TOM BRADY CANNOT BE STOPPED:  things will end badly with brady and the patriots.  WOW!!

1.  READ the fabulous article from the nytimes about brady's personal life and regimen and goals



4. IF YOU WATCH THE RERUNS OF THE LAST MINUTE OF PLAY, you will discover (1) that GRONKOWSKI started the shameful brawl, that ended with a seahawk 15 yard penalty and the ejection of IRWIN, and (2) MALCOLM  BUTTLER interfered with xxxxx before the ilnterception on the one foot line.

Tom Brady Cannot Stop

By MARK LEIBOVICHJAN. 26, 2015 Photo Tom Brady in a huddle with his offense during the A.F.C. championship game on Jan. 18. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story Share This Page Continue reading the main story Related Coverage Super Bowl 2015 Live Blog: Seahawks vs. Patriots LeGarrette Blount had three rushing touchdowns in the A.F.C. championship game. Super Bowl 2015: Seahawks vs. Patriots PreviewJAN. 31, 2015 In the A.F.C. championship game against Indianapolis, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady tossed the ball 16 yards to Nate Solder, left, an offensive tackle who for that play lined up as a tight end. Afterward, Solder said the team had practiced the play for years before unveiling it. Sports of The Times: In Super Bowl XLIX, Keeping Alert for Trick PlaysJAN. 31, 2015 graphic Bait and Switch, a Common Ploy of Patriots and SeahawksJAN. 31, 2015 Sheriff Joe Arpaio helped fill bags with cherry-glazed popcorn at Maricopa County Jail in Arizona. The popcorn’s color is similar to the pink of the inmates’ sheets. Arizona Sheriff Known for Toughness Is Allowing Inmates to Watch the Super BowlJAN. 31, 2015 Tom Brady, center, at an angular 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, defies the stereotype of a traditional short-yardage force. A Tom Brady Sneak Is the Patriots’ Unstoppable PlayJAN. 30, 2015 Richard Sherman showed off some dance moves. Coach Pete Carroll said Sherman was the best dancer on the Seahawks. Who Said What, Who Wore What and More From Super Bowl Media Day Tom Brady on Sunday, a week before the Patriots were to face the Seahawks in the Super Bowl. Sports of The Times: It Doesn’t Take a Scientist to Sense a Shift in MomentumJAN. 25, 2015 Fans outside Gillette Stadium in October. The Patriots' victory rate against the spread in wet conditions over the past 12 seasons was 80 percent, according to Covers. In Rain and Snow, It’s Clear That Patriots Are a Good Bet JAN. 23, 2015 Patriots Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady said Thursday that they had no knowledge of how the Patriots came to use underinflated footballs. N.F.L. Ends Silence on Underinflated Footballs to Say It Is Investigating JAN. 23, 2015 Tom Brady and Bill Belichick Deny Knowledge of Deflated FootballsJAN. 22, 2015 Patriots quarterback Tom Brady leading a drill last week. At 37, he continues to defy his age in propelling New England. Sports of The Times: Frayed Around Edges, the Patriots’ Tom Brady Still Holds UpJAN. 18, 2015 Last July, a few weeks before the New England Patriots started training camp, I got a call from Donald Yee, the agent in Los Angeles who has represented Tom Brady since he entered the N.F.L. in 2000. It had been four years since I first told Yee that I was interested in writing about Brady, even though I typically cover politics. I grew up in the Boston suburbs, rooted for the Patriots as a kid and even possessed vague memories of watching the team play at Fenway Park, one of their homes before they settled into the nowhereland of Foxborough, Mass., in 1971. My friend Josh and I once wrote a letter to the team’s young quarterback, Jim Plunkett, inviting him to dinner at Josh’s house. (Plunkett never responded.) Their teams were mostly bad, their owner was an embarrassment, their stadium a dump. Yet the Patriots always retained a lovable haplessness about them, with their cute minuteman logos, their A.F.L. lineage and the identity crisis that comes from being named after an entire region instead of a city or state. (The Seattle Seahawks are not the Pacific Northwest Seahawks.) Continue reading the main story Slide Show Slide Show|13 Photos Man Out of Time Man Out of Time CreditDamon Winter/The New York Times I have continued to like the Patriots through their long run of success, which began when their coach, Bill Belichick, made Brady his starting quarterback in 2001. Since then, the Patriots have achieved the highest winning percentage in American professional sports, ahead of even the N.B.A.’s San Antonio Spurs. Admittedly, it felt slightly unnatural — un-Patriot-like — to identify with what became such a ruthless and efficient machine. So much about the team was unlikable to the outside world, partly for reasons of jealousy but also for legitimate ones — cheating scandals, for starters, and a head coach who treats his public-relations duties as something akin to lice removal. Plus, I hated their new logos and missed the minuteman. But the Patriots remained my team, and Brady, in my view, always exhibited his own sheepish grace within the parochial madhouse of Boston sports. He was a pleasure to watch in games, and he rarely messed up or said the wrong thing off the field. He had the aura of old-Hollywood larger-­than-­lifeness. He also remained, in his own way, shallowly drawn, which made him more fascinating to me. There have tended to be two popular narratives about Brady over the years, neither of them that compelling except in their incompatibility. The first is the familiar against-the-odds account: Brady as the not-great high-school player, the up-and-down college quarterback, the sixth-round N.F.L. draft pick. But over more than a decade of sustained excellence, a second narrative has taken hold: Brady as the anti-underdog. Arguably the most envied man in America, he dated an actress (Bridget Moynahan, with whom he has a 7-year-old son), then married and had two children with a supermodel, Gisele Bündchen (a union designated “the Brady Bündchen” by the tabloids). His team always wins. The clash between these story lines has contributed to an impression of Brady as faraway, elusive. Hillary Clinton’s friends sometimes call her “the most famous person in the world nobody knows,” and I have long thought the same could be said of Brady. Public figures always claim to be “misunderstood” to some degree, but it would be hard to name an athlete of comparable fame and accomplishment for whom the public has less of a feel. Continue reading the main story I checked in with Yee every year or so. Out of the blue that day last summer, Yee asked if I was still interested. Did I want to have lunch with Brady in New York that Wednesday? (Yes, yes, I thought I could fit it in between breakfast with Santa Claus and dinner with Jim Plunkett at Josh’s house.) I woke up Wednesday to an email with the heading “Tom Brady here.” The message was impressively cordial. “Good morning,” it read. “I hope you’re having a good week.” We set a time and place. An hour later, I received another email from Brady saying he wanted to call “an audible”: We would meet at his home rather than a restaurant in SoHo. Sure, sure, where did he live? Twenty-third and Madison, he said. I was in the cab on the way there when it occurred to me that any number of homes might be found at that intersection. So I emailed Brady to ask for some more specifics. “Hahaha, I wish I knew the address,” he replied. At this point, I figured I was being pranked. It was the big building next to a McDonald’s, he wrote back. (I later learned that Rupert Murdoch paid $57.25 million for four floors in the place, the only skyscraper on the block.) Brady said the doorman would meet me in the lobby. The elevator opened directly into the apartment on the 48th floor. Brady stood there, waiting, in a newsboy cap, tan corduroys and a V-neck sweater over a T-shirt. He is 6-foot-4 and appears taller in person. That’s partly because it’s hard to determine a football player’s height when you see him on TV surrounded by so many other large players. But Brady also stands tall in life. Nothing about him slouches. We moved to a side parlor with a view of Midtown. Brady left for a minute, then returned with a plate of almonds and water in two blue bottles. (Bündchen has endorsed the supposed health benefits of spring water kept in blue bottles and exposed to direct sunlight.) The couple’s young son and daughter were running around the apartment when I arrived. Brady introduced me to a nanny, whom he addressed as “babe.” He calls a lot of people “babe,” male and female, a custom he picked up from his father. He also says “awesome” a lot. Brady was about to turn 37, an age that is nearly elderly in the compacted dog years of the N.F.L. (“Not For Long,” the players grimly joke about a league in which the average career lasts 3.2 years.) The matter of Brady’s football longevity had become especially resonant by then, at the end of the off-season after the Patriots lost to the Denver Broncos in last year’s A.F.C. championship game. A smattering of N.F.L. wiseguys in the news media were declaring that Brady no longer ranked among the league’s best quarterbacks. The Patriots themselves had selected the quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, from Eastern Illinois, in the second round of last spring’s N.F.L. draft — the highest pick the team has used on that position since Brady became the starter. Brady will be 40 when his current contract ends, and nowhere is the legal ageism of professional sports more blithely practiced than in the Not for Long. “We know what Tom’s age and contract situation is,” Belichick said after the team drafted Garoppolo. It was a jarring acknowledgment from someone who never lets anything just slip out. “The Brady endgame is underway,” wrote Tom E. Curran, the team’s beat reporter for ComcastNew England. Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story When I met with Brady at his New York apartment, he kept talking about “taking care of my body,” “preparing for football” and leading a life that would “optimize” his ability to endure an N.F.L. season at “peak performance.” I wanted to follow this process as closely as I could, though Brady warned that once the season started he would be on “Belichick time,” or hard to get to. As it turned out, Brady’s 2014-15 season would offer a kind of recapitulation of his N.F.L. career. It would begin with preseason doubts about his skills and full-throated doom-saying after a rough start. Then came a seven-­game winning streak, talk of a third M.V.P. award and a return this weekend to his sixth Super Bowl (more than any other quarterback in N.F.L. history), even as he was being denounced for whatever role he might have had in — and whatever competitive advantage he might have gained from — the matter of the underinflated footballs he played with in this year’s A.F.C. championship game. Brady’s short-term goal, obviously, is to beat the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl. His broader game plan involves becoming a kind of lifestyle pioneer in redefining how long a 37-year-old veteran can hold off his twilight. In effect, Brady is bent on nothing less than subverting the standard expectations of how long a superstar quarterback can play like one. Soon after we met in New York, Brady embarked with his family on a pre-training-camp vacation in the Bahamas. The trip represented a rare separation between Brady and Alex Guerrero, his best friend and ever-­present guru for training and many other things. While Guerrero is known as Brady’s “body coach,” that label significantly understates his exhaustive reach into Brady’s life. Guerrero is his spiritual guide, counselor, pal, nutrition adviser, trainer, massage therapist and family member. He is the godfather of Brady’s younger son, Ben. He accompanies Brady to almost every Patriots game, home and away, and stands on the sidelines. He works with Brady’s personal chef to put together optimally healthful menus; he plans Brady’s training schedule months in advance. Above all, during the football season he works on Brady seven days a week, usually twice a day. These sessions focus on Brady’s legs, thighs and right arm, the one he throws with, which he calls “the moneymaker.” Every morning in the Bahamas, Brady undertook an intense regimen that included resistance drills, exercises with rubber bands and stretches designed to foster muscular flexibility. While traditional training in football emphasizes the building of muscle strength, Guerrero’s also focuses on pliability, which Brady equates to sponginess and elasticity. “If there’s so much pressure, just constant tugging on your tendons and ligaments, you’re going to get hurt,” Brady told me. “Like with a kid, when they fall, they don’t get hurt. Their muscles are soft. When you get older, you lose that.” Continue reading the main story After his vacation workouts, Brady joined his family for a late breakfast that — for him — consisted mainly of a protein shake that was also high in electrolytes and included greens like kale and collards. (Brady also likes to add blueberries to his concoctions, but some other berries are off limits because they are thought to promote inflammation.) I asked Guerrero at one point if Brady is ever allowed to eat a cheeseburger. “Yes, we have treats,” he said. “We make them.” Like what? “Usually raw desserts, like raw macaroons.” Ice cream made from avocado is another favorite, Guerrero said. Photo Brady watching the N.F.C. championship game before the Patriots' matchup with the Colts. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times “Sometimes we’ll go over to Tom and Gisele’s house for dinner,” Brady’s father, also named Tom, told me. “And then I’ll say afterward, ‘Where are we going for dinner?' ” I met the elder Brady, who referred to himself jokingly as “the original Tom Brady,” in California, a few days after the whole family returned from the Bahamas. He and his wife of 45 years, Galynn, were in Santa Ana watching a granddaughter play in a softball tournament. They had three daughters, who would all become star athletes, before their son was born. A self-­employed estate consultant who had spent seven years in a Catholic seminary before deciding that the priesthood was not for him (the vow of celibacy was a sticking point), the senior Brady still lives in the same house in San Mateo where his son grew up and still attends all of his son’s games. Sometimes after away games, he and Galynn will get to see Tom for a brief few minutes outside the locker room — time enough for only quick hugs and I love yous. “Tommy was my best friend,” said his father, who started taking his son on golf outings at the age of 3. Tommy played baseball and football at Junípero Serra, an all-boys Catholic high school, and became the starting quarterback his junior year. He led his teams to decent, but not great, seasons. With his father’s help, he sent videotaped highlights to dozens of Division I colleges. A few offered scholarships, including Michigan and the nearby University of California, Berkeley. “When Tommy picked Michigan, I was devastated,” his father told me. “I had to go into counseling.” After a few days, father and son convened in the living room for a tête-à-tête. They held hands. “I was crying like a baby and said, ‘Tommy, this is going to change our relationship,' ” he recalled. “And he said: ‘Dad, I know. It has to.' ” The Bradys attended almost all of their son’s games at Michigan, even when he was not getting onto the field and they could watch him only warm up. Galynn recalled going out to eat at Angelo’s, a popular Ann Arbor breakfast spot that typically had long lines on weekends. “We were waiting outside and, you know, if you’re somebody, they’ll usher you in,” she said. “And I remember Tommy saying, ‘One day, Mom and Dad, I’m going to be a household name.' ” At that point, Brady was buried among the six quarterbacks on the team’s depth chart. Even as the starting quarterback in his senior year, he was made to split time with a younger blue-chip recruit, Drew Henson. Continue reading the main story Brady became close to Greg Harden, a counselor who worked with the university’s athletes. Counseling was hardly the norm in the macho culture of Michigan football, but Brady was devoted to it. Struggle makes the experience worthwhile, Harden told Brady, whether or not you make it in football. “Greg used to say, ‘If it was easy, Tommy, if you weren’t in these tough positions, it wouldn’t be special,' ” Brady told me. “So when I got into the pros, that’s how I adapted.” Brady says he tends to gravitate to mentors like Harden, who don’t necessarily embrace mainstream philosophies of coaching and training. Yee, Brady’s agent, described Brady to me as “genially subversive” in his approaches. A few years ago, Brady turned to a former major-league pitcher and pitching coach, Tom House, to help him with his throwing mechanics. House, who worked closely with Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher who played in the major leagues until he was 46, was known for deploying unorthodox practice routines. Brady believes that if he simply trained like everyone else, he would not still be playing today, or at least not at anything close to his current level. In the established “system,” Brady says, ageism has become the conventional wisdom. “That’s where they get ‘No QB can play past 38, 37.' ” On the Wednesday before the Patriots’ season opener against Miami, Brady was going through a drill in practice when he felt a tug in his right calf, followed by sharp pain. It was either a tear or a severe pull, an injury that Brady said can require four to six weeks of recovery. Brady has suffered only one major injury in his career — an anterior-cruciate-ligament tear during the season opener in 2008 that caused him to miss the rest of the year — and has grown accustomed to dealing with problematic muscles with Guerrero’s help. After the strain in practice, Brady hobbled up to Guerrero, who felt around the injured area and isolated the site of the trauma. He went to work stimulating the area with his hands to flush out the excess blood and lymph that build up around an injury. When damaged, muscles naturally constrict, bundle up and eventually harden. This is part of the healing process, but a slow one. Guerrero worked to “re-educate” the muscles in the affected area so they would not, in a sense, behave as if they had been injured. To an untrained observer, these maneuvers resemble a series of massage techniques, but Brady does not like the term “massage,” because he believes that it sells short the awesomeness of what Guerrero does. “It’s like giving a chef flour and eggs and saying, ‘O.K., we’ll make biscuits,' ” he says. “Well, sure, everyone is going to make them different. But Alex is perfect at it.” Brady missed only one day of practice after the calf injury. “Body work” is Guerrero’s preferred term for his massagelike “technique.” Brady had raved to me about Guerrero when we met in New York. He told me they had started a business together, called TB12, that would institutionalize Guerrero’s technique. The business is in a shopping center behind the Patriots’ home field, Gillette Stadium, but it is hard to describe what exactly TB12 is — not a gym, not a group practice of personal trainers, not a nutrition or massage-therapy center. Whenever I asked Brady and Guerrero to define TB12, they would talk of things like “re-educating muscles” and “prehab” (preventing injuries, rather than dealing with them after they happen). Inevitably, they would come around to the word “lifestyle.” (“Everyone thinks I’m a kook and a charlatan,” Guerrero says, referring to how some traditional trainers view him.) Continue reading the main story Brady met Guerrero through his former teammate Willie McGinest. After the 2006 season, Brady was suffering from pain in his groin. “I had this adductor muscle that was pulling so tight, and it was pulling on the tendon,” Brady says. The team, he says, recommended surgery in the off-­season that involved cutting the tendon to relieve pain. This is a common procedure around football, Brady says. Guerrero told him not to do it. He invited Brady to California, where he was living at the time. Guerrero put Brady through workouts designed to “lengthen” and “re-educate” the muscle so the tendon did not have to work as hard; Brady says his pain was gone in a matter of days. Guerrero, 49, is a practicing Mormon of Argentine descent with a master’s degree in Chinese medicine from a college in Los Angeles. His philosophy is built on three components: “We work on staying physically fit, emotionally stable and spiritually sound,” he says. He can sound somewhat Stuart Smalley-like in his mantras. Guerrero shares with me a saying that he and Brady invoke a lot: “Where your concentration goes, your energy flows and that’s what grows.” Brady is always telling his teammates to see Guerrero. Many do, with varying levels of commitment. The former Patriots receiver Wes Welker, Brady’s close friend, was a disciple, as is the current receiver Julian Edelman. The linebacker Junior Seau finished his career in New England, where he worked with Guerrero; Brady says Seau nicknamed Guerrero “Mr. Miyagi.” “Willie used to be the big Alex evangelist,” Brady says, referring to McGinest. “Now I’m the evangelist.” It can be a tricky part to play with teammates. The Patriots have their own training, conditioning and medical program. When I asked Guerrero if the conventional philosophies that govern training and treatment in the N.F.L. ever clash with what he is doing, he said, “Most of the time.” I put the same question to the Patriots’ owner, Robert Kraft. “It doesn’t come without its challenges,” Kraft replied. “But we have a coach that’s accepting, and we have the leader of the franchise who’s driving it.” Brady and Guerrero emphasize that the player has the final say over his own training and treatment decisions. Of course, it’s easier to defy the wishes of your team when you’re Tom Brady and not a rookie. Brady gets this. But he feels responsibility now, as a veteran, and speaks of spreading the Tao of Alex in terms of helping people. He shares with me a word he learned in Sanskrit, “mudita.” “It’s like, fulfillment in seeing other people fulfilled,” Brady says. Brady played the entire opener, a 33-20 loss to Miami. His calf gave him little trouble, but his play was listless; he wilted in the South Florida humidity, like the rest of his team. After leading 20-10 at halftime, the Patriots were outscored in the second half, 23-0, and outgained in yards, 222-67. A few days before the loss, the team’s best offensive lineman, Logan Mankins, was traded to Tampa Bay. The move was widely questioned inside and outside the locker room, in part because protecting the relatively-­immobile-­to-­begin-­with franchise quarterback was presumably one of the team’s highest priorities. Brady was sacked four times in the opener, lost two fumbles and lumbered off the field after each, looking dispirited and every bit his age. “I don’t think we were really jelling anywhere,” Brady said after the game. Continue reading the main story I first saw Brady play live this season in its fifth week, when I flew up to Boston and drove south to the shopping mall known as Gillette Stadium, the Patriots’ home since 2002. Patriot Place, as the larger complex is called, emerges along a could-be-anywhere blotch of car dealerships, billboards and fast-food restaurants on Route 1 between Boston and Providence, R.I. Fans from outside New England might envision Foxborough as a quaint village of greens, flinty shop owners and assorted Ye Olde tropes. Returning from commercial breaks, television networks reinforce this Disneyfied version of “New England,” with stock shots of a steeple, a cider mill, maybe a landmark in Boston, which is a 40-minute drive away. (A huge replica of a lighthouse looms over the north end zone, though you’re as likely to see a real lighthouse in inland Foxborough as you are an actual minuteman strolling through Harvard Square.) In real life, Gillette Stadium is a kind of efficient football Oz that reeks of merchandise, corporate sponsorships and winning. Continue reading the main story ‘We work on staying physically fit, emotionally stable and spiritually sound.’ Brady’s calf injury was healed and forgotten, but he was playing abysmally. The team had relied heavily on its running game to win its second matchup, against Minnesota, and it barely defeated Oakland at home the next week. The Patriots then went to Kansas City for a Monday-night game against the Chiefs and were destroyed, 41-14. Brady, who threw two interceptions (with one returned for a touchdown), was pulled in the fourth quarter and replaced by Garoppolo, who threw his first touchdown pass in what was his N.F.L. debut. On the sidelines, Brady appeared not to congratulate the rookie for his milestone, which was noted in the New England news media as evidence of an emerging generational clash. A reporter asked Belichick after the game “if the quarterback position would be evaluated.” The coach chuckled, shook his head and said nothing. Fans and the press love a deathwatch, especially when it involves a team that always wins. But the Patriots of this century have been widely resented for reasons that go well beyond any jealousy. Fort Belichick is known as a paranoid and joyless place whose inhabitants are not above pushing the rules in the name of achieving a competitive edge — though Patriots haters prefer the far less euphemistic term “cheating.” It’s a charge that has stemmed from the so-called Spygate incident of 2007, in which a Patriots employee was caught illicitly videotaping the hand signals of opposing coaches. For critics, that episode is emblematic of a team willing to do “whatever it takes” to win. Brady himself has denied any knowledge of or involvement in Spygate, but he does tend to discuss his need to win in notably desperate terms. When I met him in New York, he used the word “grieving” to characterize the period that follows postseason losses. He described losing as a “quality-of-life issue” for him after the Miami game at the beginning of the season. His ruthless competitiveness is legend, as is his reputation among players for trash talking, whining to referees and general unpleasantness on the field. Continue reading the main story All of which made the Patriots especially appetizing prey for football commentators in October. On ESPN, Trent Dilfer called them a “weak team” after the Kansas City game; on NBC, Rodney Harrison, a former Patriot, said Brady looked “scared to death” on the field. At a weekly news conference, a reporter asked Brady, “Do you feel like you’re past your prime?” Bloggers were imagining possible Brady trades. Chris Mortensen reported on ESPN that “tension” between Brady and the Patriots’ coaching staff might put his immediate future with the team in doubt. That story came out a few hours before the Week 5 game against Cincinnati, which at 3-0 was the league’s last undefeated team. “We’re on to Cincinnati,” Belichick kept saying all week, to the point where it evolved into a season-long mantra reflecting the team’s compulsive focus on its next opponent. The Bengals were talented, were coming off a bye week and appeared primed to take advantage of the Patriots’ sudden mediocrity. Brady dispatched that presumption on his first possession, leading the Patriots down the field on a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown drive. He ran the ball three times and completed two passes. Later he threw a 27-yard pass to the tight end Rob Gronkowski that made Brady the sixth player in N.F.L. history to pass for more than 50,000 yards. Especially striking was Brady’s demeanor, the return of the bouncy exuberance that had been absent from his play all season. The Patriots went on to win, 43-17. Belichick presented the game ball to Brady for his 50,000-yard milestone in the postgame locker room, and everyone cheered. I saw Brady briefly there. He was wrapped in a towel and carrying a toothbrush, exiting a shower room that was echoing with singing and chanting teammates. “Nice seeing you here,” he said to me. “You picked a good week.” I told him I’d see him soon. “Awesome,” he said. Shortly afterward, at his postgame news conference, Brady was asked if he was aware of the doom-saying that had been directed at him. “It’s hard to be oblivious to things,” he said. “We all have TVs or the Internet. . . . The emails I get from people that are always so concerned, and I’m always emailing them back, telling them: ‘Nobody died or anything. It’s just a loss.' ” But what about all the slights and doubters? he was asked. He always seemed to have such clear recall of those. “That might be unfair,” Brady protested, mildly. But his Cheshire cat smile betrayed an unmistakable satisfaction. Writing for Grantland, Charles P. Pierce, the author of “Moving the Chains,” an early-career biography of Brady that was published in 2006, described the quarterback at that moment as “a 37-year-old, 225-pound cat looking very much like he’d swallowed a four-ton canary.” The victory began a seven-game winning streak that tied the Patriots for the best record in the league, 9-2. Brady looked like a different quarterback than he had been earlier in the season. He even ran for 17 yards on a third-and-11 play in the second game against Miami — his longest rush in seven years — and he later celebrated by posting a clip of it on his Facebook page to the tune of the “Chariots of Fire” theme song. “Oh, man, he looked like a gazelle out there,” the Patriots fullback James Develin said after the game. (A spry and healthy gazelle!) Continue reading the main story One blip came in mid-October, on the Friday practice before a road game against the Buffalo Bills, when a teammate stepped on Brady’s ankle and he missed the rest of practice. He limped badly off the field, which elicited obvious concern. But Guerrero “worked” the area, Brady played that Sunday and the Patriots won, 37-22. I returned to Gillette the Wednesday before Thanksgiving as the Patriots were preparing to play the 8-3 Green Bay Packers. It was a dreary, sleeting day in Foxborough — perfect weather for a Belichick news conference. When the coach was asked whether it was an advantage that he, Belichick, had never faced Aaron Rodgers, the Packers’ quarterback, he said: “I mean, it is what it is. Whatever hasn’t happened hasn’t happened.” In response to a question about whether he saw any similarities between Rodgers and Brady, Belichick said, “They both wear number 12,” then walked off. Stacey James, the team’s longtime head of media relations, walked over and led me to the office of “Mr. Kraft.” Deadpan and efficient, James might have the toughest job of its kind in the league — running interference between an aggressive core of beat reporters, a mumbling control freak of a head coach and an image-conscious owner. Robert Kraft, who is 73, bought the team in 1994 and has been one of the game’s most successful and visible owners. Because his team has won three championships this century, Kraft has had occasion to give the acceptance speech upon receiving the Super Bowl trophy in front of the biggest television audience of the year. Those remarks have tended to be slightly overwrought, but the Patriots organization dutifully treats them as if they were pearls from Gettysburg. “At this time in our country . . . we are all Patriots,” Kraft shouted upon receiving his first Super Bowl trophy, just a few months after the Sept. 11 attacks, as red, white and blue confetti rained down on the field. “We are all Patriots” is rendered in big letters on the wall near the entrance to the reception area outside his office; Kraft’s grandiloquence after the Patriots’ third Super Bowl win in 2005 is piped over loudspeakers into the team’s Patriot Place Pro Shop. Kraft cuts a considerably more rumpled figure in his office than the bespoke magnate we see in the owner’s box. On this day, he wore a wrinkled blue dress shirt, and his hair and desk were a mess. He was sucking hard candy to alleviate a dry throat. Multiple TVs were on, and one office wall was filled with game balls and numerous prints and photos, including one of Kraft at the Western Wall beside a skullcap-wearing Brady. Kraft, who was raised in an observant Jewish family in Brookline, Mass., speaks with familial pride about many of the players who have come through Foxborough. Randy Moss, a former receiver on the team, paid a shiva call to Kraft’s house after the owner’s wife of nearly 50 years, Myra, died in 2011. He signed the guest book “Randy Moss Kraft,” Kraft told me. Continue reading the main story Kraft tends to go off on tangents and lose track of what he’s saying. “I have terrible A.D.D.,” he said a few times. “One of the reasons I wanted to buy the team is because I have A.D.D., so as I got older, I would be able to have something that I know would be challenging.” After several minutes of zigzagging, Kraft announced that it was time to “do business,” and he jumped into an extended kvelling over his prized quarterback (“One of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever met in my life” . . . “physically very handsome, but as a human being he’s more beautiful” . . . “like a fifth son to me”). After a few minutes, I cooled things off when I raised the possibility that things could end badly between Brady and the Patriots. They often do for stars around the N.F.L., with its salary cap and nonguaranteed player contracts, and the Patriots have a prodigious rap sheet in this regard. They have traded or released several of their most accomplished players over the years, sometimes in the most callous and untimely manner. Kraft calls the N.F.L. a “sick” business. He said the hardest part of owning a team comes when his emotional bonds conflict with hard bottom lines. No doubt this is true, and it would be difficult to argue with the team’s success. But it does seem that the harsh realities tend to be heavy favorites when they face off against familial loyalty at Patriot Place. “Randy Moss Kraft,” for instance, was shipped off to Minnesota in the middle of the 2010 season. Photo Brady's wife, the supermodel Gisele Bündchen, and his best friend and "body coach," Alex Guerrero. Credit Bauer-Griffin Kraft never answered my question about a disagreeable ending between the team and Brady, except to say something about the two of them working together to restructure the quarterback’s contract, which was far more complicated than people realized. “With all due respect to the media, they don’t know what’s really going on,” Kraft told me. “No one would believe what’s really going on.” I put the “ending badly” question to Brady’s actual father. Unburdened by diplomacy or loyalty to anyone but his son, the original Tom Brady did not hesitate. “It will end badly,” he said. “It does end badly. And I know that because I know what Tommy wants to do. He wants to play till he’s 70.” He noted the drafting of Garoppolo and said the Patriots smartly didn’t want to be “caught with their pants down,” as the Colts were when Peyton Manning was injured a few years ago. “It’s a cold business,” the senior Brady said. “And for as much as you want it to be familial, it isn’t.” In late December, I received an email from Yee asking if I could be in Boston the first week in January. The Patriots had finished the season 12-4, the best record in the A.F.C. Brady felt awesome and had managed to avoid injuries in the second half of the season, with the exception of straining his right pointer finger when Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh threw him to the ground in the Patriots’ 34-9 win over Detroit in Week 12. “I love the space Tommy is in right now,” Guerrero told me in December. Continue reading the main story I told Yee that I could definitely make it, and on Jan. 1, Brady sent me an email with the address of his new mansion in Brookline. But when I arrived a day later, the security booth was vacant, the gate at the end of the driveway was locked and nothing happened when I pressed the intercom button. I was now a few minutes late. Belichick had cut players over less. Finally, the gate opened. The quarterback was waiting on his front stoop. “You,” I said, greeting him, “are protected.” He laughed. This was an allusion to a TV ad that Brady did for Visa a few years ago in which his linemen sat with him at a fancy restaurant. “With VISA, you’re protected,” the ad goes, and the left tackle Matt Light then explains to a confused Brady what the linemen are doing there. “Tom, we’re figurative metaphors,” Light says. “And we represent the five layers of security that surround you in a pocket of protection.” Brady asked me what happened when I pressed the intercom button at the gate. Nothing, I said. He shook his head with the exasperation of someone who still considered himself close to being the regular guy whose front door in San Mateo was readily opened to those who knocked. I grew up a few miles, and tax brackets, away from here a few decades ago, when it was not uncommon to see Larry Bird outside his unassuming Brookline home washing his car or mowing his lawn. Brady’s place is a fortress by comparison, not that you can blame him in this age of iPhone paparazzi. He led me into a den that doubles as a gallery for his photos and mementos. There were no signs of the M.V.P. and Super Bowl trophies. No Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year awards, no photos of him with the presidents and popes he has met. As athletes’ personal shrines go, it was quite lame, and I said so. “I know,” Brady told me. “I don’t know how all of this got sorted out.” It’s not that Brady does not appreciate souvenirs. He saves end-zone pylons from big games. He kept a ball from his first Super Bowl victory and a pair of cleats from his second. He just had no idea where they were. His wife took over the decorating after they moved from their brownstone in Back Bay in Boston last year and into this 14,000-square-foot manor. Home décor, like pro football, is a cold business. But Brady tends not to equate immortality with hardware anyway. Whenever he is asked to name his favorite Super Bowl win, his reply is “the next one.” Kraft lives around the corner from his “fifth son.” It was Kraft who suggested that Brady consider building here, in this rarefied Chestnut Hill enclave, when Brady expressed interest in moving to the suburbs to raise his kids. Brady had always preferred the bustle of city living and for years was one of the few members of the Patriots to actually live in Boston, despite the 40-minute commute to Foxborough. But Brady’s relocation to this particular high-end neighborhood represented a step toward the more sedate existence that is better suited to the advancing years that everyone keeps reminding him about. Continue reading the main story Brady was sporting a brown playoff beard, a lush beige cardigan and, on his sockless feet, a new pair of UGGs, the Australian-made sheepskin boots that he endorses. He stood at the window and admired the view out back. “It’s really beautiful here, every morning,” Brady said. “The sun comes up, it’s Zen-like.” He led me into a yard behind the house that is next to the Country Club, one of the oldest golf courses in the United States. Much of this 5.2-acre lot used to be a wooded area, but many of the trees had to be cut down, which, he said, pretty much broke Bündchen’s heart. Brady pointed to a barnlike guesthouse being built next to the backyard. “My wife calls that her sanctuary,” Brady said. It will be a place to do yoga, work and even photo shoots. He turned back to the golf course and was nearly chop-blocked by the family pit-bull mix, Lua, darting by. Brady again declared the view beautiful, this time modifying his description with a most un-Zen-like profanity. He marched me back into the house, through the kitchen and past a shelf that displayed a large glass menorah. “We’re not Jewish,” Brady said when I asked him about this. “But I think we’re into everything. . . . I don’t know what I believe. I think there’s a belief system, I’m just not sure what it is.” After Brady won his third Super Bowl in 2005, he seemed to betray a wistful sense of anticlimax in an interview with Steve Kroft on “60 Minutes.” “Maybe a lot of people would say, ‘Hey, man, this is what it is, I’ve reached my goal,' ” he told Kroft. “Me, I think, God, it’s got to be more than this.” I read this quote back to Brady, nearly 10 years and zero Super Bowl victories later, and he laughed at his naïveté. “I got a litany of Bibles sent to me after that,” Brady told me. “When I think back on that, what a narrow perspective I had. I’m 27. I don’t know [expletive]. Not that I know [expletive] at 37.” People throw out numbers: 42? 45? Does Brady have an age to which he thinks he can still play? He was sitting in his den and becoming quite animated as he discussed the recent history of aging star quarterbacks. John Elway, the Denver Broncos’ Hall of Famer, was the oldest quarterback ever to win a Super Bowl, at 38. Peyton Manning is 38, a year older than Brady. And there was Brett Favre, whose run with the Packers ended when they traded him in for a newer model, Aaron Rodgers, in 2008. Favre was sent to the Jets, spent a year there and then signed with Minnesota. At 41, he had a great year with the Vikings. “He threw that interception in the Saints game,” Brady said, recalling Favre’s colossal mishap in the closing seconds of regulation time during the 2010 N.F.C. championship game. Beyond that, there is virtually no precedent for 40-something star quarterbacks. If Brady can perform at a high level until 43 or 44, would he regard that as history-­making? “I think so, I think so,” he said in a way that made it clear he had thought a lot about this already. Photo Brady with the game ball after throwing a touchdown in the third quarter of the A.F.C. championship. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times Continue reading the main story What jumped to my mind, though I did not mention it, was how hard it had been for Favre to let go. The spectacle was difficult to watch: his agonizing, his retiring, the tears, the questioning of whether he was “guilty of retiring early,” his un-retirement and the different teams (and the concussions and the memory loss). Brady is not there yet, but could that be his fate? “I just know that I’m sitting here at age 37 and I feel perfect at the end of 16 games,” Brady told me. “My arm doesn’t hurt, my legs don’t hurt. My teammates, they’re hurting.” It is, of course, impossible today to discuss a star athlete who is “defying age” without bringing up performance-enhancing drugs. Brady has been mostly above suspicion in this regard, although he apparently once had a phone conversation with Greg Anderson, the personal trainer to Barry Bonds who was in the middle of the Balco scandal a decade ago. (The call involved a possible future workout, Anderson said in a statement to prosecutors, but nothing came of it — he and Brady never met.) Guerrero dispenses his own line of nutritional supplements through TB12, which he assured me he tested independently to ensure compliance with the league’s drug policies. Brady, too, told me he was “absolutely” sure nothing he was ingesting could get him into trouble. It may also be that Brady has just been lucky. He has suffered few, if any, concussions. Referees tend to protect quarterbacks as they would fine china. Linebackers, for instance, can’t talk like Brady. Perhaps Brady will feel as if he can play forever — right up to the moment he can’t. Drew Bledsoe, the face of the franchise before him, felt great, too. And then, in 2001, the Jets’ linebacker Mo Lewis smashed into him on the sideline with an impact that witnesses compared to a car crash. Bledsoe suffered a sheared blood vessel in his chest, and Tom Brady became a household name. I asked Brady if he worried that too much of his life was wrapped up in football. This seemed an odd question to ask of, well, a football player. But Brady’s investment in the game has been so total for so long, I couldn’t help wondering whether his age-defying quest was driven by some fear of how futile it might be to find satisfaction in anything else. Brady ducked my question, except to confirm its premise: that football is pretty much everything to him. No real hobbies. “I’m not a musician, not an artist,” he said. “What am I going to do, go scuba diving?” Yet he comes off as anything but a bonehead football player. He will have to find something one day. “Maybe not,” Brady said with a laugh. I tried a different tack. Does Brady worry about confronting a void? No shortage of former players have lamented that nothing after football measures up to its exhilaration and camaraderie. This turned Brady serious. You need a purpose when you wake up every morning, he said. “When I don’t have the purpose of football, I know that’s going to be a really hard thing for me,” he said. Continue reading the main story Out the window, Brady saw four men approaching his front door. They are part of the team working to complete the Tom Mahal. I told Brady that this article would be published on Super Bowl Sunday, unless the Patriots lost in the playoffs. “We’re not going to lose,” he said. Wes Welker would lose. His Broncos went out early, to the Indianapolis Colts. I looked up at a photo of Welker, who has caught the most passes in Patriots history. He was a prize Guerrero disciple, standing with him and Brady. They were smiling, the TB12 trio looking happy. Now Welker is 33, with too many concussions to count. Will he know when to walk away? What will even be left of Welker in 10 years? Peyton Manning would lose. He looked old, faring poorly against the Colts while reportedly playing with a torn thigh muscle. Was his time up? Brady and Manning have been compared and competing forever. And you know Brady takes some satisfaction in being healthier, at this moment at least, and letting Manning deal with the retirement vigils. Brady has games left to prepare for and narratives to mock. A few days later, someone asked him at a news conference what it would mean to win a Super Bowl “at this stage” of his career. “ 'This stage’?” Brady shot back, taunting. “What does that mean? What stage is that?” A couple of Sundays later, Brady and the Patriots received their sixth conference-­championship trophy on a makeshift stage in Gillette Stadium after crushing the Colts, 45-7. They were going to the Super Bowl. Brady declared it a season of ups and downs and said, “Right now, we’re up, baby.” That lasted until the very next morning, when news broke that the N.F.L. was investigating the Patriots for having played with underinflated footballs on offense, a violation of league rules. Brady called the charge “ridiculous” that day, but when he called me from his home on Wednesday, he seemed to be venturing into a most un-Brady-like territory: nervousness. He said he was immersed in studying film of the Seattle Seahawks and was in full “ignore the noise” mode, using a Belichick catchphrase. When I started asking questions about deflated footballs, I became noise. “I’ve got so many things to focus on in the next 10 days,” he said. “And this is not one of them.” Not for long. Twenty-four hours later, Brady was the main attraction at a circuslike news conference carried live by CNN. Standing before a backdrop of corporate logos, Brady wore a goofy Patriots ski hat adorned with the throwback minuteman logo. “This isn’t ISIS,” he said in one of his more notable moments. “You know, no one’s dying.” He talked about “the integrity of the game” (he’s for it), “fair play” (also for it) and whether he was a cheater (“I don’t believe so”). Outside the bunker, public opinion was running heavily against the Patriots and Brady. There was a sense, at the news conference, of people seizing on a rare moment of vulnerability and comeuppance for Tom Brady — a wounded gazelle. Continue reading the main story Continue reading the main story Brady has long prided himself on the fact that he has succeeded despite not being the most gifted or talented athlete. This is a classic trope of star athletes, who use self-­deprecation to disguise self-­congratulation for their work ethic and mental prowess. “I’m always a thinker — I’ve got to outthink them,” Brady told me once, referring to his competitors. He talked a lot about flouting conventional wisdom. But does that extend to flouting rules? Suddenly, the story of Tom Brady’s season shifted from a tale of pushing limits to one that included suspicion of sneaking past them. As Brady’s news conference wound down, he seemed to regain his footing through a familiar theme: adversity. The Patriots would rally around one another. Brady had previously said to me that he tends to view most things in his life through the prism of people who doubt him — his abilities, his age, even the legitimacy of his biggest achievements. And now, his integrity. At some point it seemed to dawn on him that there was an overcrowded room full of doubt right in front of him. A whole country. And this seemed, in this moment, to settle him. Maybe by the time everything played out, that would make the story even sweeter. Watching this, I was reminded of something Brady said to me days earlier as we looked back on his season. “Like with all the stuff we’ve been through,” he said, “it’s not like, ‘Here you go, Tom — silver platter, and here’s this trophy.’ No, you had to go through all this stuff. “How amazing if we win this Super Bowl?” Correction: January 28, 2015 An earlier version of a picture caption with this article misspelled the name of the city in Massachusetts where Gillette Stadium is located. It is Foxborough, not Foxboro.

Brophy Wednesday 04 February 2015 - 02:40 am | | Brophy Blog

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