After a week of silence, Tom Brady looks to make a deafening statement in his Week 5 return against the Cleveland Browns.
Today’s the day for Tom Brady.
All the talk of deflated footballs, suspensions, court cases, and backup quarterbacks can finally be put to rest. No more Deflategate fallout. No more looming specter of en banc appeals or potential Supreme Court decisions. On this Sunday in October, the legendary quarterback finds his name on the lips of Patriots Nation, at long last, for a much more palatable reason–he’s under center.
It’s been quite the ride for Brady since the 2015 AFC Championship game. Within the parenthetical saga of Deflategate, he has won a fourth Super Bowl Championship, been victorious in one court case, and then rebuffed in another. If that drama wasn’t bad enough, he’s also had to endure the farcical banter of sports hosts and other various talking heads who lined up in droves to take shots at his legacy, never mind that science repeatedly exonerated both Brady and the Patriots from any wrongdoing.
Yet it is oddly fitting that Brady himself would eventually be the one to slam the other half of the parentheses shut, announcing in July that he would accept the league’s four-game suspension, effectively bringing the sordid affair to an awful, unsavory end. Even in the midst of being railroaded by the NFL and defamed by the media, Brady was able to have the final say in the matter, which had to bring him some measure of satisfaction, if bittersweet.
But that’s all over now.
For Brady, the time has come to get down to the business of football–something he’s excelled at over his 17-year career in New England. He returns to a 3-1 team that somehow managed to stay afloat in his absence, but now desperately needs his talent and experience to spark an offense that failed in every conceivable fashion last week against Buffalo. With the undefeated Broncos set to start a rookie quarterback this week against the red-hot Falcons, the opportunity to get back in the picture for top playoff seeding is there for the taking.
The Patriots are 10½ point favorites on the road against a hapless Cleveland team that’s yet to notch a victory this season, but the slate gets much tougher from there. New England will host Cincinnati next Sunday, travel to Pittsburgh a week later, and faces an eventual trip to Brady’s personal house of horrors in a Week 15 tilt with the Denver Broncos that will likely have serious AFC playoff implications.
If the Patriots hope to put themselves in contention for a first-round playoff bye, Brady is going to have to hit the ground running. Fortunately for him and the rest of Patriots Nation, Sunday’s clash with the Browns should serve as an opportune warm-up act before hitting the meat of the schedule.
With the dust of Deflategate finally settled, one surmises that it’s perhaps been a welcome change of pace for Brady to have the conversation surrounding him be about actual football again.