Tom Brady: The Silence of the Rams



Tom Brady: The Silence of the Rams

A good lie will find more believers than a bad truth. During an impetuous, often uneven 2018 campaign for a New England Patriots team that finished 11-5 for the first time since 2001, the gallows from the peanut gallery of hate had been erected to hang Tom Brady like a pinata from an upside down goal post.

Coming into this season as the reigning NFL MVP fresh off a 500 yard passing performance in a losing effort to the Philadelphia Eagles in Superbowl LII, Brady was said to be dead– and the disrespect (with a palpable degree of disdain) was real. The first ram that needed to be muzzled was former HBO Boxing commentator Max Kellerman…

Max Kellerman has publicly doubted Tom Brady--and Gatling thinks Tom will come up big again in Super Bowl 53.

.. who in a day of infamy to Patriots Nation on July 28, 2016, famously declared with pride and arrogance, that Tom Brady would soon ‘fall off of a cliff', and for good measure, added that in short order Brady would become “a bum”.

The bloviator likened Brady's then coming demise to Derek Jeter, as if he'd soon be a short stop away from the team's glaring liability while at the helm of the the most important and most difficult skill position in all of sports. For the toupee wearing man of acerbic wit unaccustomed to the proverbial touche,  all he's done since that day is win a 5th Superbowl title in historic comeback fashion while winning league MVP in the following 2017 season. He has then defended that title by ousting this year's NFL MVP, Kansas City Chiefs breakout superstar QB Patrick Mahomes, in his own backyard in freezing conditions.

Now, standing on the precipice of an unprecedented 6th Superbowl championship in an unfathomable 9th attempt, Brady can (and will) grab Kellerman by his Aaron Rodgers loving horns and throw his ass into the Grand Canyon with his entire team hanging onto his 41 year-old ankles. 
These Patriots are a lot like that 2001 team lead by a QB that wasn't supposed to do anything but manage a game and get out of his own way, against a Rams team very similar to “The Greatest Show On Turf”, if we simply count the regular season. In that respect, it is 66 year-old Bill Belichick, “The G.O.A.T” among coaches regardless of the sport gunning for his 6th Superbowl title as well, who deserves credit for that first ring– but not the others. Brady was an unusually confident, goofy Jeff Hostetler that year, who would eventually morph into the Phil Simms 2.0 he'd envisioned; the reason Brady was drafted as the 199th player in the 6th round of the 2000 draft. That guy was, for all intents and purposes, the skinny version of “Captain America” before supernatural osmosis. 

Joe Montana, Brady's boyhood idol and the man he supplanted long ago as “The Best Ever” (if we can borrow that description from Floyd Mayweather), had Bill Walsh and his “West Coast” offense. Montana was absolutely a ‘system quarterback' for the ages, with a style and structure attempted to be replicated by head coaches and QB's all over the NFL. L.A. Rams star QB and Ryan Gosling-esque Jared Goff has the look of a stronger and more powerful modern iteration of Montana while also donning #16. He is also ‘a system' QB with an attachment to brilliant Rams Head Coach Shawn McVay no different than Montana's to Walsh. What makes Brady unique is that Belichick is not an offensive guru and does not have a discernable system. 
Brady possesses a most rare ability to take whatever pieces Belichick assembles and completely dismantle them to his liking in the huddle or at the line of scrimmage. He rewrote record books on the way to the incredible 16-0 2007 team when given his own Jerry Rice 2.0 in Randy Moss. He won NFL MVP in 2010 when given his own Mark Bavaro 2.0 in Rob Gronkowski. He defeated the Atlanta Falcons and faces the Rams tonight because of his own Wes Welker 2.0 in Julian Edelman. Each player mentioned is or will be a Hall of Fame player, in large part because of the uncanny exploits of #12.
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A Pittsburgh news station was forced to fire an employee for coming up with a graphic that labeled Brady a “Known Cheater”, despite the fact that he's never been better since “Deflategate”, as three straight Superbowl appearances show. In March 2018, ESPN The Magazine ranked the 20 most dominant athletes of the last 20 years and Tom Brady barely made the cut. In fact, they chose to rank his arch rival, Peyton Manning, 17 places ahead of the Patriots legend while placing Brady at dead last. 

Then, in December, ESPN released it's feature “The Dominant 20”, whereby they stated: “The 20 most dominant athletes of 2018 made our list by redefining the impossible.” I'm sorry but, a then 40 year-old QB had just won league MVP and threw for over 500 yards in a consecutive Superbowl appearance last February in 2018 and nearly lead a pedestrian Patriots team to a 12-4 record and the #1 AFC seed had it not been for a glinch in Belichick's mind near the end of an inexplicable loss to the Miami Dolphins. ESPN was also aware of widespread reports that a 41 year-old Brady played significant portion of 2018 with an MCL sprain, an Edelman recovering from an ACL tear and a 4-game suspension, and a malfunctioning Gronk. Throw in the acquisition and subsequent loss of malcontent Josh Gordon, and isn't it impossible that he's back in the Superbowl? I'll believe that network and that magazine isn't biased of Brady when Kellerman falls off a cliff.
“The passing game could be better.”
–Bill Belichick, following a 24-12 win over the Buffalo Bills on December 23_________________________

This past week, Coach Belichick opined that Lawrence Taylor “… is certainly the greatest player I've ever coached.” Tom Brady will remember that going into tonight's game. I told friends to watch what Brady looks like against the Jets following a stat line of 13-24, 126 YDS, 1TD, 2INTS against those Bills, a game in which ESPN allowed former head coach Rex Ryan to issue a death knell to Brady and the Patriots. In a 38-3 obliteration of the Jets, Brady looked like The G.O.A.T he is, tossing for 250 yards and 4TDS in the cleanest game he'd played all year. His so called fettuccini arm once again produced lasers, in concert with greatest ever pocket mechanics and footwork formerly exceeded only by the great Montana.

It was just the Jets the naysayers said, but I knew better. #12 was about to get another bye week to get ready for a Los Angeles Chargers team the Nick Wright's of the world said he couldn't beat. All Brady did was add Philip Rivers to the list of elite QB's supposedly better than him to a list of victims that included Deshawn Watson, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes. Certainly, he wouldn't beat Mahomes again they said. Afterall, the Patriots were a terrible 3-5 team on the road with a history of awful play in Kansas City (who could forget Brady's lowest point as a player in September 2014 at Arrowhead Stadium?). Certainly, they weren't going to go into a frigid and hostile environment and prevail, right? 

What the Chiefs didn't know, is that Tom Brady…

Tom Brady is the GOAT, says John Gatling.

.. had once again become the quarterback who stormed into San Diego in 2006 to face the most powerful Chargers team ever assembled (lead by then NFL MVP Ladainian Tomlinson) only to defeat them with the weakest offensive skill players ever given to him. What he did to the Chiefs two weeks ago far outpaces what a 28 year-old Brady did to that Chargers team. After #12 defeats Jared Goff tonight, to add the Yin to go along with a best ever Yang, he will have solidified his argument that the regular season be damned, that he is still not just “The G.O.A.T”, a distinction that cannot be taken from him, but the greatest quarterback in the world who successful defended his title of league MVP.

I've heard strange comparisons of Brady to iconic figures such as Muhammad Ali and guys who wore #23. Ali became legend for exploits beyond a ring of truth, exacerbated only by a brave civil rights beacon of light that seemed to shine on him with athletic grace under fire.  LeBron James is far and away a greater man than he is the most phenomenal basketball player of all-time; while the 6'6, 6-time NBA champion in as many attempts simply known by a famous Jumpman logo with a Nike swoosh revolutionized advertising success for corporation as the greatest winner the world has ever known. None of this is Brady, while all of it either could be or could've been.

This is not the Michael Jordan of the NFL. Any such characterization of Brady that links him to the NBA's version of “The GO.A.T” is incongruous, for they both reside in a place that is entirely their own. This is Bobby Fischer in cleats, who just happens to have the luxury of being coached by Dustin Hoffman's “Rainman” in a hoodie. The Rams of all types are about to be loudly silenced tonight not because of physics, but because of a quarterback who has turned the football field into a game of Golf which tips the hat of Tiger Woods, while displaying a mastery of the game down to a science.

Patriots 35, Rams 34  

Senior correspondent for NY Fights and author of upcoming book, "The Fist Club." Conscious indie recording artist "T@z" and humanist advocate for the Green Party.