By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — What are we doing here?
What. Are. We doing here?
That is the only reaction any sane human being could have to the “report” from Adam Schefter that dropped on ESPN.com on Sunday morning regarding the future of Tom Brady.
For those who don’t follow these things closely, Sunday mornings are when the likes of Schefter and Ian Rapoport and any other well-sourced NFL insider drop their stories to shake the NFL world and get the country ready for 10-plus hours of football. Some big stories tend to break during this time.
Sunday’s story about Tom Brady? It was not a big story.
Let’s dive into it briefly.
Here’s something that everybody knows: Tom Brady’s contract will void after the upcoming season, which means he will either retire, or re-sign with the Patriots, or sign with a new team. This has been the case since the summer.
Yet here’s what Schefter reported on Sunday:
“There are people in and around the Patriots organization who still cannot predict what Brady will do and where he will end up in 2020, but they recognize that all options are on the table, including returning to New England, moving on to another organization or retiring.”
“Other sources familiar with the situation insist Brady’s decision still can go any which way, and nobody can predict what will unfold after the season.”
Here’s something else that everybody knows: Robert Kraft owns the Patriots, and Bill Belichick coaches the Patriots. Combined with Brady, that trio has reached unprecedented heights over 20 years. Six Super Bowls — you may have heard?
Here’s what Schefter reported, via “sources”:
“But what more than one source pointed out over the past week is that New England offers two advantages to Brady that no other situation can: Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick.”
We knew that.
Here’s one more thing that everybody knows: Belichick gave a game ball to Brady when he passed Peyton Manning on the all-time passing yards list, and Brady said it was nice. We know that because the Patriots included it in their locker-room video that they share after victories, and Brady made the comments publicly on WEEI.
Yet … :
“Earlier this month, after Brady passed Peyton Manning in career passing yards and passing attempts while leading New England to a 35-14 win over the New York Giants, Belichick presented his quarterback with a game ball.
“Brady later said on WEEI that the gesture from Belichick was ‘very nice.’“
And here’s one last thing that everybody knows: After this season ends, even if Brady is interested in exploring life as a free agent, the New England Patriots are probably going to be among the teams for which he might consider playing in his 21st season in the National Football League.
To the report!
“New England still will have its chance to persuade Brady to return to the Patriots as the six-time Super Bowl winner attempts to navigate his future.”
Schefter is the most well-connected man in the NFL. He knows of news about players before those players often do. He’s got more sources than most of us can imagine. So this isn’t meant to be an indictment on his reporting; he was most likely asked by his bosses to put something together about Brady for Sunday morning, after he generated all sorts of attention this week for dropping some speculation before Monday Night Football. (The reaction to that, too, was more about us than it was about Adam.)
Sources were not needed to note any of the details in this particular story, to say the least. The story also didn’t really need to come with the packaging of all the typical scoppage doled out by Schefter.
Sources on Brady's future with Patriots: Relationships with Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick are key draws.https://t.co/5EZZRNlr7b
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 27, 2019
It all certainly does not seem like the best use of Schefter’s connections. Next thing you know, they’ll be asking Schefter to report that Brady throws right-handed, that he is indeed 6-foot-4, that he wears the jersey number 12 on Sunday afternoon, and that he enjoys himself a good breakfast shake.
It wasn’t just Schefter, though Rapoport on NFL Network managed to discuss the topic without feeling the need to rely on any embedded sources.
From @NFLGameDay: For the first time in his career, #Patriots QB Tom Brady has full autonomy on what happens to him after the season. His tone has changed dramatically on his future. pic.twitter.com/hcNqndtzCB
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 27, 2019
Clearly, Brady is the biggest name in the game. When and how and why he leaves the Patriots will be a massive story.
But it’s also October 27. Nothing has changed since midsummer. He hasn’t said anything to indicate that he definitely wants to retire, or leave the Patriots, or even play in 2020. Everybody understands this.
Yet with the 7-0 Patriots hitting every opponent with the buzzsaw thus far in 2019, there’s apparently not much else to talk about regarding the team’s starting quarterback.
There’s little doubt that talking about the Patriots and specifically talking about Brady generates more attention than just about anything or anybody else in the NFL. So from that standpoint, it’s understandable why the stories continue to flow. It’s just that at this point, they’re going to need to contain a little bit more substance than the “news” that dropped on Sunday. That one was a bit of a comical farce.
For his part, Brady seemed to understand why his status is always a major topic of conversation in the football world.
“My contract situation hasn’t changed in many months, so I don’t know why it gets brought up now. I don’t know,” Brady said Friday. “I think it’s just hype, media, and everyone’s trying to make money and that’s what it’s about. I don’t get into it. I mean, honestly, again, my situation hasn’t changed. I’m just focused on what I’m always focused on, which is this week, trying to be a great quarterback for this team. As I said the other day, things happened at the right times, but this isn’t the right time.”
As to whether or not he ever get tired of it, Brady had to laugh at himself a bit.
“It’s just … part of,” Brady said, trying to find the right words. “Part of it, it’s just being Tom Brady, I guess.”