The sixth and final docu-series episode began airing in the weeks leading up to the Patriots’ Super Bowl 52 loss to Nick Foles and the Eagles. They called it “Tom versus Time,” because Father Time was tapping Tom Brady on the shoulder reminding him that no one defeats him.
But there was Brady on Monday night at MetLife Stadium against the Giants, quarterbacking the 5-2 Buccaneers instead of the Patriots, coached by Bruce Arians instead of Bill Belichick.
And there was Belichick on a conference call hours before Giants-Bucs from Foxborough, droning on about what has befallen his reeling 2-5 Patriots, quarterbacked by someone not named Tom Brady for the first time in two decades, but by a struggling and cost-effective Cam Newton instead.
Brady has been rejuvenated by the challenge of his lifetime, so much so that he has somehow changed the narrative completely from Tom versus Time to Tom versus Bill:
Can either of them win his seventh Super Bowl championship without the other?
Who was more responsible for the Patriots Dynasty, Brady or Belichick?
Opportunists with an agenda will kick Belichick while he is down, but the GOAT quarterback would not have hoisted six Lombardi trophies without the GOAT coach, and the GOAT coach would not have hoisted six Lombardi Trophies without the GOAT quarterback.
But at midseason, Brady’s gambit betting on himself was looking much, much better than Belichick’s gambit that Life Without Tom would not be a death sentence.
There are myriad reasons for Belichick’s current predicament, ranging from eight pandemic opt-outs to salary-cap ramifications to personnel mistakes … to the quarterback position.
Belichick was as interested in committing to a 43-year-old Brady as he would be replacing Adam Gase as HC of the NYJ. If Belichick was convinced that Tom would not be intercepted by Time, he would have made certain that he retired as a Patriot. Belichick believers hailed him for signing a motivated Newton on the cheap, but Newton (2 TDs, 7 INTs) often looks like a quarterback ambushed in recent seasons by shoulder and foot surgeries and cannot carry the team any more than Brady could in 2019.
“Look, we paid Cam Newton $1 million. I mean it’s obvious we didn’t have any money. It’s nobody’s fault,” Belichick said on “OMF” on WEEI on Monday. “That’s what we did the last five years. We sold out and won three Super Bowls, played in a fourth and played in a AFC championship game. This year we had less to work with. It’s not an excuse, it’s just a fact.”
Brady, meanwhile, is housing Bad Boy Antonio Brown at his home and can’t wait for him to join WRs Mike Evans and Chris Godwin and, of course, TE Rob Gronkowski this Sunday. Belichick left Brady without a reliable TE option when Gronk retired and drafted WR N’Keal Harry instead of Deebo Samuel and A.J. Brown. Surrendering a second-round draft choice for Mohamed Sanu didn’t work. Brown lasted 11 days with the Patriots and played one game with Brady following multiple allegations of sexual assault and misconduct. Julian Edelman (knee) is 34.
Belichick revealed that he doesn’t have a crystal ball heading into any given season.
“You approach each year as its own year and coach a team and do the best you can with that team every year,” Belichick said.
Brady losing count of the downs in crunch time against the Bears last month was an eye-opener, but no one in Tampa was equating it to the first hint of senility, that’s for sure. Brady carried 18 TDs and 4 INTs into the “Monday Night Football” clash against the Giants. Playing the way no 43-year-old quarterback had any right to be playing.
After two decades with Belichick, Brady welcomed his free agency. Gronk came out of retirement and Arians drafted RT Tristan Wirfs with the 14th pick and consented to adding the troubled Brown.
Brady is an anachronism in a league of young lion quarterbacks who use their legs to get out of harm’s way. He gets the ball out of his hand quickly, and always has. If you can’t pressure him up the middle, you will be in trouble. His fiery leadership still rages. When he is TB12, he makes everyone around him better. Even now.
“He’s a great point guard in this league where he just distributes the ball to his playmakers,” Logan Ryan said.
At the very end of “Tom versus Time,” Brady said: “When you lose your conviction, then you probably should be doing something else.”
He’s basking in the warmth of TOMpa Bay. Somehow, some way, Tom is still beating Time. And Bill, too.