Long after Matt Light steps away from his retirement press conference today he'll be remembered as the man who kept Tom Brady safe. For 11 years from his left tackle spot, Light served as one of the franchise's cornerstones and kept its face -- Brady -- in one piece.
FOXBORO -- All last week, leading up to the preseason game between the Patriots and the Panthers, sports talk radio (and television) debate raged: Should Tom Brady play?
On one side of the argument were those who believed Jimmy Garoppolo should receive every last game rep as he prepares to be the starter for the first four weeks of the regular season. On the other side were those who believed Brady needed work at some point between New England's AFC title game loss to the Broncos and this season's Week 5 matchup with the Browns.
Now we know how Bill Belichick and the Patriots felt: Brady played four series, completing three of his nine attempts, including one 33-yard touchdown to Chris Hogan.
But now, one week later, the debate may resurface. Brady has taken preseason game snaps. That can be checked off of the to-do list. Should he play again, though? If the goal is to keep him as sharp as possible for Cleveland, should he see time against the Giants?
He hopes to.
"I mean, [it's] always up to coach Belichick," Brady said during a press conference on Tuesday. "I wish I'd play every game. I love playing. I love playing in practice. I love playing in preseason games, regular season games, postseason games. I love thinking about football. It's just the way it is. That part, I think, would be very challenging watching those games in September, but I'll find ways to preoccupy my mind."
Brady alluded to the fact that he had to make the most of every repetition he has with the team before his four-game ban kicks in. Whether those repetitions come in practice -- Tuesday's practice will be his last with the Patriots -- or on Thursday night, they all carry importance in his eyes.
"I've got a good day of practice [Tuesday]," Brady said. "I've tried to look at all these days of practice as ways to get better. I have access to the fields, and throwing to my receivers. [I] try to use those days the best that I can, just like I always would. I got another, hopefully, opportunity to play on Thursday night, be with the team Friday, and then try to do the best that I can over the next month."
If the team decides that it is within its best interest to play Brady against the Giants, the question would then become when? Because the fourth preseason game is typically a last chance for fringe players to make their cases for roster spots, if Brady were to play late in the game, he may be playing behind players who might not be on the team soon thereafter. If he starts, it takes away an opportunity for either Garoppolo or Jacoby Brissett to make a start on the road and work against what will likely be more talented defensive players.
It may be a difficult call, something that Belichick alluded to earlier this week.
"I’m sure," Belichick said, "you could bring up a lot of ‘If we did this, if we did that,’ those would all be good, and they would be, and we do that in the staff meeting. ‘We’d like to do this, we’d like to do that,’ OK, but what’s most important? What is at the top of the list? Or, how can we maybe do two or three things if we do take a certain approach? So, that’s what we try to figure out, so we’ll see."
FOXBORO – Tom Brady offered strong support of Jimmy Garoppolo on Tuesday. In probably his last press conference until after his four-game Deflategate suspension, Brady was asked if his relationship with his backup is at all similar to Brady’s relationship to Drew Bledsoe back in 2000 and 2001, which Brady said was very much a mentoring atmosphere.
“I have no idea. We’re totally on different ends of the spectrum,” said Brady, referring to Garoppolo. “I love being with Jimmy. I’ve enjoyed every day that we’ve spent with him. I wish him the very best, obviously. For our team. For [him]. When you see people that it means a lot to, you always want them to succeed as well. It will be tough to watch but I will be excited to watch and excited to learn. And hopefully when I come back in October I’ll be a better player than I am today.”
The Brady-Garoppolo dynamic has deserved close observation in recent weeks because it gives fascinating insight into how the greatest quarterback of his generation deals with his own football mortality.
The four-game sabbatical is temporary. But Brady’s distress last week after missing the Bears game, saying he “only had so many games left” to play, his discomfort with not being able to physically lead the team that day and the unbridled practice intensity he’s shown (25-for-25 on a Friday in an intrasquad scrimmage), plus his apparent impatience to get into the damn game last week against Carolina all combined to show just how hard this is for Brady.
It’s not necessarily even about Garoppolo. It’s about someone other than Brady squatting in Brady’s huddle and leading his offense. So it was good that Brady articulated his support of Garoppolo both as a person and as a player.
Brady can be both beside himself about Garoppolo playing quarterback instead of him and still like the kid and hope for the best. Ignoring the former with “all is well” blinders on is missing out an opportunity to observe the mindset of one of the NFL’s all-time greatest players and what exactly made him great.
FOXBORO -- Tom Brady's smile at the Gillette Stadium podium belied his reluctance to divulge any information about his plans for his four-week suspension. He was, in essence, the feline pleasantly digesting the canary that the NFL had shoved down his throat.
Brady won't be allowed at the Patriots facilities, and he won't be allowed to be in contact with teammates or coaches for football-related matters. On Tuesday, in what will likely be his final meeting with reporters until after his suspension, Brady was asked what he'll do during his time away in order to remain sharp.
"We'll see," he said.
Would he plan on staying in the area?
"We'll see," he repeated.
OK, well, did he plan on telling members of the media exactly what he planned on doing?
"No," Brady said. "I don't. In case anyone else is in this situation in the future, I don't want to give away all my secrets."
Brady will gladly share his thoughts on his nutrition plan and deliver it to your doorstep for a couple hundred bucks, but workouts like the ones he performs on his own in the offseason -- or the ones he'll take on for most of September -- he generally keeps close to the vest.
Brady's business partner and friend Alex Guerrero, who along with Brady runs the TB12 Performance Center at Patriot Place, will be able to work with Brady during his time off. Guerrero is often on the Patriots sidelines or in the Patriots locker room, but he is not a team employee, meaning time with him would not violate the terms of Brady's suspension, an NFL spokesperson told CSN's Mike Giardi.
"That's nice of them," Brady said sarcastically.
"We've been working together for over 12 years now," Brady added. "He's one of my best friends. We'll do what we always do. Work. We'll use all these days in the best way that's possible to stay prepared and stay sharp. I have ideas that I need to do. Based on the practices that we've had and the limited playing time that I've had. My goal is to come back and be the best I can be. Just like every other year. Just like every offseason, I'm gonna do the best I can do over these next however many days, 30 days or so, to do the same thing.
"I've got a good day of practice. I've tried to look at all these days of practice as ways to get better. I have access to the fields, and throwing to my receivers. Try to use those days the best that I can, just like I always would. I got another hopefully opportunity to play on Thursday night, be with the team Friday, and then try to do the best that I can over the next month."
His plans for the next month, however, will remain secret for now.