Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady had not conducted a press conference since coach Bruce Arians stepped down. When Brady finally faced reporters on Thursday, he was asked about one of the biggest topics of the offseason — his relationship with Arians.
The first question on the topic, based on the transcript circulated by the team, posed the question of whether there were any “substantive issues” between Brady an Arians.
“Zero whatsoever,” Brady said. “He and I have a great relationship. I think that’s part of why I chose here was because of Bruce. He and I have been in incredible communication, and I have great respect for him. He knows how I feel about him, and that’s the most important thing. And I know how he feels about me.”
Brady then was asked whether he was bothered by reported that he had a strained relationship with Arians.
“I don’t read a lot of them,” Brady said. (They all say they don’t read the reports, and yet they all seem to somehow be keenly aware of the contents of the reports.) “There are a lot of things that aren’t right that are said. I think the thing is — you try and come out and respond to everything that is not right [but] we don’t have to be right very often. We just have to be right every so often these days. I think if people click on it, then you read more of it, and obviously they’re clicking on it, so it’s what people want and what is talked about. It may not be accurate and that’s OK. I don’t make every pass either. I don’t complete every pass, so I understand not everyone can get it right all of the time.”
But this narrative wasn’t started by some pencil-necked clickbait artist. The fuse originally was lit by one of Brady’s former teammates, offensive lineman Rich Ohrnberger. So Brady had even more reason to be aware of the issue, and even more cause to not opt for complete and total silence.
Besides, Brady made it abundantly clear last June that he rarely should be listened to, on anything regarding any and all “substantive issues.”
“What I say versus what I think are two totally different things,” Brady said in an appearance on The Shop. “I would say 90 percent of what I say is probably not what I’m thinking. Which is challenging, you know? And I really admire people that actually can do that and say what they think, because they invite a lot of things into their life. And I think part of me that doesn’t like conflict, so in the end I always try to play it super flat.”
So why would he tell anyone that he had any sort of issue with Arians, or that Brady directly or indirectly hinged his return to the team on Arians not returning as the head coach? That’s exactly the kind of conflict that he avoids by concealing his true feelings.
As I’ve said before, I was told the night that Brady unretired that the next move in Tampa would be Arians stepping down. Seventeen days later, Arians did.
Also, consider this. If it’s true that “part of why I chose here was because of Bruce,” why wasn’t there a single expression of confusion, frustration, or consternation from Brady when, only 17 days after Brady decided to renew vows with the Bucs, Arians walked out the door? If the presence of Arians was such a key reason for Brady to be in Tampa, wouldn’t Brady be upset that, shortly after emerging from retirement, Arians rides off into the sunset?
So here’s the real question for any critical thinkers out there. Do Brady’s words about Arians fall within the 90 percent of the things Brady says that don’t reflect what he’s actually thinking, or do they fall within the 10 percent of the things he says that actually do?
The answer as to whether he little-white-lied about his true feelings may lay in his justification for strategic little-white-lying about what he’s really thinking: I really admire people that actually can do that and say what they think, because they invite a lot of things into their life. And I think part of me that doesn’t like conflict, so in the end I always try to play it super flat.