For the second year in a row a New England Patriot will appear on the cover of Madden, after Rob Gronkowski’s appearance last season which lived up to the “curse” of ending the appearing player’s season early. So it’s no surprise that most of us got dry heaves when it was announced that Tom Brady would be featured this year.
— EA SPORTS Madden NFL (@EAMaddenNFL) May 12, 2017
Brady responded with a Facebook video that seemed to tempt fate, making things even worse.
Tom Brady is on the Madden cover and he’s really out here testing the gods lmaooooo pic.twitter.com/IAxzm5kWCe
— abdul 🚀 (@Advil) May 12, 2017
The implications of the Madden Curse are a little overrated. Eight-and-a-half times the cover boy had the kind of season the folks at EA expected, including four All Pros and four Pro Bowls, and eight-and-a-half other times their seasons were bad or resulted in injury. That’s right, 50-50 right on the nose, which in reality is just about every NFL’s players chances of having a bad or injury-marred year.
Still, it’s just another thing for Patriots fans to worry about when in reality, they shouldn’t have all the much to worry about. Or should they?
Tom E. Curran had this piece earlier this week saying there’s a “gathering storm” around Brady and Garoppolo and that the decision between the two of them is coming, and coming fast. I don’t entirely disagree, but I found Jacoby Brissett’s complete absence from the article a bit curious.
We don’t know Brissett’s ceiling but he showed great poise and toughness when he was thrust into two starts early last season. The Patriots thought enough of Brissett to bring him back onto the roster off IR at the end of the season, giving him firsthand experience on a Super Bowl team. You don’t do that for a third string quarterback if you don’t see him as a long-term investment. And really Brissett’s contract and development lines up far better with Brady’s potential end game than Garoppolo, who the team will face a critical decision on next offseason.
But I digress on Brissett. If you can’t acknowledge the possibility that it’s not going to be a smooth end for Brady in New England you’ve missed the last 17 years of Bill Belichick roster management. It certainly exists and Brady, his father and everyone else knows it. Endings like Tedy Bruschi’s, where the player and the coach both acknowledge it’s the end and they hold a teary joint press conference to put a cap on a terrific career, are by far the exception.
Perhaps Brady’s awareness that Belichick might see someone younger and cheaper as the better option before Brady’s ready to hang them up will prevent it from being acrimonious. It certainly won’t take the sting out of the end of Brady in New England and, gasp, possibly in another uniform but we can all begrudgingly nod our heads that it could play out like that.
If you haven’t started making peace with that potential end, get to it. But here’s the thing I’ve made peace with, Brady’s story and the experience we’ve had with him as fans is already written in stone. No one can take that away, seeing him rise from pick #199 to the GOAT. That story is already ours and even another five years of domination doesn’t alter the story all that much. I know he still seems very much in his prime and there’s nothing wrong with wanting titles six, seven, eight…but if Belichick truly feels that the best thing for another dominant decade-and-a-half is to make the switch to Garoppolo or Brissett or whoever, can we really doubt him?
Do we want to squeeze every last bit out of Brady until he’s a shell of himself? And don’t hate me, but is it better for the NFL if he does play a last season or two in somewhere like his hometown San Francisco or Arizona or… well we could deal with an NFC West team right? Maybe?
The simple fact is Brady could play until he’s 50 and look like Peyton Manning circa 2015 and there’d still be a QB-needy team willing to give him a contract. As much as I love Brady, I’m a Patriots fan and I’d rather win another Super Bowl with Garoppolo than watch Brady struggle just for sentimentality’s sake.
We’ve been spoiled with Brady and Belichick. Things have never been better. They’re coming off a record-setting Super Bowl. They re-loaded this offseason like they were still pissed off about something. Maybe some can talk themselves into the Raiders being ready to dethrone the Pats, but really the Pats are as stacked as they’ve ever been and it’s going to take a special effort to knock them off, or a bunch of critical injuries.
That leads me to my final point. For most mortals, an NFL football career is a fleeting thing. One injury can change everything in an instant and maybe the Madden Curse will make the Brady transition “easy” on us. Or maybe Brady will put up his best season yet, Brissett develops behind the scenes and Garoppolo becomes just another asset to be flipped to give Brady even more support. Then we can do this dance again year after year until it actually does end.
In the meantime, we’ve already had it better than anyone and it’s still going. Stop worrying and just try to enjoy every last moment of it. The end will figure itself out, but no one can take away the ride we’ve already been on, and it just might be fun to go on another one with another quarterback.