Laird: The NFL should be wary of the Tom Brady Effect


Tom Brady didn’t fall off Max Kellerman’s cliff, but he did start the NFL down a slippery slope.

Star quarterbacks will increasingly hold Brady’s Super Bowl LV title aloft as Exhibit A evidence as to why they, too, should be involved in personnel decisions and management hires.

“Bruce Arians let Brady coach, Jason Licht let him hand-pick Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette and Rob Gronkowski, and look what happened,” they’ll say. “Why shouldn’t I be consulted, too?”

And if these players are not listened to by the powers that be? It’s whine time. Or in the words of Denis Lemieux, “trade me right f&*^ing now!” time.

Now, we’re in luck here in Boston because we appear to be bereft of, you know, star QBs who might cause this ruckus.

But overall, I’m worried. Is this the LeBronification of the league? Where coaches are reduced to puppets, signed contracts are rendered meaningless, and rebuilds are met with insurrection?

We have officially entered the sulky signal-caller stage of professional football, and it could rip the whole league as we know it apart.

In Brady’s case, after 20 seasons and now as the unquestioned football GOAT, he deserves some say in what’s happening around him. But where does it end? Can the top-five QBs ask for franchise oversight? Top-10? Should quarterbacks have input on the defense? The training staff? The marketing department? And God forbid they’re left out of a team’s social media hype video.

The league’s parity has been it’s hallmark, keeping fanbases of every franchise engaged with the true hopes of competing year to year. But if the Brady Effect spreads, will we see the same five to ten big markets or warm-weather cities in control as star QBs pick their preferred destinations?

There are already troubling trends, as we’re currently in the land of Dissatisfied Deshaun and Riled-up Russell.

I wasn’t aware that the ‘Let Russ Cook’ catchphrase for Russell Wilson was about him cooking dinner with the groceries that he shopped for, too. But there he was on the Dan Patrick Show this week, lusting after Brady’s life in Tampa Bay.

“One of the reasons why Tom went to Tampa was because he felt he could trust those guys and Bruce [Arians] to give him an opportunity,” Wilson told Patrick. “I think that relationship is really key, the dialogue, especially being a veteran player, is very important.”

When pressed as to whether he felt he should have personnel say, Wilson answered: “I think it helps to be involved more. That dialogue should happen more often in my opinion.”

Involved, sure. That makes some sense. But that wasn’t enough for Watson. The OG indignant was miffed at Houston ownership for trading teammate DeAndre Hopkins and then apparently incensed that a new boss was hired with the Texans “neither considering not consulting with those [candidates] endorsed by their franchise quarterback,” according to reporting from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Watson didn’t want to simply be involved; no, when his advice wasn’t heeded he took his ball and went home. Which puts us at the If-You-Can’t-Pick-Your-Boss-Demand-A-Trade stage, and it’s a sure sign we’ve lost our way.

Fans of the Texans and Seahawks should be able to cheer for Watson and Wilson for life. It would be a damn shame to see these players do a Durant.

Nobody nationally will cry for Pats fans who are dealing with the loss of Brady, and sure Bill Belichick deserves some blame for not keeping TB12 feeling appreciated. But watching Brady stumble around on the Tampa docks after this week’s championship boat parade just seemed unholy.

There went Brady, drunk with power for the rest of the league to see. No longer pleading the fifth to Jim Gray, no longer toiling thru Belichick’s mud as just another employee. The all-powerful in his own private yacht soaking up the sun.

Meanwhile, Arians and Licht were probably stuck in the cabin in straight-jackets while the inmates partied above deck. They are viewed as irrelevant to the year’s success, other than the praise they get for relinquishing power to Brady.

If the NBA is super-team or bust, and MLB is homerun or strikeout, the NFL is now trending toward the haves and have-nots, the star QB or not. One position decides it all. It’s the Brady Effect, it’s unsettling, and it’s only just begun.