By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady got the best possible revenge against the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell when he led the Patriots to a historic comeback win in Super Bowl LI. In a season where Brady sat four games due to a suspension, the Patriots’ future Hall-of-Fame quarterback cemented his legacy and triumphed over his many detractors in the only way he knew he could.
One way that Brady simply could not win, however, is in the court of public opinion. Throughout the entire saga of DeflateGate and even before that, Brady faced received amounts of criticism from the league, his peers, the local and national media, fans outside of New England, and plenty of former NFL players and coaches. There was nothing Brady could have said that would have changed anyone’s mind or made the noise go away.
So, as the Patriots do so often, Brady found a way to ignore the considerable noise and avoid giving those who criticized him any kind of response.
Brady addressed the topic in part two of a new interview with The MMQB’s Peter King, opening up on the avalanche of stories that have come out in the past two years about his relationship with Goodell and desire for revenge, as well as the wide range of other criticisms and accusations leveled his way – even after winning a fifth Super Bowl title and fourth Super Bowl MVP.
For Brady, it’s simple: don’t give them the satisfaction. You respond, they win. You give up any power you had.
“When you play professional sports … you subject yourself to a lot of criticism. After 17 years in the NFL, there’s a lot of criticism,” said Brady. “I started experiencing that in college. College wasn’t an easy go for me … But I guess the point is, when you subject yourself to a lot of criticism, what I’ve learned from myself is, I don’t want to give my power away to other people by letting my own emotions be subjected to what their thoughts or opinions are. So if someone calls me something, that’s their problem. It’s not my problem.
“I’m not going to give away my power.”
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Brady’s lack of responses to scrutiny and questions can be maddening at times for media and fans who desire headline-worthy quotes and WWE-style public feuds between Brady and Goodell. But it’s a part of what makes Brady so great on the football field; he has a Zen-like ability to keep his focus on the game and refuse to help fuel any further public criticism. Sometimes, the best way to stop the noise is to ignore it.
“You can call me an a-hole and I am going to smile at you probably. I’m not going to say, ‘No, you’re an a-hole.’ Because that person is controlling me with what their thoughts and actions are. How can you go through life, now at this point, 17 years, being affected by everybody all the time with what someone says?”
Brady’s remarks, whether he intended it or not, provide a strong commentary for the best way to handle the kind of criticism he’s faced. Much of the time, it’s more of a reflection on the attacker than the victim and it’s best to ignore it.
Brady barely ever lets the other team on the field win; he’s certainly not going to let the noise win, either.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.