So you’re preparing for Sunday’s Patriots-Jaguars game when a friend, a fellow casual follower of the game, tells you that New England QB Tom Brady is in danger of not playing this weekend because of an injury to his throwing hand.
These are confusing times—who knows what to believe anymore? Obviously, you don’t want to show up at Gillette Stadium this weekend behind on your Brian Hoyer takes. Will it really come to that?
In order to aid you in this trying time, we answer your most frequently asked questions in this beginner’s guide to Brady’s hand injury...
How did it happen?
Mike Garafolo of NFL Network has the most concrete details. Apparently, Brady was working on some type of handoff drill Wednesday when the clip from Rex Burkhead’s helmet somehow gashed Brady’s throwing hand. There was, reportedly, blood everywhere. He received four stitches and missed practice on Thursday.
He returned to practice on Friday, and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport added that Brady was “zinging [the ball] pretty good.”
Have the Patriots been forthcoming with the media about this?
Not really. Head coach Bill Belichick said “we gave out the injury report yesterday and we’ll update it today.” He also said “I don’t know” when asked if Brady would be able to execute normally in the AFC title game.
Brady himself came into his press conference Friday wearing gloves on both his hands, which doesn’t normally happen. Here’s a snippet of his session with the media, as transcribed by The Ringer:
How is your hand?
“I’m not talking about it.”
Thumbs-up or thumbs-down for Sunday?
Did you throw any footballs today?
“I’m not talking about that.”
Did you practice today?
“I was out there.”
Were you out there for the entire practice?
How was practice?
“It was fun.”
This seems odd, almost fake even. Does this team have a history of deception and or strange rule-bending behavior?
That’s an interesting question. Sports Illustrated wrote a piece about this very topic back in 2015. When other teams play the Patriots, they go through odd precautions, like running fake plays during walkthroughs or getting rid of the trash in case New England might go through it.
“Another team has taken things further,” wrote a trio of SI reporters. “It fled Gillette and found a different place to practice, and on game day it piled trunks of equipment against the double doors in the back of the visitors’ locker room so nobody could get in. That same team kicked the visiting locker room manager out of the office he occupies near the clubhouse.”
There was also Spygate and Deflategate, which were, depending on which team you root for, either the most egregious examples of wanton disregard for the rules in NFL history, or just a little bit of football horseplay.
Let’s say this is a ruse, what could be gained from it?
Wow. You seem suspicious, casual football fan. Well, the Patriots could force the Jaguars to prepare for the possibility that Brian Hoyer might play. Some coaches believe that if your opponent takes even 10 minutes preparing for something that won’t happen, that’s 10 minutes they’re not spending working on what makes your group successful.
With an increased media presence around the team, perhaps hurling out a distraction like this would keep his players from being inundated with pointed questions about a heat-seeking ESPN piece that dropped earlier this month about a potential power struggle brewing within the organization.
It could also aggravate the locker room and help them play with an edge on Sunday against a young, talented Jaguars team.
What should I believe?
Celebrated author Don DeLillo once wrote in the book Libra: “Everything is supposed to be something. But it never is. That's the nature of existence.”
It is up to you, casual fan, to examine the situation and decide for yourself what is truly happening here. My guess? Tom Brady got nicked in practice, bled a little and got stitches, causing everyone to freak out about it because the NFL is the most popular sport in the country and that’s what people do. Stories turn into stories about stories. Press conferences about press conferences. Belichick and Brady have never been really forthcoming about injuries which only tickles our inclination to become conspiracy theorists.
It’s probably best to enjoy the game Sunday with one or two of your favorite adult beverages and not let the outcome dramatically effect your life moving forward. Getting too deep down this wormhole can cause irreparable damage.