In both physical appearance and social media buzz Tom Brady pretty much dominated Super Bowl LIV weekend in Miami, his first time not actually playing in the biggest game in sports in four years.
From his toying-with-Patriots’-fans’-emotions ad-teasing photo on Twitter right through Jimmy G. proving at this point he’s no TB12, Brady was a G.O.A.T.-shaped cloud hovering over all that was the grand conclusion of the NFL’s 100th season.
And make no mistake, Brady seemed to very much enjoy all the attention.
But in the end, now that we’re truly turning the page to the NFL offseason, one that may be the most critical offseason in Patriots franchise history, what did it really all mean in Miami?
A big ol’ steaming pile of nothing.
Sure we can all debate, as many did at the local Y during my Monday morning workout, whether Brady’s Hulu ad declaring that he’s “not going anywhere” was a simple reiteration of his previous declaration that he wasn’t retiring or a more direct, literal statement that his 2020 season would be played on the same Gillette Stadium turf where he filmed the commercial in late December.
Given the lack of a new agreement with the Patriots, or even a hint that one is in the oven, it would seem much more likely the former than the latter at this point.
From the Twitter explosion of analysis regarding the “cryptic” photo teasing the Hulu ad through its airing for hundreds of millions of eyeballs, Brady called it “pretty fun.”
If you say so, Tom. We’ll take your word for it.
Brady and many of the rest of the NFL’s 100 Greatest Players were on hand at Hard Rock Stadium for an impressive, red-jacket pregame ceremony. Brady got to rub elbows with boyhood idol Joe Montana and the other all-time great QBs.
He also was part of a New England reunion photo from the 100 Greatest alongside Rob Gronkowski, Randy Moss, Bill Belichick and Adam Vinatieri, some of his key cohorts from 20-years of dynastic dominance in Foxborough.
Pretty cool for even the most cynical curmudgeon.
But maybe the biggest Brady buzz of the weekend came during the interminable pregame shows leading up to Super Bowl LIV in which NFL Network and ESPN battled it out with nuggets regarding the quarterback’s immediate playing future.
NFLN got the South Beach snowball rolling with a report that the Patriots were willing to pay Brady “in excess of $30 million if that’s what’s required to keep him.” The same report indicated that the L.A. Chargers and Tennessee Titans are among the teams expected to make a push for the free-agent-to-be, while noting that New England’s contingency plans at the position include trading for a veteran passer.
That’s a lot to digest, but clearly the biggest takeaway is the idea that New England would be willing to go north of $30 million to keep a 42—year-old guy coming off a subpar season – both for Brady and the team that was bounced from the playoffs on Wild Card Weekend – after clearly not getting anywhere near that third-rail commitment last summer.
With NFL money and contracts the devil is always in the details. That’s even truer with Brady at this juncture given that there is $13-plus million of dead cap money hanging over the negations. Still, it’s borderline unbelievable that Bill Belichick and the Patriots would suddenly be willing to jump to more than $30 of actual new money on the multi-year deal it may take to secure Brady’s services.
Sorry, not buying.
Oh, and ESPN reports that just a couple weeks after Brady was seen hanging with Raiders owner Mark Davis at a UFC fight in Las Vegas, that team is preparing to pursue TB12 as it moves into its fancy new stadium under Jon Gruden’s leadership.
So what did we really learn with all the Brady Watch buzz from Super Bowl weekend?
Zip. Zilch. Nada.
Oh, there was that side helping of bupkis.
Brady had a little Rob Gronkowski-like fun mixing endorsement income with employment status update teasing, which even his pal Julian Edelman called “nuts.”
He wants to keep playing.
He may play for the Patriots in 2020.
He may not play for the Patriots in 2020.
He may be able to pick from a list of as many as 11 reported suitors, including much-talked-about destinations in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Nashville.
Really, it was a whole lot of TV, social media and internet blogging nothing new.
Other than the fact that it’s really Tom Brady’s world and the rest of us are just living in it, of course.