“He has concussions pretty much every year. We don’t talk about it, but he does have concussions,” Gisele Bündchen, wife of the star quarterback, said in a TV appearance in May. Yet her comments received only a fraction of the attention they deserved.
Another pro football season is about to begin, Tom Brady will again be taking snaps for the New England Patriots, and there’s chatter galore about how much longer that can last. He turned 40 on Aug. 3. In quarterback years, he’s a fossil.
But isn’t he also above the laws of nature? His performance in the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory over the Atlanta Falcons early this year suggested as much, and his every painstakingly plotted hour is part of a campaign not just to cheat Father Time but to cackle at him.
I’ve read and heard scads about Brady’s all-organic, caffeine-free, anti-inflammatory dietary regimen; his techniques for enhanced muscle pliability; and his injury-preventing, youth-preserving “body coach,” who’s apparently some Ponce de León of the pectorals. Thanks to this sorcery, Brady maintains the strength of arm to throw downfield and the sturdiness of leg to sidestep a blitz.
But what about Brady from the neck up? Even if he has the brawn to press on, what are the risks to his brain?
In a May appearance on “CBS This Morning,” his wife, Gisele Bündchen, either sent a message to her husband through the television camera or made a slip, telling the world something that Brady certainly hasn’t. “He has concussions pretty much every year,” she said. “We don’t talk about it, but he does have concussions.”
She even claimed that he’d suffered one last season. If that’s true, neither he nor the Patriots disclosed it.
Bündchen’s comments received only a fraction of the attention they deserved, as Malcolm Gladwell, who has written extensively about head trauma in football, noted on a podcast in June. “Why isn’t there a stronger drumbeat for him to retire?” Gladwell asked, adding, “I do not want to see Tom Brady at 55 drooling into a cup.”
Alarmist? I doubt that the recently retired college football analyst Ed Cunningham would see it that way. In The New York Times last week, Cunningham, 48, told my colleague John Branch that he had quit his high-profile TV job because he could no longer sanction such a dangerous sport. “I just don’t think the game is safe for the brain,” he said.
His frequent on-air…