Not heard over the recent blubbering of Cleveland Cavaliers fans is this absolute truism: There’s no loyalty in sports. And by the way, there simply shouldn’t be.
I don’t know why the departure of LeGone James needs to serve as a reminder, but that Decision — like every other cold, calculated, heartless business decision from the sports landscape — should also serve as a cautionary tale to Patriots fans who assume Tom Brady will retire in Foxboro.
Certainly, the Patriots want Brady, and almost as certainly, they’ll make every effort to lock him up until he’s Brett Favre’s age. By all appearances, Brady wants to remain a Patriot and has never shown any inclination to hold out or strive to be a free agent. A deal is almost guaranteed to get done. Key word there: almost.
The optimists ignore the Patriot way of doing business and the evidence of players filing out the exit door. The examples of Ty Law, Lawyer Malloy, Deion Branch, Willie McGinest, Mike Vrabel and so many others don’t apply, because Brady is different. He’s the face of the franchise. Agreed. But the Patriot way is to assign a value to a player and not to exceed that value, and that’s where things can get less certain.
First of all, what is Brady’s value going forward? That’s the real question I assume the Patriots are asking. It would be totally out of character for ownership to wonder, “What do we owe Brady for all he’s done for us?”
I’m sure they believe the $60 million they will have paid him by the end of this year covers what he’s done. Do they strike you as the kind of businessmen who will reward past accomplishments by overpaying for future ones? Why would they? Out of loyalty? Love and appreciation? Those things don’t exist. And if Brady doesn’t hear the right numbers, he’s unlikely to show any loyalty to the Patriots — or to the fans who have cheered and adored him the past 10 years. Nor should he.
The only thing working in favor of both sides is that Brady continues to be worth the money. His value is as high as anyone’s, and the Pats should recognize that. Done. Or … What if the Colts give Peyton Manning an astronomically large contract? If they set the market in an irresponsible way, how will the Patriots react? What about Brady? As always, this will come down to money. And it could get to a point where too much is too much. Then, all bets are off.
—?Bob Halloran is a sports anchor and author.
Follow him on Twitter @BobHalloran63
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