By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — For years now, we’ve kept you up to date on Max Kellerman’s fiery hot take about Tom Brady falling off a cliff. For various reasons, it’s kept people rather captivated.
A brief review: In July of 2016, Kellerman said Brady was “just about done, that he was “going to fall off a cliff,” and that he would “be a bum in short order.” Brady set an NFL record for TD-to-INT ratio that season, went 11-1 in the regular season, then led the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory in dramatic fashion.
Undeterred, Kellerman stuck to his guns. After Brady threw a pick-six in the Super Bowl, Kellerman immediately tweeted “Cliff.” That didn’t work out. A month later he said 2017 would be Brady’s final season. Also wrong. In the middle of the 2017 season, Kellerman warned that the cliff was still coming. Brady went on to be named NFL MVP and led the Patriots to another Super Bowl, where he threw for a record 500-plus yards.
All of which brings us to the current day, where Kellerman had to watch Brady look like vintage Brady in his first preseason action of the summer. Brady was exceptionally sharp, which makes it look like Kellerman’s “cliff” proclamation for 2018 to be in peril. But fear not — Kellerman is still riding the cliff train.
“Doesn’t look good right now for me, but no I’m not,” Kellerman said on “First Take” after Brady’s preseason debut. “Let me give you a metaphor here, an analogy really. Remember the Roadrunner cartoons, guys? Roadrunner on [Looney Tunes]. And the coyote would be tricked into running off the cliff, right? Did he fall right away? No. He thought there was still ground under his feet. He didn’t realize there was no ground there. Then eventually he looked down and realized there was no ground there, and then he fell. Remember he would hold up the sign and stuff like that? And I think that’s where Tom Brady is right now. At this point, I think it is mind over matter. He’s in a great organization, he looks like he’s still got it.
“But that is the nature of the cliff. These guys — all of them — look like they’ve still got it until they realize, ‘Whoa, there’s no ground under my feet, and Father Time is undefeated.’ I don’t think Tom Brady will be a great quarterback this season, but I have to admit, Stephen A. [Smith], early evidence doesn’t look good for my prediction.”
Stephen A. pressed Kellerman to answer when he’d be willing to admit that he’s wrong.
“If he is great in game one, I’ll have been proven wrong. He will have broken the record for longevity,” Kellerman said. “The drop-dead deadline for my prediction is Week 1 this season. But it’s not the preseason!”
Kellerman then declared that nobody else will be able to be impressed by Brady’s potential success this season, because nobody else was brave enough to say that Brady would not be able to do it.
“If and when Tom Brady is great in Week 1 and disproves, finally, my drop-dead deadline … do you know who’s the only person who’s allowed to be impressed by Tom Brady? It’s me,” he said. “Because everyone else who doubted it, everyone else who simply assumed that he’d do what’s never been done before, well, you just assumed he’d do this incredible thing. I was the one who, based on history, said no one has ever done that before. So I alone am allowed to celebrate. That’s right.”
You can watch the wonderful exchange for yourself.
To be honest, this video is a major disappointment. For the first time, Kellerman broke character, held back a smile, and chuckled ever-so-slightly about the ridiculousness of his commentary. That’s a huge bummer. Kellerman had painstakingly maintained his position on this matter for multiple years, reaching his peak (or nadir, depending on your perspective) when he flat-out decided to wage war on Patriots fans. That was some high quality Hot Taking, the likes of which is necessary to stand out in this Hot Take world.
But this latest installment shows for the first time that Kellerman might actually have a sense of humor. What a bummer. It was fun while it lasted.
Anyway. For as much feather-ruffling as the “Cliff” take has caused, Kellerman probably believed he was making a safe bet. Nobody’s ever gotten better at quarterbacking as they’ve hit their late 30s and climbed into their 40s. Kellerman was just placing his stock in the most likely scenario, based on history. The odds were in his favor.
Unfortunately for Max, Brady is a one-in-a-million player. And all it will take is one exceptional performance this season for Kellerman to finally admit defeat in the famed “Cliff” argument. It was a good run, and when Brady does disprove the theory, the take should immediately be placed in the Hot Take Hall Of Fame. For all the attention it’s garnered and for all of the reaction it’s generated, it might even deserve its own wing.