Monday, November 27, 2006

Tom Brady* -- asterisk man

With growing amazement each week, I note that the national sports media has made Tom Brady the only QB in NFL history who is entitled to a weekly asterisk. It seems that the media is so committed to the idea that Brady is one of the great all-time QBs that they can no longer simply report on his many failings. Thus, the development of the verbal asterisk which is the "excuse" which always follows the report of his weekly efforts.

When reporting on the efforts of the other QBs in the league, the media simply give us the numbers (e.g. "player X threw for 248 yards with 2 TDs and an INT"). We don't get told if the INT was really the fault of a receiver who ran the wrong route, had the ball stolen by a DB, or whatever. Just the numbers.

Brady, however, gets the verbal asterisk. For example, he threw 4 interceptions against the Colts earlier this year, but we were told that 3 of those were "deflections". The implication being that Brady wasn't really at fault. The reality is that each of his first 3 INTs were unquestionably his fault and the last one was the fault of both his RB and him (the RB let the ball skip off his hands, but Brady threw the short, easy pass much too high, thus putting his teammate in a bad position).

Yesterday, Brady threw 2 picks and both were his fault. He threw both into coverage where defenders were able to make plays on the ball. The hits by the defenders batted both balls in the air. Those are usually caught by the defense and these were. Of course, sports commentators at ESPN and elsewhere felt compelled to remind us that the balls were "deflected".

In fact, last year against KC in another 4 INT effort where Brady was lucky he didn't throw even more, one of his passes went straight at a DB who let the ball bounce off his hands and into the hands of another DB. Again, since it was "deflected", we got the asterisk treatment in order to make us believe that somehow Tom wasn't at fault.

Another example of the verbal asterisk this year has been the excuse that Brady has had to get used to some new receivers (not all, just some). We hear it every week. What a crock! New teammates are a constant in the NFL. Drew Brees joined a new team this fall and has played great despite having to learn to play with new receivers (as well as a new center, new backs, new coaches, a new offensive system with new terminology, and a new home in a new city).

Last night, Peyton Manning threw a pass to Marvin Harrison who caught the ball only to let his defender wrestle the ball away from him. Statistically, the perfectly thrown ball ends up as an interception charged to Manning (his only one). You won't hear an asterisk for Manning from the media today. His pass ended up as an interception -- end of story.

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