When the union first started pushing players to skip voluntary offseason workouts and when Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady spoke out in favor of players staying away, Simms and I joked (sort of) on PFT Live that Brady simply wants players on other teams to not be practicing when he is.
To Hall of Fame quarterback Troy Aikman, it’s no joke.
“I was surprised to hear Tom Brady say ‘Yeah, the players need more time off,’” Aikman said on the Flying Coach podcast with Rams coach Sean McVay and Peter Schrager, via JoeBucsFan.com. “He was very vocal. It shocked me, because I know Tom well. . . . And then I realized, that’s the greatness of Tom Brady, because I can assure you, he’s not taking those days off and that team is not taking those days off, and so he views it as a total competitive advantage. If teams are practicing less and he’s practicing more, that’s going to give him a leg up on the competition, and I think that was really the whole motivation in his comments.”
Indeed, Brady gathered his then-new teammates last year for offseason workouts during the early months of the pandemic, defying the NFL Players Association’s recommendation that players not gather in groups before training camp. He even dusted off FDR’s “only thing we have to fear is fear itself” while getting together with other players for practice sessions at a time when most were staying home and/or taking significant precautions when leaving the home.
As we now know, we collectively had a highly-contagious respiratory virus to fear, only that has killed more than 600,000 Americans and millions more worldwide. We still do, especially those who haven’t been vaccinated. (Who wants to bet Brady hasn’t been?)
The logic of this year’s position on offseason workouts was simple. If Brady managed to minimize participation elsewhere, he’d gather his teammates (as he did last year) and get in work at a time when eventual competitors weren’t. Also, as Brady continued to recover from “pretty serious” knee surgery in April in May, getting other players on other teams to not show up for offseason workouts prevented Brady and his teammates from falling behind.
Ultimately, Brady and his teammates got plenty of work in. They’re ready to go for 2021. And to the extent that other teams aren’t as ready when training camp opens, advantage TB12.
With Brady now having Super Bowl win No. 7 under his belt, all that matters is No. 8. Everything he says and does between now and Super Bowl LVI is focused solely on that end.