Former No. 1 overall pick John Matuszak was in the movie "North Dallas Forty" playing, not surprisingly, a football player. This was toward the tail end of his career with the Raiders but still years before his groundbreaking star turn as Sloth from "The Goonies."
Anyway, he has a line that I always assumed summed up the life of a pro football player better than any other. Maybe due to the fact that the movie and the novel it was based on were both written by Peter Gent, who spent five years playing for the Cowboys. And the line is this. Leaning into his coach's face in the middle of a heated beef with his coach Charles Durning he unloads:
"Job? Job? I don't want know fucking job! I want to play football, you asshole! I want some feeling! I want some fucking TEAM SPIRIT!"
"This ain't no high school. You don't have to love each other to play."
"That's just what I mean, you bastard! Every time I call it a game, you call it a business. And every time I call it a business, you call it a game!"
(Quick aside, you know Durning was one of the great actors of all time by the way he pulled off the role of this weaselly coach. In real life he was one of the baddest men in uniform during WWII,. survived shrapnel wounds from a German mine in Normandy and is buried in Arlington National.)
Maybe I'm naive. I've only been in the Patriots locker room when it was open to the press, when everyone is as genuine as the animatronics at the Hall of Presidents, so who am I to say? Perhaps it is just a job. Like working in a football shop. All about getting paid and making business decisions all day then punching out and going home.
But if that's the case, everything we've learned about Tom Brady over two decades is wrong. And I don't believe for a hot second that's true. There have been too many emotional moments. Too many speeches. Too much inspiration. And more genuine, heartfelt expressions of love than the entire series run of "This is Us."
Those were two years apart. I'm going to pause here now to collect myself.
[Deep breath] OK, I'm back. Where was I?
Oh, right. Julian Edelman and Chase Winovich, just making the emotional appeal to Brady has to mean something. It simply has to. How can those two guys put Cupid's Bro Arrow through Brady's heart and without it resonating with a guy who has such a connection to them both? From the outside looking in, Edelman has seemed to be the best friend he's ever had. He's caught the most passes from him. Made the clutchest catches. Won the most. They're more than QB/WR pals. They're what used to be called boon companions. Bosom chums. Theirs is a psychic link that has to transcend some weird need to see what Tennessee has to offer or how much the runt of Al Davis' litter wants to make a splash in Las Vegas. Isn't it?
As far as Winovich, the connection is shorter by 10 years or so. But there's unmistakable bond that comes from their both being Michigan Men. Who know what it's like to wear the Maize & Blue, run out the tunnel at the Big House and lose to Ohio State and all that. I know nothing about it but you hear those Michigan guys talk about it ad nauseum. So don't tell me it's all horseshit at a time like this. Because I will tell you it doesn't sound like it:
This is what I'm pinning my hopes on. That for all the tens of millions and years and up front bonuses and guaranteed money that is not tied to incentives that will be thrown at Brady in 20 days, when it comes right down to it, there's too much of this for him to really want to leave. Too much of a connection. To much bro love.
I'm hoping and expecting it'll be like that time Red Auerbach was on his way to NYC to go take over the Knicks. And the cabbie driving him to the airport made an emotional appeal for him to stay and bring back the dynasty. It worked. Larry Bird soon followed and so did the titles. We don't know who that driver was but he's one of the great unsung heroes in the history of Boston. We do know who is making the same sort of appeal to Brady. And it has to be a billion times more powerful.
That's what I'm telling myself, anyway. I'm sure in the morning we'll hear something completely different from a dozen football media guys. Until then these posts by Edelman and Winovich will help me sleep tonight.