By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — This one’s been itching for a while, but never really turned into a story, because really, it is oh so dumb. But with the Philadelphia Eagles in Foxboro for a preseason game, and with the story popping up in the news again, here goes.
The story goes something like this: After losing Super Bowl LII to the mighty Eagles, Tom Brady was in such a foul mood that he could not display the most basic sign of sportsmanship and just shake Nick Foles’ hand.
A real man would’ve shaken Foles’ hand, the angry folks have said. And said. And said. (They really have. You can look it up. I’m not going to do all the work here for you.)
They’d look at other Super Bowls and see Cam Newton shaking Peyton Manning’s hand (after Manning had smooched Papa John, of course). They’ll point out that Russell Wilson took time to hug Brady even after throwing the ghastly goal-line pick. Manning sought out Wilson after the Broncos lost, too. Kurt Warner met Ben Roethlisberger. You get the idea. A lot of times, the losing quarterback will find the winning quarterback and congratulate him. Simple enough. Hooray for being a good sport.
Here’s the thing, though. You don’t see photos of the quarterbacks doing this after every Super Bowl. And that’s not because the losing quarterback is always a huge sourpuss. It has much more to do with the fact that the seconds after the final whistle blows in a Super Bowl can be absolute mayhem. That reality is true tenfold when a Super Bowl is not decided until the final play.
For your consideration, check out this video of what it was like in the seconds immediately after Brady’s Hail Mary hit the turf to seal the Eagles’ Super Bowl victory in February.
Do you see Nick Foles in there? Probably not.
Brady was lying on his back, near midfield, after getting absolutely walloped by Fletcher Cox. He looked up, saw the pass fall incomplete, saw there were no yellow flags, and recognized that he lost the game.
If memory serves, he stuck around briefly to congratulate the defensive line that had pounded him several times that night, and he even congratulated tight end Zach Ertz. Look, here’s a photograph:
Wait a second. This cannot be. I was told Brady left in such a huff that he disregarded all Eagles players like the bad sport he is. ENHANCE!
Oh yes, and there were these photos:
The reality is quite simple. When a Super Bowl winner is not determined until the clock hits all zeroes, it’s pandemonium after the final play. Hundreds upon hundreds of people are rushing the field. Players, coaches, security, media, people who are trying to build a stage, random guys trying to steal players’ jerseys. It’s a mess. You can see it in that video above.
It is not the composed and routine scene we play out every Sunday, where the QBs tend to meet at midfield for a meaningless little handshake before heading to the locker room. That can happen in the Super Bowl when the game is well in hand and the winning team is just running out the clock. But in the chaotic scene of a last-second Super Bowl, finding anyone in that mess can be impossible.
As a losing player, your role is really to get the heck out of there. It’s not your moment. Hanging around at midfield, amid hundreds of celebratory Eagles, just so you can seek out the opposing quarterback to grandstand to make some sort of point about sportsmanship? No. You don’t do that. You really can’t do that. You’ll end up looking like a real bozo as you walk around like John Travolta’s famed Pulp Fiction meme.
This is why, whenever asked about it by media members who would just love to kick up a controversy over nothing, Foles has “downplayed” the “snub.” Because … he probably didn’t know where Tom Brady was after that final play. He probably didn’t care. He had just won the Super Bowl. He probably wanted to hoot and holler with his pals. He probably wanted to take the stage and pick up his freaking MVP trophy.
Still, lines like this are written in ESPN stories: “Brady has never spoken about the handshake that wasn’t, nor has he been asked about it by reporters.” It’s as if people are afraid to ask Brady about it. Or, perhaps … they have just applied a few second of critical thought into what might have happened there. One or the other.
This whole idea that Brady needed to seek out Foles just to shake his hand is a bit condescending to Foles, as if he’s some lost pup who needs validation from Touchdown Tom in order to survive. It’s a bit much. Nick Foles is a grown man. He’ll be all right. Because he knows the deal.
Then again, maybe that’s not it at all. It likely has more to do with a general distaste for the Patriots that tends to permeate the nation in The Big Game™. You’ll remember that toward the end of Super Bowl XLII (aka The Perfect Season That Wasn’t, aka The Helmet Catch Game), Belichick jogged toward midfield to shake Tom Coughlin’s hand and congratulate him. Surely, Belichick was fuming, but just as surely, he respected Coughlin as much as any other coach. So they shook hands. Some people took pictures and everything.
Problem was, there was a second left on the clock after Brady’s final pass fell incomplete. The officials had to clear the mayhem off the field, just so that Eli Manning could take a knee. Then the mayhem was unleashed again. Belichick didn’t go back out to midfield to shake Coughlin’s hand again. Why would he have? He already did it.
Nevertheless, a controversy was born. Sore sport Bill Belichick couldn’t bring himself to congratulate Tom Coughlin. The shock. The horror. IS NO ONE THINKING ABOUT THE CHILDREN?!
Such is life, I guess, with Super Bowl handshakes. People are going to make mountains out of mole hills. Reality be damned.
But if you were/are mad that Brady didn’t shake Foles’ hand after the Super Bowl? Perhaps it’s now time to get a little mad at yourself for not using your noggin. It’s OK. Happens to the best of us.
Anyway. The Pats will be out for some cold, hard revenge on Thursday night in the preseason contest against the Eagles. Let’s hope Brady leads a chorus of “Kumbaya” at midfield with all five of the Eagles’ quarterbacks after the game. He can’t afford to welcome more controversy.
UPDATE: They hugged!
“I did hear that,” Brady said after the preseason win about the criticism. “I know that was kind of made-up to me. That was never my intention. I wouldn’t, you know, be a bad sport. But I have a lot of respect for Nick, and Carson, all those quarterbacks and that team and the the way they play. They’re a great team. I know how hard it is to win that last game, and they did it, congrats to them. But we’re on to 2018.”
So ends our long national nightmare.