1. While many middle-aged men are reaching for the Extenze, Tom Brady signed a multi-million dollar extension this past week. Adding insult to injury for onlooking 40-something-year-old dads, he also promptly put his modest $39.5 million dollar (or one year of Dak Prescott’s requested salary) Brookline, Mass., home on the market. And there’s one more little detail that people are reading into. Tom’s new deal gives him an out the first day of the 2020 league year. That’s right -- when free agency hits next year, for a few weeks you can even act like you never hated him at all before he makes it apparent that he doesn’t want to join your sh*tty team.
Even the greatest players to grace the gridiron have struggled at crafting tactful exit strategies, but I feel like Tom is immune to even this pitfall. Nevertheless, let’s play this game. Where’s Tom Brady Suiting Up In 2020?
Offensively, the second-best player in Patriots franchise history matriculated to pool party heaven this offseason, But on the other side of the ball, New England's defense looks to be even better than where it left off in '19. Whether or not the Patriots win their final game this season, I expect Brady to play well. Tense moments may trigger the annual media insistence that The Hoodie and No. 12 will soon file for divorce. Usually, they’re wrong. But let’s say they can no longer stay together for the kids. Let’s say the largest unconfirmed rift in professional sports finally opens wide and the Patriots dynasty finds itself in the canyon below.
Let’s get even crazier and hypothisize that Tom would like to wear a new uniform at 43 years old. There’s only one place I could see him going -- back to the Bay. And here’s how it happens. The Pats shipped Jimmy Garoppolo out West in 2017 for the 43rd overall pick and have parlayed that bounty into six players with more picks to come. Garappolo was once thought to be Brady’s heir apparent, and maybe he is after all.
Let’s say Jimmy G has a modest year (I don’t think he does) and looks like Tannehill 2.0. Next offsesaon, Brady hits the market and expresses interest in returning home to suit up for the team he adored as a teenager (in 1990). San Francisco releases Garoppolo and he ends up back in New England, where Belichick beautifully repurposes what’s perceived as damaged goods. New England will have no choice as the 2019 Brady-led Pats will play too well to land them a high pick in a QB-rich draft (unless they can convert their cache of picks into a top 10 prospect). The Italian Stallion leads the Pats to an unlikely Super Bowl berth where he meets -- you guessed it -- the GOAT.
Well, that last part might be totally crazy. You probably want what I’m smoking, but you’ll be disappointed when I tell you it’s just a lot of free time.
2. Speaking of NFL royalty wearing strange twilight colors, remember when Deacon Jones finished his career with the Chargers? Me neither. How about Joe Namath in the horns? Emmitt Smith’s Hall of Fame career died in the desert and Ronnie Lott suited up for the Raiders and Jets over a four-year span before calling it quits. This year, we’ll see Thomas Davis in San Diego and Terrell Suggs in Arizona. Will NFL fans of tomorrow remember AP reeling off 1,000 yards for the Redskins or Frank Gore looking ageless in Buffalo? They’re still playing at high levels, so maybe. Who’s the next NFL great to finish somewhere strange?
3. “But as far as paying players, professionalizing college athletics, that’s where you lose me. I’ll go do something else, because there’s enough entitlement in this world as it is.”
Those are the words of Dabo Swinney. He’s a hell of a good (and handsomely paid) head college football coach. And he’s got dumpster fire takes on amateurism and “entitlement.” So naturally, when I agreed with him on Kelly Bryant this past week, I was worried about my mental health. But here we are. Dabo claims that because Bryant willingly transferred four games into the championship 2018 season, he doesn’t get a championship ring. Imagine that. Swinney’s assertion (likely answering a question, not offering unsolicited commentary) didn’t go over well. Multiple Twitter.com personalities acted like Dabo had just kicked a baby.
I respect the fact that Bryant helped the Tigers beat A&M before losing the job to Trevor Lawrence, handled the move with class and that it was his right. And I hate to sound like an old man, but isn’t thinking Bryant deserves a ring...entitled? Bryant even went as far as calling last week’s momentary hysteria “not really a story.” So why do we care when he doesn’t seem to and where do we draw the line? I’m all for player mobility, but it comes at a price.
4. Jadeveon Clowney is one of the biggest, baddest names on the trading block as teams begin to break camp. And guess what, he’s underrated. Don’t let the numbers fool you. He’s as disruptive an “edge rusher” as there is in the league. The thing is, he lines up everywhere. Usually you’ll see him with his hand in the dirt in a "nine technique." But he lines up everywhere. Oftentimes, you’ll see him lined up over the center or guard as a “floater” or backer causing interior linemen headaches in protection or even in the run game. He’s instinctive, explosive and has a nose for the football. He’s an elite rusher who plays the run violently.
If you’re staring at his NFL.com bio and don’t watch endzone tape, 29 sacks in five years might make you wonder if he’s worth the money and attention. But if you’re a coordinator or an offensive lineman, you know all too well. He’s a rolling ball of butcher knives and he’s a guy you make a play for if you believe you’re one piece away. Last season, Clowney ranked 10th in pressures and 16th in QB hits. Paging Green Bay, Kansas City and especially the Seattle Seahawks. All three teams need edge help and have the cap space to pull it off. Houston may know something about his durability in future years that I don’t, but it’s a flyer I’d consider taking.
5. Antonio Brown’s two-week crusade to wear the same helmet as Conrad Dobler has finally come to an end. An arbitrator has ruled that Brown cannot wear the Schutt Air Advantage because it is made with a piece of foam from Ted Nugent’s Jet Ski. Initially, the Raiders newcomer expressed interest in walking away from 45 million dollars if he couldn’t wear the helmet known for accelerating the buildup of tau protein in the human brain. The inventor of the Air Advantage couldn’t be reached for comment because he’s been dead for 75 years.
In all seriousness, Brown's particular helmet is alleged to have come off of the assembly line in 2008. George Bush was President that year. The iPad had yet to be invented. Kyler Murray was 11 years old at the time. Michael Jackson was alive that year and I was writing school papers, not sh*tty columns.
6. I saw my friend Jimmy Traina had Stone Cold on his latest pod. I’d love to watch a TV show where Jimmy and Stone Cold Steve Austin had to switch lives for a month. Jimmy would have to immerse himself into Texas Ranch culture, hunting for large rattlesnakes and riding large ATVs. Austin would go to Yankees games repeatedly.
7. RANDOM YOUTUBE VIDEO OF THE DAY: Few people intrigue me more than Nicholas Cage, and few YouTube items are as criminally overlooked as this montage of the actor melting down masterfully onscreen. Cage recently tied the knot for the fourth time, and he did it in Las Vegas. Sadly, the marriage was brief. He filed for annulment just four days in. It turned out that, unbeknownst to Nick, his bride had a criminal record. He was also generally unaware that she was seeing other people. Well, technically if you’re seeing Nicholas Cage, you’re kind of seeing John Travolta. I do respect a man who doesn’t settle.
He doesn’t settle when it comes to the afterlife, either. He recently erected a pyramid-shaped tomb at a New Orleans cemetery, which will one day house his empty shell after his soul moves on to Valhalla. Nicholas Cage generally doesn’t f*ck around. A recent Google search of the Wicker Man star yields headlines like “Cage blew $150M on a dinosaur skull, pygmy heads and two European Castles.” As someone I greatly admire, I’d usually feel pretty bullish on whatever Cage has in his portfolio. But evidently these investments didn’t pan out. I’d like to take this opportunity to offer Nicholas Cage a full-time position at my new digital media company (I’m dead serious) as a content creator. If you’re reading this brother, come home.
Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on iTunes, Spotify or Google Play. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.
IN CLOSING: And finally, all these new rules had me thinking of a rule I’d kind of enjoy, but would never happen. Ties in the NFL absolutely suck. Trust me, I was involved with a tie against the San Francisco 49ers when I was with the Rams in 2012 and it felt pointless. Really weird feeling. Standard hit-by-a-Honda-Civic feeling, but without a resolution. I had a couple too many adult beverages after the game and fell getting on the team bus that night right in front of Jeff Fisher. He told me I played really well. Only interesting thing about this game was us knocking Alex Smith out of the game and them putting in this skinny, fast kid with cool hair. He was good. What’s he up to? Anyways, ties suck so I was thinking… What if each team had to run an Oklahoma drill against the other team using only the head coach, GM and owner? Best two out of three. Full pads. Free football indeed.