By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Tom Brady is now 70 percent of the way through his journey of sharing with the world his life and career by way of his documentary series, “Man In The Arena.” The most recent episode, which focuses on the 2016 season, may have been his best offering yet.
The 2016 ended with the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history, but it began with Brady serving a four-game suspension for DeflateGate. Through it all, Brady’s mother was undergoing chemotherapy and radiation for breast cancer. It was quite the trying year for Brady personally and professionally.
As it relates to DeflateGate, Brady didn’t use his hour-long episode to relitigate the case or try to profess his innocence or change other people’s minds — aside from including a very brief clip of MIT professor Dr. John Leonard explaining the basic science which the NFL ignored. Instead, Brady looked into the camera and explained that he had already said all that he felt needed to be said.
“I always kind of adhere to [the saying] if you’re explaining, you’re losing. So I never like going, ‘but, but, but, but,'” Brady said. “I don’t need to defend myself. I defended myself for a long time. I said what I had to say multiple times in front of a lot of different people — in court, in public.”
Brady and his legal team actually did win their first battle in DeflateGate, when Judge Richard Berman overturned the NFL’s suspension, which allowed Brady to play in 2015. But the Second Circuit Court of Appeals heard the case the following offseason, and two of the three judges ruled to reinstate the punishment.
“I felt I had given them what they needed to make the right decision, but, you know, I feel like they had their mind made up,” Brady lamented. “That was a lot about who had power and authority. What it started out as versus what it became are two totally different things.”
Brady and the players’ union could have tried pushing the case to the Supreme Court, but ultimately, Brady knew it was time to fold his hand.
“You got to know when to fight and you got to ultimately know when that it’s taking too much out of you to fight. You know, and I realized that I wasn’t going to win. It’s hard to beat 31 billionaires in court,” he said. “And I thought we gave it a great fight, but in the end, you know, just dealing with the results of what a New York circuit judge decided, I decided to put that behind me and then move on to the next year.”
Brady openly discussed how the long, drawn-out legal battle over pounds-per-square-inch measurements in footballs took a toll on him, stating that it was “a very vulnerable time” for him.
“[Gisele Bundchen] supported me for the previous year and a half. She helped me up when I was weak and angry and sad and depressed,” Brady said. “That was a really dark time.”
Of course, Brady ended up recharging during that four-week absence, and he and the Patriots tore up the NFL for the rest of the year. They went 11-1 after Brady returned, with the quarterback throwing 28 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Brady revealed that the whole season was inspired by one simple idea: [bleep] ’em all.
“From the suspension standpoint, once that was over, that was over. That was in the past for me. I wasn’t gonna dwell on that. It was an FEA year,” Brady said. “FEA meant f— ’em all, man. They ain’t cheering for you anyway, so you may as well go out there and win. Because, you know, we’re gonna go try to please everybody and get everyone to like us by losing. You know, f— that. We’re not doing that. We’re gonna we’re gonna f— ’em all.”
Ultimately, the season ended in triumph for Brady and the Patriots. His mother finished her cancer treatments and was able to attend her first game of the year when the Patriots pulled off that 28-3 comeback in the Super Bowl. Brady earned his fourth Super Bowl MVP trophy, sharing a stage with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell — the very man who fought so hard and for so long to enforce that suspension, which was built on dubious grounds. And he showed that if all of that couldn’t get in the way of him winning championships and playing at the highest level, then it’s likely that nothing ever could.
“I wanted to go represent what I was all about. And the way I could do that was on the football field. And that’s how I chose to explain myself,” he said. “I’m going to show you guys kind of what I’ve always shown you, and just keep reminding you.”