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And so the Kyle Trask era begins in the NFL.

I was surprised only that word of Brady’s decision got out so quickly. There was no question that he had decided to retire. His words following last Sunday’s loss to the Rams were entirely different from anything we had ever before heard him say at the end of any of his 22 NFL seasons. Once he invoked his wife’s sacrifices and his kids’ growing needs, there was no turning back.

The Greatest?  Yes. Hell, yes. It’s not close. Are you kidding? There is no legitimate or honest debate. And it’s not just (just?) the ten Super Bowl appearances (ten?) and seven (seven?) titles. It was the depth of his commitment, which I would maintain exceeded that of any other player in the 153-year history of the National Football League.  And, you know, there have been some other pretty committed guys…

Not only did he never cheat the game—meaning the sport—he never cheated A game. Ever. Folks talk about “respecting the process”? Tom Brady WAS the process. In Brady’s mind, there was a right way to do things and a wrong way to do things. And he unfailingly opted for the right way, both because it made sense and because he could do it no other way.

There was a right way to prepare. And that right way was “totally.” Each and every time.

OK. Let’s address this right now. No. “DeflateGate” does not define him. Sure. He was looking for an edge. Yeah. He told the equipment managers, “You know how I like the football.”  Every quarterback ever conveyed that same sentiment to every equipment manager ever. Trust me. It’s telling to me that no other quarterback said one damn word about DeflateGate. He never specifically told anybody, “Take that thing below the legal limit.” But he wanted it pushed to the ragged edge. I get that. For the record, Aaron Rodgers prefers balls inflated ABOVE the legal limit. Different strokes for different blokes.

I will never forget the first one. SB 36 (I ain’t no Roman!). Brady has to take over late in the season after Bledsoe’s horrific injury. (How would you like YOUR spleen ruptured?) It was just months after 9-11. We’re all hurting.

I remember pregame introductions in that game against the Rams, The Greatest Show on Turf.

In 35 previous Super Bowls, introductions had been made either individually or by position group. After the Rams had been introduced one at a time, I remember Pat F. Summerall intoning, as only could, “And now, CHOOSING to be introduced as a team, the New England Patriots.” And 53 guys in blue shirts WALKED onto the field in New Orleans.  Chilling.

Yeah. You know what happened in that game. It happened late. It always seemed to happen late. With apologies to James Silas, Brady WAS “Captain Late.”

I roll my eyes when I hear people say Brady was great “despite his lack of physical talent.”


Yeah, he ran like a glacier. So what? Too many NFL teams are overpaying their QBs based on their 40 times. That’s like paying a five-star chef according to their auto mechanic skills.

So that kind of eye-hand coordination is not “talent”? That accuracy is not “talent”? That unprecedented ability to read defenses (especially pre-snap) is not “talent.” That kind of toughness and availability is not “talent”? That manner of superhuman cool under pressure is not “talent”?

And arm strength?  How could anyone with eyes question his arm strength?  Even late in his career (like, you know, THIS season) that thing had the muzzle velocity of your average bazooka.

Brady wore numeral12. But the number that drove him was six, as in “6th round draft choice.” That wasn’t a chip on his shoulder, it was a rusty hubcap.

The Greatest? The only argument would be who gets the silver medal.

I hope he dogs a half-gallon of ice cream tonight.

Thank you, TB12. You were a sight to see.

One Response

  1. The VERY best evaluation of The Great Brady I’ve ever read. And I KNOW you are NOT a Patriots fan. Thank you for putting the GOAT’s career in perspective. LOVED the “rusty hubcap” crack because that’s exactly what it was.

    PS-I think Kyle Trask is going to be a terrific NFL QB.

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Paul's Bio

I clearly have the attention span of your median fruit fly.Look! Airplane!

Sorry. I’m back.

It’s both a curse and a blessing. I’ve never bought this stuff about, “He who dies with the most toys wins.” But I do think that a wide range of life experiences helps us grow as people, and helps us better relate to other people. I’ve been fortunate. And I am beyond grateful.

I show up on time. I go like hell. I’m a good listener. I hold myself accountable. I own my mistakes. And I have a natural and an insatiable curiosity. I’m never afraid to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t. But then I try to find out.

The flip side is I’m a lousy ballroom dancer and my clothes sometimes fit me funny.

Stuff matters to me. I care. But while I take that stuff seriously, I try hard to never take myself seriously. As a result, I have sometimes been told, “Paul, it’s hard to tell when you’re serious and when you’re just having some fun. Which is it? Serious or fun?”

My answer is “yes.” But I think that is a legitimate criticism. I promise I’m going to work on that.

This has been the quickest and strangest half-century I’ve ever experienced. During that period, I’ve been afforded amazing opportunities in news and sports journalism across all platforms. I have taught wonderful students at the high school and collegiate level. Always, I learned more from them than they did from me. I’ve been a high school administrator. I spent ten seasons as a high school varsity football coach. I’ve been an advertising executive. I’ve hosted nationally syndicated television entertainment shows. In maybe the biggest honor I ever received, I was selected by NASA to be “Chet The Astronaut” for the “Land The Shuttle” simulator at Space Center Houston. (All I can say there, is “Do as I say, not as I do.” I put that thing in the Everglades more often than not.) Most recently, I just wrapped up a decade as a television news director, during which time our teams distinguished themselves in holding the powerful accountable, achieving both critical and ratings success.

What does all that mean? It means I am profoundly grateful. It also means I’m ready for “next.” So here we are. Radically Rational. It’s an idea I woke up with in 2017. I scribbled “Radically Rational” on a piece of notebook paper and used a magnet to stick it on our refrigerator. I saw it every day, and it just would not leave me alone.

I am second in charge at Radically Rational, LLC. My wife, Jo (also known as BB), is the president. Clearly, I have failed in my attempt to sleep my way to the top of this organization.

I hope you will learn that I’m loyal as a Labrador. But I will admit that this doggie can bite every now and then. My promise to you? I will show up on time. I will go like hell. I will listen to you earnestly and attentively. I will hold myself accountable. I will never be the least bit hesitant to say, “I don’t know,” when I don’t.

But then I’ll try to find out. Let’s do it.