The 2012 NFL season is off and running, and NFL commentators, fans, bloggers, etc. are going all out with their reactions to Week One of the new season. Overreaction Monday saw the MVP award already handed to the Denver Broncos’ Peyton Manning. The Packers, Giants, Steelers, and other 0-1 teams were already declared out of the playoffs. The New York Jets were seen as this high scoring powerhouse because they ran roughshod over the inept Buffalo Bills. Even after Monday Night Football, Joe Flacco was declared “elite,” and not only that, the Ravens were already awarded the Super Bowl Trophy. I am sure glad the season lasts more than one week.
Something else happened on Overreaction Monday that I should have seen coming when the play happened. I didn’t think much of it, but here we go. I was watching the New England Patriots vs Tennessee Titans game, and early in the game, Patriots QB Tom Brady got sacked by Titans Defensive End Kamerion Wimbley. Wimbley’s knee inadvertently hit Brady’s face, and cut up Brady’s nose. Brady was checked on the sideline, and never missed a snap. He played the rest of the game with a bandage on his nose. In the post game press conference, he had a bigger bandage. The nose, which was not broken, became a huge deal. And Brady’s toughness, given that the man is very good looking, has come into question.
I would like to start with Tom Brady’s mental toughness. I will start with his time in Michigan where he challenged Brian Griese for the starting job. Griese got the start as he was the upperclassman. Brady eventually started, but then when Drew Henson came on the scene, Coach Carr juggled the two at first. But when Tom Brady established himself as the “Comeback Kid,” he got the job.
Next is the 2000 Draft where, as most NFL fans know, he was taken 199th in that draft. There were six QBs taken, Chad Pennington, Marc Bulger, Tee Martin, Chris Redman, Spergon Wynn, and Giovanni Carmazzi. I think that fact, plus his experience in Michigan, is what drives Brady mentally. As he said, the message was, “Maybe nobody wants you.” It had to take a lot mentally to use that kind of message as a motivation tool. be in NFL, you have to be mentally tough to deal with the pressures to succeed, the pressures to win, and the pressures to deal with crises. He is driven “every day to be the best QB for this team.”
Let’s look at Tom Brady’s physical toughness. In an NFL player’s career, however long it lasts, injuries will happen. It is an unfortunate part of the game. Whether they are minor, or career threatening, NFL players risk injury every time they step on the field to play for us NFL fans.
Quarterbacks are no different, and because of their vulnerability due to the nature of their position, they are really at risk. After that ball is hiked, if the offensive line doesn’t do its job, and/or the QB holds the ball too long, disaster can strike when a defender, or several of them come bearing down on said QB.
If your QB is seriously injured, and either your backup is terrible, or your team can not function without him, (See Indianapolis Colts’ 2011 Season) your team is in big trouble.
That being said, there are many QBs that have suffered injuries, some that have put them on the IR (Injured Reserve), and some that are very painful, but they play through them. There are QBs that take a lot of hits, and such. I am talking about guys like Michael Vick who gets sacked a lot, and takes hits, especially if he runs. Ben Roethlisberger is another one of these guys. Not only will Ben take hits, his QB rating goes up after he gets hit.
Ben also will play through just about any kind of injury, even if it winds up hurting the team.
Before I get bombarded with Steeler fans sending me hate mail, I ask people to go back, and watch last year’s Monday Night Football game against San Fransisco. The Steelers had a chance to go ahead of Baltimore, as the Ravens had lost. Ben suffered a high ankle sprain the WEEK BEFORE against the Browns. What happened? On the preview show before MNF, Ben was shown limping around, and in no shape to play. Well, the Steeler staff let him play anyway, and the Steelers got destroyed by San Fransisco.
Well, guess which OTHER top QB has played through injuries, and has suffered an injury that put HIM on IR? It is Tom Brady. Guess what? Brady has even taken BIG HITS too. Like many others, he has popped right back up, and went back in the huddle for the next play. As for the injury that sent him to the IR, that was on Week One of the 2008 Season at the Patriots’ Home Opener, when after Tom Brady threw a pass, then Kansas City Chiefs Safety Bernard Pollard, in an effort to sack Brady, smashed Brady’s left knee, tearing the QB’s ACL, and MCL. Tom missed the entire 2008 season, and underwent surgery, and had to fight off a couple of infections.
Brady returned in 2009, and had an uneven statistical season, but lead the team back to the playoffs. Brady was not only working himself back physically, and mentally from the knee injury, but he also played injured all season. He played through broken ribs, thanks to Albert Haynesworth, then of the Washington Redskins, and a broken finger on his throwing hand. ( http://www.sbnation.com/2010/1/3/1232552/report-tom-brady-has-broken-ribs )
Brady also played through the slightly separated left shoulder he suffered near the end of the Miami Dolphins Game last season (2011) all the way through to the Super Bowl. Brady played Super Bowl 42 with that infamous high ankle sprain he suffered against the San Diego Chargers in the AFC Championship Game. Of course, the latest “injury” he suffered happened on September 9, 2012, Tom Brady suffered a cut on his nose, and popped back up.
What gets my goat is that I read fans’ comments on Twitter, Facebook, message boards, etc saying Tom isn’t tough. I see the “Marsha” comments. Well, I don’t know about the other 31 QBs under center, but I see Brady take some HUGE hits. Last year, against the Broncos, Elvis Dumervil just blindsided Brady. What happened? Brady got up. I have seen the Colts’ DE Dwight Freeney just blast Tom plenty of times.
Brady pops right up.
So many times, I have seen one defensive player after another, from Ray Lewis to Calvin Pace hit, rush, hurry, sack, and just blindside Brady. What does he do? What do most (unless injured) all of them do? Pop right back up. Even when the pressure is closing in, Brady stands there in the pocket, and throws the ball downfield. The man is an incredible QB. He is one of the best ever.
My point in all this is that people are born the way they are. Brady happens to be good looking. That is not his fault. That is the way the chromosomes, and genes combined. He also happens to be a very talented QB that works hard at his craft. I know that is hard for some people to believe, but it is the truth. Toughness has nothing to do with looks. I mean, so what if Brady is good looking? Adrian Peterson of the Vikings is good looking, at least I think so. No one questions HIS toughness running through the tackles, and coming back from an ACL tear to boot.
I think lot of this “Brady is not tough.” nonsense comes from some media bias, such as Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s “First Take.” Smith said this morning, on Sept. 12th that “Brady dances more than Gregory Hines” when pressure comes near, implying Brady is not tough.
Perhaps Mr. Smith should know that he resets his feet, and steps up into the pocket when pressure is near.
In closing, I want to say that Tom Brady has fought to get to the top of his profession. His toughness, both mentally and physically is one of his best traits as a QB. Not only do his looks don’t matter, they shouldn’t matter. One has to be tough to play the QB position. When things go well, the QB gets all the praise. When things don’t, they get all the blame. Fairly or unfairly, that is how it is. No matter how you look, you have to be tough to deal with all that, and Tom Brady deals with it with class, grace, and toughness.
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifan