We tried something different this week at The MMQB. When I had my 95-minute conversation with Brady on Sunday in Montana, I recorded it for a podcast. I did that for a couple of reasons. One: to let you hear Brady unedited, talking about the ins and outs of a great football game. It’s not often that he gets into the nitty-gritty of why he makes certain decisions on the field, and the science of some of his calls and decision—as in the memorable overtime throw on the winning drive up the left sideline to Chris Hogan for 18 yards, the throw that so well illustrates Brady’s command and chemistry with his receivers. It takes so much trust to throw a ball to a spot 23 yards away when the receiver is not looking, and is closely guarded by a cornerback, and so much can go wrong, but the receivers ends up catching the ball—as happened so often on these anticipation throws in the New England comeback. As Brady said:
“It’s such a Peyton Manning type throw. I watched him for so many years make those throws. I used to be in amazement. Marvin [Harrison] and Reggie [Wayne], they’d cut their route off, turn around, ball was in the air, in stride, 15-, 18-yard gain. How the heck did they do that? There’s so much trust from the quarterback to the receiver. The DB can’t get to the ball faster than the receiver can. You got to believe your receiver is going to get to the ball faster than their guy. That’s what that play came down to.”
“But,” I said, “if you throw it 25 yards in the air, it could be an interception or incompletion.”
“And that’s a lot of throws,” Brady said. “That’s a lot of throws. That’s 111 practices that we had. That’s however many games. Films, meetings. It’s got to be like clockwork. You’re throwing it to a spot, he’s turning, those are the ones the DBs have been covering all year too. It ended up being a really tight play. But it took great execution.”
Two: I told Brady, who is fascinated by football history, that I thought he should have a recording of his memories of the comeback while those memories were fresh. I have no idea how often he would actually discuss the play-by-play of what may turn out to be the most interesting game of his life, but I told him I would give him an audio copy of our conversation via my podcast partners at DGital Media. Maybe he’ll never queue it up; maybe his kids will never hear it. But I wanted him to have it for whatever use he’d ever need.
My thanks, too, to DGital Media for their help this week, and for working overtime to get Brady’s thoughts out to so many people.
I would be interested in your reaction not only to the pensive Brady but to hearing long-take conversations and interviews like this. We in this business are trying to figure out different ways to reach our readers/listeners/consumers, and we listen to your input. Let us know your thoughts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Now for your email:
I just wanted to drop you a line and commend for your insightful article about Tom Brady and the Super Bowl 51 comeback. I always enjoy reading your column, but this one was so insightful and thoughtful, I can’t wait to read the next installment.
ATLANTA’S DEFENSE WAS TIRED
Disagree with Peter’s comment about Atlanta’s defense not being more tired than New England’s offensive line. Peter knows the game so well that he’s probably noted in the past how a defensive player has to use much more energy per play than an offensive one. In Kalyn Kahler’s article about Dan Fouts, Fouts made an excellent point that the more passes a quarterback throws the better it is because his OL can more easily recognize which defensive play is being run. Combine this with the more exhausted a defense gets and you have a VICIOUS CYCLE like the one at the end of the Super Bowl.
—Jack McCarthy, Chester, N.J.
Interesting comment Brady had about the offense’s chance to score late in the game: “At the end of all those games that I’ve played in the Super Bowls, the defenses have a hard time stopping the offense, in every game.” Very much validates your argument that after a long game with a smart offensive coordinator, the offense has more than a 50 percent chance to score a touchdown on every possession. Coming from the QB who just won the first-ever Super Bowl overtime, that’s a pretty strong argument for each team getting a possession in overtime.
I don’t know why defenders would be more tired and, say, worn out, than the New England wide receivers and running backs. It doesn’t make sense. My point about fatigue was a simple one. Brady was beat up in this game (including the shot by Grady Jarrett at the start of the last drive in the fourth quarter, the game-tying drive) as much as he’d been beat up in a game the entire season, and he played seven more snaps than he’d ever played in any of 260 previous NFL games. I see why the defense would be fatigued, but a 39-year-old quarterback handled it pretty well. Regarding the overtime point: I have always been in favor of both teams getting a possession in overtime. This game put an exclamation point on that. When the coin flip to start overtime is a vital play in the game, there’s something wrong with the rules.
BRADY AND GRONK: A TALE OF TWO BODIES
Where is the story comparing Rob Gronkowski’s lifestyle and his injuries to Brady’s and his longevity? Saw a video of Gronk on the victory parade where he opened a can of beer (presumably) with his teeth, chugged it and then spiked it (it was a nice catch though). He ended the parade in classic boy-man attire—shirtless. Why does it feel like Gronk is just a successful version (in terms of pro football performance) of Johnny Football? Gronk later was quoted as saying something about how the fans wanted to party so he gave it to him. I think they really just want him healthy.
—Joe Lancione, Salisbury, N.C.
Remember, Gronkowski entered the NFL with some concerns long-term about his neck and/or back, and I believe what he’s given the Patriots to this point is far more than most teams expected on draft day seven years ago.
Question: How can the Pats not trade Jimmy Garoppolo this year? He is a free agent next year, and how likely is it that New England will pay him what he could possibly get from somewhere else to stay as a backup for the next three years? Thus, doesn’t it make too much sense for the Pats to get maximum value for him now rather than to lose him to free agency next year?
It does make sense. I base my opinion on the fact that I believe Bill Belichick will want insurance for a 40-year-old quarterback next season, the kind of insurance that will make him feel the Patriots can still win the Super Bowl even if Tom Brady gets hurt in September. With Garoppolo, I think Belichick will be supremely confident in his chances. The risk, of course, is costing your team a likely first-round pick if Brady stays healthy and Garoppolo departs in 2018. In my opinion, that’s a risk that Belichick could feel is worth it.
LOVED THE STORY OF THE WEEK
I have religiously read your column for years. I always read your article of the week as I typically find them very thought provoking. By far the one you posted [from the Los Angeles Times on a man who takes in foster children who have terminal diseases] was the most impactful that I have read, and I applaud you for sharing it. If I can suggest one thing, please include a link to the gofundme website that was put up.I have never donated, and the story was so touching that I felt compelled to do so. You have a great platform to help others and I am sure there are other readers who would help this man out if they knew. Thank you.
Geoff, I really appreciate you writing and saying that. I wonder sometimes if people ever click on those links and check out stories that truly impacted me. Thanks for letting me know it’s a valued part of the column. [Editor’s note: The gofundme page is here.]
T.O.’S HALL OF FAME CASE
As a Vikings fan, the Owens case reminds me of Cris Carter. It took Carter six years to make it even though when he retired he was second to Jerry Rice in most categories. I know he had substance problems when he was young, but by the time he retired he had redeemed his reputation. What caused him to take so long?
Good question. I thought at the time what hurt Carter was the logjam at wide receiver with Tim Brown and Andre Reed. But my feeling was Carter was the best of the three. I thought he was the best boundary receiver I’d ever seen (and only Julio Jones’ Super Bowl catch might make me rethink my long-term position on that).
A MESSAGE TO CURRENT PLAYERS?
Any chance those voting down T.O. are trying to send a message to current NFL star receivers? Two of the best in the game (Odell Beckham Jr. and Antonio Brown) have certainly had some questionable moments that aren’t appreciated by the NFL establishment. In a time when fines seem relatively ineffective, what better way to put guys like that on notice than to threaten their potential future Hall of Fame chances?
—John Chadwick, Rhode Island
I am in the room, and I certainly didn’t feel that or hear that among the 48 voters. But I can’t say it’s categorically not true, because I’m not in the minds of the voters. Just one of them.
Perhaps if the commissioner who purportedly is defending the integrity of the league didn’t blatantly lie as much as this one, I would agree with you.
— Peter B.
Whatever. I just didn’t think it was a good look. Many of you disagree with me.
BENNETT AND ISREAL
In response to Michael Bennett’s quote on why he’s skipping the NFL players’ trip to Israel, shame on him. Bennett may or may not know it but he is caving to the anti-Israel “Boycott, Divest and Sanctions” (BDS) movement. The movement makes Israel out to be the world’s biggest violator of human rights (including comparisons to the Nazis) while ignoring any wrongdoings by the Palestinians, not to mention the world’s greatest human rights violators. While there’s nothing wrong with criticizing Israel, in the vast majority of Jewish and pro-Israel circles BDS is seen as an anti-Semitic movement. Not a single Western government in the world supports BDS. In the United States, the movement has bipartisan opposition. Does Michael Bennett know what he’s supporting? He can certainly look at this complicated issue from the Palestinians’ perspective, but this Broncos fan thinks Bennett needs to have a conversation with Robert Kraft and Julian Edelman, the two biggest Israel supporters in the NFL who can offer Bennett a very different point of view.
Bennett is a very smart guy; listen to my podcast with him back in September and you’ll see. I find no problem whatsoever with a player exercising his free-speech rights, and exercising his right to back out of a trip if he feels it’s going to be used for a purpose he does not support.
WHY IS BRADY SKIING?!
Enjoyed your Monday column with Tom Brady recapping that incredible comeback. As a lifelong Pats fan who lived through many lean years prior to TB12, I simply cannot get enough of any story that adds any bit of information and color about Brady and this magical run. But I have a question for Tom. And perhaps Robert Kraft. You’re 39 years old and say you feel better than ever. You just had arguably your best season ever. You’re at the top of your game and say you want to keep playing and there is no end in sight. So you go to Montana. And go skiing. Skiing??? And two years ago jumped off a cliff in Costa Rica? I get that you need to live life but, how many people tear up their knees skiing? Why take that chance? (Unless he’s on a bunny slope with those cute little Bradys.) But if the football gods kept you relatively healthy for the season, I can think of at least six reasons not to tempt fate.
Gary, I heard from a few people who said the exact same thing. I would just say this: Tom Brady has earned the right to do whatever he wants in the off-season, even if it makes Patriots fans uneasy.
SOMEWHERE IN MONTANA...
You are KILLING me! There is only one other person OTHER than Tom Brady I would rather have met up with in a brewery somewhere here in Big Sky Country, and that is YOU! Love your work, I am one of your biggest fans. You couldn’t make a quick stop at a brewery for a meet and greet with your fans?? We could have done a fundraiser, sold some tickets. Promise us this: At some point before you call it a career, you will make a stop at a brewery here in Big Sky country and have a brew and tell a story for a good cause with your northern, rural fans. Deal?
— Guy in Montana
I promise. There just wasn’t time this time. But I love Montana. Can I say that any stronger? It’s so beautiful, so pristine, so great. I will come back, as long as the Moose Drool will flow.
Peter, please let us know when you and Tom are getting married.
From what I saw Sunday, he seemed pretty happy with his current spouse.
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