New England Patriots

By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com

Make no mistake about it, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s decision to miss the first day (maybe week) of OTAs is a deviation from the norm. For 18 years, Brady has been a football-consuming monster whose desire to be the greatest has led to five Super Bowl titles, countless 19-week byes to the AFC Championship Game, and put Jimmy Garoppolo in San Fran.

Now — and with limited competition on the quarterback depth chart (Brian Hoyer and seventh-round pick Danny Etling are the arms to begin OTAs) — Brady has opted to spend more offseason time with his family opposed to the Foxboro turf.

Again, this is something different than what we’ve all become accustomed to in New England.

But it’s not the end of the world — or anything even close to a big deal if you’ve paid attention to this offseason.

First of all, the writing was on the wall for this whole thing a long time ago. Brady said it himself in the sixth episode of the now-infamous “Tom vs. Time” Facebook series that he was going to spend more time with his family.

“This offseason is gonna be about my family, and they deserve it,” Brady said. “There’s more to think about than just me, and I think that’s what you commit to when you have a family. And they commit a lot to me. That obviously goes both ways.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick also said that he had some players expected to miss portions of their offseason program.

“We’ve communicated with all of our current players, the new players, the players who were on the team from last year,” Belichick said last month. “We have the voluntary offseason program that starts on Monday. It will be heavily attended, but I know there are a couple players that I’ve talked to that have other commitments, but that’s the way it always is, too.

“So, not really anything new there.”

Belichick was originally referring to the organization’s strength and conditioning program which took place around that timeframe, but it doesn’t sound as if this is a coach that’s blindsided by prior obligations and/or player opt-outs. (This idea that Belichick has been left in the dark in regards to Brady’s decisions to participate or not participate is absurd, by the way.)

Everybody actually involved in this process seems to be in the know here — or knows the particulars of a return date.

But without Brady at these OTAs, I’m going to lose sleep over the fact that I will not know his seven-on-seven stats. This is extremely concerning, of course, as we all know that football is played at seven-on-seven and without contact. Without being able to physically see and hear Brady tell me that he’s in great shape after an offseason of workouts, I have been left to assume that he has succumbed to a lifestyle of Netflix marathons sponsored by Cool Ranch Doritos and Mountain Dew two-liters to the face. I wonder if he was able to power through all of Lost In Space in one sitting while some seventh-string wideout we’ll never know outside of a Preseason Week Two moment finds his chemistry with Etling instead of Brady.

I am already scheduling my tweet congratulating the Miami Dolphins on winning the 2018 AFC East title.

Or I’m going to be a rational person and realize how truly meaningless this all should be in the now.

We can say that OTAs are the start of something special, and the true tone-setting moment of a team’s season and expectations. Especially when you have as many new faces at wide receiver as the Patriots do, and with players like Kenny Britt and Malcolm Mitchell looking to further involve themselves in the air attack. Or we can realize that at 40 years old, Brady undoubtedly knows all the tricks of the trade — to borrow a phrase from somebody else, Brady has been doing it so long that he knows the answers to all the tests — and is preparing himself the right way.

Just on his own terms, like he has long before this Monday.

While I don’t believe in anti-concussion water, after back-to-back Super Bowl appearances — including an insane Super Bowl LII that saw him throw for an NFL-record 505 yards in a game that would have been Brady’s had the New England defense been able to make, y’know, one single stop in a 60-minute game — I’m not ready to question Brady’s offseason preparation.

Or at even question his dedication to the Patriots — especially when agent Don Yee maintains the belief that Brady wants to play into his mid-40s and that earning another contract is something that is on his mind. Insinuating that Brady’s decision to miss the first day of OTAs is a reflection of how much he cares about the Patriots is to also insinuate that he doesn’t care about a future contract and/or winning another title with the Patriots. If you’ve paid attention to Brady for even five minutes in the last four years, you would know how dumb you’d have to be to think that. Also: Brady’s offseason has included training on beaches, throws at UCLA, and will likely include another summer trip to Montana with his arsenal of offensive weapons.

Brady skipping the umpteenth day of going through some OTAs in sunny Foxboro shouldn’t nullify that work.

Oh, and in case it does: Let me remind you that Brady missed the first four games of the 2016 regular season — the regular season! — due to his Deflategate suspension and roared back with an 11-1 record with 3,554 yards, 28 touchdowns, and just two interceptions before marching to the fifth Super Bowl title (and third Super Bowl MVP Award) of his career. During that suspension, during which Brady was not allowed to be near his teammates, Brady did everything from serve as an honorary captain at a college football game to film a commercial, and throw with old teammate Wes Welker in his backyard.

If that in-season break didn’t break No. 12, I’m not convinced a week of missed OTAs after an MVP year will spell the end.

But don’t mistake my attitude as me trying to tell you that everything’s perfect.

Brady, who will be 41 when the 2018 season kicks off, probably wants a new contract. How could he not when he sees the buckets of money dropped on the head of any undeniably-worse quarterback capable of winning 10 games a season? He probably wants Alex Guerrero, barred from the sidelines last season, to be with him at all times. Given his body of work under Guerrero’s coaching and lifestyle beliefs, it’s hard not to see why. And Brady, like anybody who’s been at the same job for two decades, would love to feel even a touch more appreciated.

While I think we all have to admit these issues do exist to a certain degree, it’s all late-spring noise until these issues bleed into June’s minicamp, where Brady’s presence shifts from voluntary to mandatory.

And when and where any worries you may have should do the same.

Ty Anderson is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.