Man, if there were a BostonVoice website, a New England version of PhillyVoice, the local boutique media outlet, would it ever have a field day with that Tom Brady jerk. You know, the quarterback who just won his sixth Super Bowl on Sunday night, that louse.
Selfish? Hoo boy. The guy strong-armed his organization into trading away backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo because people were starting to suggest that perhaps the younger man was a better option.
A bully? Brady went toe-to-toe with coach Bill Belichick about having his personal trainer on the team plane and at the team facility just for his own care and satisfaction. This is the football equivalent of throwing down with Mothra.
Competitive to a fault? The Patriots have a drill at the end of one practice every week, with the quarterbacks trying to perfect their fade passes by throwing the ball into a bucket in the corner of the end zone. On those days Brady doesn’t win the drill, it is best not to speak to him.
Oh, there’s plenty more to be said about the 41-year-old with all the rings, and BostonVoice could certainly locate a half-dozen teammates, or sources close to teammates, or sources close to sources close to teammates, to confirm that Brady is all of those things. In other words: a quarterback.
You can go back through the grainy black-and-white history of the NFL and find that a team meeting led by Norm Van Brocklin wasn’t exactly an encounter group session. Or that John Unitas screamed profanely at teammates who dared speak out of turn in his huddle.
Talleyrand, who coached France under Napoleon (a rather Belichickian fellow himself), said, “I am more afraid of an army of 100 sheep led by a lion than an army of 100 lions led by a sheep.” Give me the lion behind center every time, and I don’t care if someone’s feelings are hurt occasionally.
That’s why the dustup that followed the PhillyVoice revelation that Carson Wentz is competitive and sure of himself and driven was mysterious. So what?
“I’ll be the first to admit I can be selfish. We’re all kind of stubborn in our own right to liking certain plays or liking certain things our way,” Wentz said, during a small, invitation-only news conference convened to air his side of things. “So, in my mind, I’m like, ‘OK, am I ever over the top with that?’ Like, can I be better? Kind of still be stubborn, with humility more?”
Oh, man. It’s great that he’s doing a deep self-scout of his personality, one supposes, but the Eagles aren’t necessarily going to be better off if he becomes St. Augustine. They need him to be Tom Brady.
» SUPER BOWL LIII: It was far from Brady’s best, but the G.O.A.T. led the Pats to another title
As for the notion that not everybody loves everybody in a locker room, that shouldn’t be a shocker, either. In any office of 50 people -- whether an insurance office, a carpenters’ hall, or a football locker room -- there is going to be friction. Some workers are more favored by the boss. Some are in danger of losing their jobs. Some are better paid than others. Some are just trying to get noticed.
Go into any downtown office building and push any floor number on the elevator. That’s what you’re going to find when you step out, and to expect a locker room to be different because the employees wear the same color jersey is a fantasy world created by fans.
Wentz said he was so focused on rehabilitating his knee before last season that he might have not have spent as much time hanging with his teammates as he could have.
“There’s that element that I definitely kind of look back on, like, ‘Were there moments or were there opportunities that I just kind of neglected because I put just wanting to be healthy first?’” he said. “And so there’s things that you look back and you’re like, ‘OK, that’s something I can’t lose sight of,’ whether you’re going through an injury or you’re 100 percent healthy.”
Again, that’s a noble conclusion for him to reach, but if there was a single teammate who thought it was more important to enjoy a rousing game of dominoes in the back room rather than have the franchise quarterback devote every moment to his knee, then something was way out of whack. If that sort of thing was really a factor in the whispered sniping that allegedly took place, then those teammates aren’t mentally tough enough to be led by a lion. And good riddance.
I believe Carson Wentz is capable of leading the Eagles to another championship, and that if he gets better injury luck it will happen sooner than later. He’s very good, very smart and is only going to get better.
If that next Super Bowl win happens, however, it won’t be because he is universally loved in the locker room, or docilely takes the game plan without offering his own suggestions, or is without human shortcomings. It will be because he can throw the ball into the bucket better than the other guys, and because it means so much that he gets angry when he doesn’t. Just ask the imperfect man with six rings.
» COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT: Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz discusses criticism, health, Nick Foles, and more