In May 2017, Tom Brady’s wife has made waves regarding her contention that the Patriots quarterback had a concussion last year and has had other concussions. The remarks put May 2016 comments from Brady himself into a new light.
While discussing the concussion issue with ABC News, Brady said that players who have suffered concussions need to be “treated the right way . . . [s]o that there are no long-term ramifications for it.” If Brady has indeed suffered concussion(s), it can fairly be assumed that he was treated the right way, so that there are no long-term ramifications.
So who treated him? If the Patriots did so secretly, the problem becomes something more than a garden-variety nose-thumbing of the injury reports, given the specific procedures and protocols that apply to concussions. If Brady obtained treatment on his own without telling the team, that opens an unprecedented can of worms.
It’s one thing for a player to pretend to not be concussed so that he can play and then quietly deal with the symptoms while they subside. It’s quite another for a player to bluff his way through a head injury and affirmatively seek treatment from someone other than the team.
For now, no one knows whether Brady actually suffered concussions, when they happened, whether the team knew or should have known, and whether Brady secretly secured treatment for the condition. But this would seem to be, at least on the surface, an issue far more substantive than a trumped-up claim of cheating arising from the question of whether Brady was involved in the manipulation of football air pressure aimed at allowing him to grip and throw the ball in circumvention of a rule the NFL had largely ignored.
If Brady has been suffering concussions, hiding them, and seeking out treatment without the knowledge or involvement of the team, this created a distinct competitive advantage for the Patriots. Put simply, it allowed him to be available to play when, based on rules far more meaningful than whether the air inside a football falls within an arbitrary range set decades ago by the manufacturer, other players aren’t available to play.