By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady finally addressed his apparent concussion history head-on when he met with reporters last week. And as soon as you heard Brady utter the phrase, “I really don’t think that’s anyone’s business” in regards to his past medical issues, you could practically hear the knives sharpening out in Bristol, Connecticut.
So leave it to ESPN’s Bob Ley to deliver a pungent slice of sanctimony during the latest episode of Outside The Lines. He strongly disagreed that Brady’s medical history is none of his business.
“The hell it isn’t, Tom,” said Ley. “With enhanced NFL protocols now in place to diagnose and treat brain trauma, that the league’s greatest-ever quarterback may have had concussions despite never being listed as such on an injury report? That is news.
“Tom Brady just turned 40. He says this is all none of our business. And Tom, I sincerely and honestly hope you can say that as you celebrate many birthdays in the years ahead.”
Look, it’s not hard to understand what Ley is saying here. Brady’s medical records aren’t exactly nobody’s business. The NFL and its teams have more access to medicals than most typical employers, for obvious reasons. Teams are obligated to report injury statuses accurately. His past is the Patriots’ business and the league’s business, for sure.
But Ley isn’t really doing himself any favors by acting like such a tough-guy journalist here, except maybe in the eyes of his preachy brethren. Also, his argument collapses on itself when he makes it clear that his concern is about the news, not league rules – which makes his closing comment that much more disingenuous and patronizing.
There’s no way Ley believes that the NFL would seriously crack down on teams and players hiding concussions. But he is really reaching if he thinks it would actually be the media’s business to gain access to the same medical records that are mostly kept privately between player and doctor. Hidden concussions are a can of worms that the league absolutely does not want to open – and even if it did, it would essentially be their business and their business only. Certainly not the business of OTL.
Ley’s monologue addressed some salient points, but none of them explain why Brady’s medical records would be any of his business in particular. Brady’s mental health may deteriorate down the road in the same way it has for many other ex-NFL players found to have CTE – and if it did, would that (or his past) be Ley’s business? Brady’s possible concealment of concussions is certainly news that you’d expect to see some reporting on, but that doesn’t mean that OTL and other outlets would suddenly be entitled to know more about Brady’s medical history. You can be a hard-nosed reporter without acting like private information would be your birthright.
Any honest football fan would know that the majority of NFL players have suffered some form of brain trauma and many head injuries are hidden by players or go unreported. Brady has taken too many hits over the course of his career for anyone to believe that he’s never had even mild concussion symptoms. But if he suffered concussions and was able to hide them and stay on the field without leaving to enter the concussion protocol, what exactly can be done about that now? Even more importantly … moving forward, would the NFL want him to leave the field in the first place?
It’s quite possible that the only person Brady has ever told about his concussions is his wife, Gisele Bundchen, who started this whole mess in the first place. Is Ley saying that he has a right to know what Brady and Gisele tell each other in the privacy of their own home?
Brady’s comments about his medical history weren’t entirely accurate or honest, especially if he plans to sell the “TB12 Method” as a way to prevent head injuries. But for talking heads to scold him as if he’s obligated to share his medical records with them is taking it a step too far. Diatribes like this one by Ley should be expected, but public disclosure of Brady’s medical history should not.
Matt Dolloff is a writer/producer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, CBS, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @Dolloff985 and email him at email@example.com.