowed to happen.

Follow Bill on Twitter @BTravers_BSoT. 

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