By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Maybe it was because he wanted to share the spotlight. Maybe it’s because he didn’t want to do anything extra for a league that hunted him down like a criminal. Or maybe he just didn’t like his mom hearing him use that potty mouth all over the field.
Whatever the reason or reasons, Tom Brady didn’t really like to wear a microphone in the latter portion of his career with the Patriots. When it came to big games, it was often Julian Edelman who happily sported the wire, thus leading to some memorable clips in Patriots lore.
But Tampa Tom is a different cat, and he proved that yet again by wearing a microphone for Saturday night’s playoff game vs. Washington.
Yet while Brady may be a cooler dude in a looser mode down in Florida, anyone from New England who watched Brady closely for 20 years will see that even at age 43, even in a new system with new teammates and new coaches, he’s still pretty much the same old Brady.
The whole thing is pretty remarkable. Typically, 43-year-olds don’t bother trying to play professional football. In the rare cases they do try, they’re typically kicking footballs, rather than standing in the pocket against a ferocious pass rush and delivering dimes down the field. Take all that, and then consider the leadership on display, and it’s clear the type of impact that a player like Brady can have on an organization that hasn’t been considered a winner for a very, very long time.
And from a New England view … Brady looks like the same exact guy who led the Patriots for two decades.
Here are some of the highlights from the mic’d up footage.
“YOU’RE HOT, BABY. YOU’RE HOT AS [BLEEP].”
Tom Brady has always given a great amount of credit to his offensive coordinator. While he’s no longer working with his visored-up pal Josh McDaniels, his love for his OC remains true to Byron Leftwich.
In one clip in the video, Brady and Leftwich are meeting near the sideline during a break in play. Leftwich was asking Brady what he wanted, and the quarterback put his full trust in Leftwich.
“I don’t care. Whatever you want,” Brady said. “You’re hot, baby. You’re hot as [bleep]. If you feel it, I’m gonna hit that [thing].”
That says a lot, considering Tampa gained 507 yards of offense, which was the most Washington’s second-ranked defense had given up all season long. With Brady knowing the season was on the line yet pumping up and relying on Leftwich during a close game, the QB never skimps on spreading positivity when he can.
Former Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia is regarded in football circles to be one of the best to ever perform in that role. His results speak for themselves.
Yet whenever Scarnecchia showed up in Patriots mic’d up segments — and that was a pretty often occurrence — his messages to his players were almost always simple reminders of fundamentals and in-game awareness.
Brady clearly learned a thing or two while working near Scarnecchia for so long, because his message to his offensive linemen in the huddle sounded like it was coming straight from Scarnecchia.
“Come on. We can’t let this guy jump around blocks. That’s all he’s gonna do all day, all right? Let’s pound their ass in the [bleeping] run game,” Brady implored the big men up front. “It’ll turn the whole game around if we do both. Protection has been [bleeping] amazing. We just gotta do a little better in the run game, all right? Just stick with them a little longer. You know what 99’s trying to do.”
Prior to the game, Brady was also clear and direct when getting his receivers ready for the first playoff game in most of their careers.
“Decisive all night, all right? Great communication, great poise, man,” Brady told the receiving group on the field. “We’ve got a lot of football, all right? Sixty [bleeping] minutes of our best.”
That’s the coach on the field that the Bucs were happy to add when they jumped to sign the player. At $25 million, that’s a slick two-for-one deal.
LOVE FOR CHASE
Rookie Chase Young drew some attention upon himself when he hopped off the field after a Week 17 win and declared that he wanted Tom Brady. During the week leading up to the game, he stood by what he said, saying that he loves competing against the best, so a date with the GOAT is exactly what he wanted.
Once the game began, Young made sure to let Brady know that this was no Anthony Smith type of call-out and was instead a sign of respect.
Young: “Can I shake your hand?”
Brady: “Hey, baby. What’s up, Chase?”
Young: “Hey that’s all respect.”
Brady: “Hey, you too, baby.”
Young: “It’s all respect.”
Brady: “It’s all good.”
Young: “It’s all love. You know I love to play the game.”
Brady: “It’s all good. I know.”
As he’s gotten older, Brady’s made a point out of showing his respect for the next generation of NFL stars. That moment right there was merely the latest example.
In addition to quarterbacking the Bucs, part of Brady’s job and life responsibilities this year have included keeping Antonio Brown on track. That’s a tall task, but there have been no incidents thus far.
And after Brady hit Brown for the game’s first touchdown, the quarterback trotted into the end zone and immediately tried to to get the receiver’s focus on the next play to be made.
“How you like that, baby?” Brady asked Brown, before shifting gears. “Let’s get another one!”
While jogging off the field, Brady also threw some praise at Tristan Wirfs for the blocking on that play.
ACT LIKE YOU’VE BEEN THERE BEFORE
Tom Brady has thrown 75 touchdowns in the playoffs. Nobody else has ever thrown 70. Or 60. Or 50.
Joe Montana ranks second all time with 45 touchdowns, and it feels safe to say that Brady’s spot atop the mountain is secure for a very, very, very long time. (Among active chasers of Brady’s record are 37-year-old Aaron Rodgers with 40, 42-year-old Drew Brees with 36, 38-year-old Ben Roethlisberger with 34, and 32-year-old Russell Wilson with 25. None of them are catching Brady. The 25-year-old Patrick Mahomes has a chance, of course, but he’s still at 13 in his young career.)
That is to say, Brady often acts like he’s been there before, because he has been there before. More than anyone else. Ten times over.
And his reaction to throwing a touchdown to Chris Godwin showed that sometimes, Brady can seem like a football killing machine, sent from the future to destroy opponents. (Terminator 7: Brady’s Back would make some money at the box office, no doubt.)
“Nice job, CG,” Brady muttered to himself with no emotion after throwing the TD to stretch Tampa’a lead to eight points. “Way to go. Nice job, CG.”
It wasn’t a celebration so much as it was the best quarterback of all time doing exactly what he felt he should have been doing.
While his stoicism stood out on that touchdown pass, his emotion exploded after Leonard Fournette’s fourth-quarter touchdown run, which gave Tampa a 12-point lead.
“YOU’RE AN INSPIRATION, BRO”
The video ended on a nice note, with Brady greeting Alex Smith at midfield after the game. Smith was the comeback story of the year, as he returned from a gruesome injury that almost killed him and almost cost him his leg.
While Smith was unable to play in this game due to a calf injury, Brady made sure to seek out Smith after the game.
“Hey. I’m so [bleeping] proud of you, bro,” Brady said to Smith. “You’re [bleeping] unbelievable, you know that? You’re a [bleeping] inspiration. … You’re unbelievable. Always here if you need me.”