By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady may be the greatest quarterback of all time. He also is the undisputed champion when it comes to creating controversy — real or imagined.

The latest instance of this phenomenon was clear to see on Monday, when both USA Today and NBC’s “The Today Show” made stories out of Brady jumping into some water with his 6-year-old daughter, Vivian.

“Tom Brady criticized for cliff jump with 6-year-old daughter,” reads the Today Show headline.

“Tom Brady ripped for cliff diving with young daughter,” says USA Today.

The tweet promoting that story notes that Brady was “called ‘irresponsible'” for jumping off a rock and into a body of water.

This all stems from a moment which Brady shared on Instagram on Friday.

What that USA Today tweet didn’t note was who called Brady “irresponsible” for the dangerous plunge. A click onto that story shows that the person admonishing Brady for being “irresponsible” was none other than … Donna Cahill. She is … a person … on Twitter. Most of her tweets in recent weeks have gotten zero responses, though one high-performing tweet did generate six replies. Her tweet about Brady, as of this publishing, generated 171 replies.

Some other experts quoted in the hard-hitting news story were Arnold Darkshner (a Bills fan who made it clear in subsequent tweets that he was joking), and a user named “Alebongo ‘Bris Bross’ The Frog” (who has 42 followers and a profile picture with a somewhat sexually explicit photo of a frog).

The Today Show opted to dive into the Instagram comments and quote some commenters without naming them. The classic news strategy of “one commenter wrote” was applied in this reporting, with the best instance coming in the following excerpt:

“Is this any different from the girl pushing her friend off the bridge a year ago?” another [commenter] wrote in reference to a teen who was nearly killed when her friend pushed her off a 60-foot bridge last year.

That is some galaxy-brain thinking applied by that random, unnamed internet commenter. And though The Today Show did not answer that internet user’s question, allow me to answer it succinctly: Yes. Yes, it is different from the girl who pushed her friend off the bridge a year ago. It is quite different.

For some bizarre reason, Brady’s representatives did not respond when asked for a comment about the quarterback jumping off a rock and into some water with his daughter. Apparently, Brady’s reps don’t understand the magnitude of going swimming, nor do they respect the power of the words of Alebongo “Bris Bross” The Frog.

Of course, in efforts to remain fair and balanced, both stories included comments from celebrities (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Steph Curry weighed in) and some commentary showing support for Brady’s treacherous “cliff dive.”

But that hardly matters, really, when the story is clearly framed in a way that suggests Brady did something that was actually dangerous and was actually generating “controversy.”

This is what actual cliff diving looks like, by the way.

Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series 2019 in Lebanon. (Photo by Ricardo Nascimento/Red Bull via Getty Images)

This isn’t new, of course. Brady got in trouble for saying that football fans could or would drink some beer before a late kickoff back in 2011. (Breaking news: Sports fans do indeed drink alcohol before, during and after sporting events.) The Boston Globe editorial staff wagged a finger at Brady in 2014 for … swearing on the sideline. The Globe also ran an exposé of sorts into the details of Brady’s charitable endeavors with Best Buddies. Brady was obviously at the center of a drummed-up controversy surrounding the air pressure in footballs, a case the NFL admitted several times through various measures to have been based on nothing. Outside of the criticism, Brady’s been unable to head down a water slide or bust a few moves at a massive celebration without the internet taking note.

It’s kind of weird. Come to think of it, it’s borderline surprising that articles didn’t spring up following the Patriots’ Super Bowl parade in February, criticizing Brady for letting his kids ride on the duck boat without wearing seat belts.

Tom Brady rides with his children during the Super Bowl victory parade in February 2019. (Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

The latest “incident,” such as it is, all just serves as further proof that Brady can’t really say or do anything publicly without a good number of folks losing their minds over nothing.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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