By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — These days, in an era where takes are flying fast and furious around the dark quarters of the internet at all times, it really takes a humdinger of a hot take in order for an opinion to be entered into canon. That is an accolade that ESPN’s Max Kellerman achieved last year when he predicted that Tom Brady would “be a bum in short order” and was going to “fall off a cliff.”
The take was a real scorcher when it was issued in the lazy summer days of 2016, and everything that’s happened since its inception has only worked to make the take more difficult to defend.
Nevertheless, undeterred by the undeniable reality of life, and unaffected by the Patriots’ trade of backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, Kellerman is sticking to his guns.
“Still a cliff. Still a cliff,” Kellerman said on Tuesday’s “First Take” on ESPN. “Cliff is coming exactly when I said. The cliff is exactly where I said it would be.”
If you’re wondering: the expiration date Kellerman declared for Brady is after the 2017 season. Once the calendar hits Feb. 5, 2018, then Tom Brady is done with a capital D.
At this point, it seems to mostly be a running joke on the program, as Brady has defied the effects of age to show that Kellerman’s cliff is nowhere on the horizon.
During the first half of Super Bowl LI, Kellerman patted himself on the back with a one-word tweet:
Within a couple of hours, after Brady engineered the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history and one of the greatest comebacks in football history period, that tweet didn’t look great. Nevertheless, Kellerman spent the next day talking about Brady’s declining arm strength and standing by his cliff belief.
“Had the [defensive backs] just held on to a few of those balls [for interceptions], we don’t have this conversation right now about Tom Brady’s performance,” Kellerman astutely argued after Brady’s Super Bowl record-setting 466-yard performance.
And after the Patriots’ Week 1 flop this season, Kellerman was back on his horse.
“If you love Tom Brady, take a good look, because this season is the last you will see of him,” Kellerman said in September. “He will never be Tom Brady again after this.”
In early October, Kellerman warned of the cliff yet again.
“The cliff is coming, be certain of that. It will happen exactly when I told you it was going to happen. He has this year, including this postseason left in front of him, and then he ain’t going to be Tom Brady anymore,” Kellerman said after New England’s win in Tampa.
Just a few short weeks later, Bill Belichick — a man who knows a few more things about Brady’s ability than Kellerman — has decided that Brady will continue being Brady this year, next year and beyond.
But according to Kellerman, he and Belichick are on the same wavelength.
“What I see here is that Bill Belichick has basically agreed with me the entire time. Recall, he could’ve gotten a first-round pick … for Garoppolo last year. And so what he was doing is waiting until the last possible second before he did anything with Garoppolo,” Kellerman said. “[Belichick kept Garoppolo] as an insurance policy, those are the premiums that we’re going to pay on this insurance policy against Tom Brady declining or a catastrophic injury — which, by the way, can also be seen as decline. Older players are more exposed and they get injured simply because they get more exposed and because they get more brittle as they get older. So Belichick was thinking exactly as I was thinking.”
He’s actually right, though Belichick’s approach was more about insurance and, you know, having a backup quarterback on the roster than it was about sticking to his guns about some misguided cliff prognostication. There’s a significant difference between being a pragmatist and being stubborn about a hot take.
For the record, since Kellerman declared that a cliff was coming for Brady, the quarterback has completed 590 of his 883 passes (66.8 percent) for 7,232 yards, 51 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and a Super Bowl MVP award.
He’s been pretty good, but unfortunately his career has just three months left before he becomes “a bum.” Max Kellerman said so. Many, many, many times.