What if the shoe could be on the other foot?
This weekend, it was firmly placed there when the bombshell announcement of Brady’s retirement hit the network’s airwaves, only for Brady and his entire camp to throw cold water on Adam Schefter and Jeff Darlington’s reporting in 30 different ways.
For three days, the pair continued to claim their reporting was valid, but Brady didn’t move an inch until announcing things himself on Tuesday morning.
Why would Schefter and Darlington stand by their reporting so vehemently if it hadn’t come via a hat tip from someone in Brady’s camp? Who else’s word could have made them so certain they were correct on this? And why, then, did Brady allow them to wither in the wind, even sending his father to the press to deny the rumblings?
Could it be a dish best served cold, seven years in the making? Because the Worldwide Leader looked pretty stupid on Saturday for splashing wall-to-wall coverage of Brady’s retirement across their networks while Brady himself said, “I am not retired.”
Did Tom Brady get Patriots revenge on ESPN by leaking his retirement?
Pats Nation, of course, are no fans of ESPN. They banged the drum in early Deflategate coverage, spinning a narrative that resulted in Brady’s four-game suspension out of the Ideal Gas Law. Almost on cue for years after the fact, Seth Wickersham and other insiders published columns detailing all the friction in the Belichick-Kraft-Brady triumvirate.
Other champions got celebrated. For the Patriots, ESPN seemingly only asked, “What’s the catch?”, then pivoted to profit once Brady moved on from New England, allowing him to air his “Man in the Arena” 85-part docuseries under their umbrella. As soon as Brady left the Patriots, he suddenly became a palatable moneymaker for the network.
Whatever happened this past weekend when Schefter and Darlington decided to launch their scoop, it’s resulted in ESPN looking either poorly prepared or disrespectful towards a great athlete at the end of his career.
If Brady had tweeted, “I’m back” after all of this, the retractions would’ve been embarrassment enough, and the scoop would have felt more and more like a well-placed grenade. Now that he’s hung ’em up? ESPN still looks like the bad guy, robbing an all-time great of his right to go out on his own terms.
No matter the end to the Brady saga, ESPN was been turned into the villain one last time. And doesn’t that seem a little deliberate on TB12’s end?