The NFL rolls ever onward, and even though we’re more than three months away from the 2018 season, news never sleeps. Today, reports are rolling in that Tom Brady will miss the New England Patriots’ OTAs. Is this major news, or no big deal? Let’s discuss.
What are OTAs?
This one’s easy. OTAs are Offseason Team Activities, where the team begins getting in shape for the upcoming season. They’re theoretically voluntary, a word which has very little meaning in football culture: if you voluntarily miss a workout, you’re letting your whole team down, fella. Of course, you can make a good case that Tom Brady has provided reasonable services for the Patriots over the course of his career, and thus has the right to skip a voluntary workout or two.
Patriots’ QB Tom Brady will not be at the opening of the teams’ Organized Team Activities today, per a source, continuing his absence from the team’s offseason program. Today is the start of the Patriots’ voluntary OTAs, which Brady regularly has been a part of in the past.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 21, 2018
Brady missing the start of OTAs is significant. Even back when he was living in LA, he'd be here for this part of the program, which is basically when football practices begin. Rare that a starting QB anywhere misses this piece of it.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) May 21, 2018
So is Brady skipping this a big deal?
Maybe, but you have to leap through a few hoops to get there. The truth, of course, is this: not only do players miss OTAs all the time, big-name players can miss without consequence. (The Rams’ Aaron Donald and the Falcons’ Julio Jones are just two of the players who may miss their teams’ OTAs.) And names don’t get any bigger than Tom freakin’ Brady. You can figure that Brady knows what he needs to do to keep himself in shape and ready for camp later this summer. Plus, given the fact that the guy has five rings and is coming off yet another Super Bowl appearance, Brady’s earned a bit of latitude.
So what concerns could there be about Brady missing OTAs?
Well, first off, there’s that ineffable “no ‘I’ in team” concept. If you believe that, leaders are better leaders when they’re down in the springtime dirt with the rookies. From a more pragmatic perspective, the Patriots have added a raft of new players, including receivers Jordan Matthews, Cordarrelle Patterson and Braxton Berrios, and the more comfort Brady could get with them, the better.
But on a larger scale, Brady has always hit these OTAs in the past. And the reported rift between Brady and Patriots management/coaches could be the cause, or could be the result, of this decision. Brady’s personal trainer, Alex Guerrero, fell out with Patriots management and head coach Bill Belichick last year. Could this be Brady’s passive aggressive way of signaling his allegiance to Guerrero over the Patriots? Maybe we can pass notes around and figure this out like the middle school cafeteria tales that offseason football stories already are.
Look, we know Brady’s coming back, and we can reasonably anticipate that he’ll be just fine. We also know that his time with the Patriots has an expiration date, but whether that’s 2018 or 2028 remains to be seen. Unless and until Brady wins another Super Bowl, stories like this will consume the Patriots faithful. Just don’t look for Brady, Belichick, or anyone else to speak up publicly and clear the air.
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