One of the great things about having a life centred around sport is that sometimes all is not what it seems to be. For example, Leitrim shouldn’t win the Connacht Senior Football Championship – on perceived rank and status within GAA – but in 1994 it happened. Indeed, the people of that great county have a proud and envious tradition of confounding the critics.
Of course, such accreditation is due to several other sporting shockers. Were Chorley fancied to beat Derby? Or Argentina tipped to beat Ireland at the 2007 Rugby World Cup? They all happened though.
Just as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers dethroned the defending Super Bowl holders, the Kansas City Chiefs on their home patch last Sunday. Right at the off here it will be admitted that my grasp of gridiron goings on is loose at best. But at the same time enough for me to watch my way through a game and comment thereon fairly competently in its aftermath.
That point was arrived at by drawing albeit tenuous similarities between American Football and Rugby. The League version thereof actually. Simply as, in both codes, a team can only hold the ball for a set number of phases at a time – four in the discipline Stateside, five in the other. Whereupon they must either score or turn over possesion to their opponents.
The comparable aspects don’t end there. Where in Rugby Union a player can get pinged for not releasing the ball once they had been held in the tackle, over Stateside the dictum is the same – a player caught in possession is considered ‘Sacked’ and thus effecting a turnover.
Anyway, admittedly it was only upon discovery that Tom Brady was in fact still playing that a modicum of interest in the land of helmets and shoulder pads was re-ignited. I honestly thought he had retired. Nobody could or would have argued had he bowed out. He’d seen and done it all multiple times over.
But Tom Brady is big news. And in that business, there’s no such thing as bad publicity. The bankrolling Blazer buckos needed all the good news stories they could muster as their inglorious, disinterested mismanagement of Manchrster United had sullied the story of what was once the world’s greatest football club.
For anybody connected to or even remotely intrrested in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, good news stories don’t come much bigger than securing the services of the greatest player of his generation. Somebody with six Super Bowl rings at home on the mantle.
Perhaps it’s some form of back-handed compliment, but, when someone is at the very zenith of their area of expertise it’s considered fair game – nay almost obligatory – to have a ‘pop’ at them. A la Brady and the ‘Deflategate’ brouhaha of a few years back. Where the inference was that the New England Patriots – the quarter back’s employers at the time – or the player himself had somehow tampered with the air pressure in the football so as to allegedly extract some kind of nefarious advantage when the No. 12 was throwing the ball.
To me, the whole scenario stank of bovine excrement. For one thing, if there was a problem with the football surely one of the referees – Lord knows there are enough of them – would have noticed it. And secondly, surely if the other team felt there was a mischievous advantage accruing from the air pressure in the football being one way rather than some other way, was that same advantage not available to them if they were good enough to take it?
Moving on from all that, the longevity competitors manage to derive from their careers in some of the American sports is actually quite commendable. Think of Vince Carter and Dirk Nowitski and Tim Duncan playing well into their 40s in the NBA. Or, even more remarkable, George Foreman being able to more than cope admirably inside the ropes when of similar vintage.
A BRADY-GLAZED SUCCESS STORY
So in one sense that Brady is still soldiering on should not be an enormous shock. But for a few key factors. The ferocious physicality of the man’s chosen area of expertise, and the fact that, having won so much with the Patriots that it may seem highly strange to see him re-locate to Tampa Bay as his career would, I’m sure, be considered to be in its twilight zone.
Was Neil Diamond right? Does money talk? You bet it does. Tom Brady is big currency in another language too though. If you were the Glazer family and such an asset became available would you bid for their services? Do fish swim…
From this sitpoint at least, it seems pretty clear that their NFL franchise is their main interest with Manchester United commensurate to a winter retreat in Alicante for those fortunate enough to have one. The thing is, as if securing the signature of somebody who genuinely can be regarded as a living legend wasn’t achievement enough in itself, when garnering his considerable experience they also got his long term, equally success-laden sidekick Rob Gronkowski.
You suspect only Brady could coax Gronk back into the fray. The two of them in tandem has always been the byword for success and though this observer only seen the last couple of games of the season, it was abundantly clear the old master still holds sway over all his contemporary quarter backs.
In those two games, Brady eclipsed the duo who are probably his greatest competition in that regard, Aaron Rodgers of the Greenbay Packers and, even more significantly, Patrick Mahomes of the defending Kansas City Chiefs. The latter considered to be the heir to Brady’s throne.
He may have to wait a while to assume the seat, mind you, because, as happy endings go, throwing three touchdown passes for your new team and your buddy also getting in on the act would be hard topped. Except gut feeling says this story isn’t finished yet.