Hey, I’m guilty of it. We’re all guilty of it. We see a player get seriously injured and one of the first statements out of someone’s mouth is, “This may be career-threatening.”
The latest example of this is Peyton Manning. He recently had his second neck surgery in less than five months and at least one clown in the media wrote last week about how the Colts may wind up with Andrew Luck in next year’s draft. We live in a world where present news is old news and everyone has a blog nowadays so getting a jump on a story often takes precedence. But the media (and fans too, because they’re just as guilty even though the media provides a nice patsy for them) could learn a thing or two about Manning’s situation from Tom Brady.
As I watched Brady carve up the Dolphins for 517 yards and four touchdowns on Monday night, I had to laugh thinking about Matt Cassel’s 2008 season. He was so good that year that some wondered if the Pats should trade Brady and go with the younger Cassel at quarterback.
The idea wasn’t that far-fetched either. At the time, there was no timetable set for Brady’s return after he had season-ending knee surgery earlier in the year. Nobody knew when he would return in ‘09, or if he would return at all. Cassel was also set to become a free agent, which further complicated the situation. If the Pats traded him or allowed him to leave via free agency, they risked not having an experienced quarterback for 2009 if Brady couldn’t recover.
Brady was also 32 at the time and while guys like Kurt Warner, Kerry Collins and even Jeff Garcia proved that they could be effective past their 35th birthday, there was no guarantee that Brady would ever be what he was. It was an interesting time in New England and the media was having a field day with the possibilities.
But in hindsight, all of the Brady trade talk seems absolutely ridiculous now. First and foremost, the Patriots never gave any indication that they were willing to trade Brady. None at all, in fact. It was the media that continued to stir up controversy and while Cassel did lead the Chiefs to the playoffs last season, he continues to be a question mark for Kansas City.
Meanwhile, at 34 years old, Brady just turned in his best single-game performance in the last three seasons. Nobody is going to confuse Miami’s defense with the ‘85 Bears but the Dolphins aren’t pushovers on that side of the ball either. It helped that they were winded all night but the bottom line is that Brady was marvelous.
That’s why the media needs to pump the brakes when it comes to Manning’s injury. Granted, we’re not comparing apples to apples because the two injuries aren’t the same. Brady dealt with a knee injury while Manning just had a one-level cervical fusion. Both injuries are gruesome, but we simply cannot compare them.
That said, Brady’s situation should give everyone a moment of pause when it comes to Manning. Maybe Peyton won’t play this season but that doesn’t mean his career is over. Before anyone knew the severity of Manning’s injury, it would have been difficult to find one person willing to say his career is winding down — even at 35. In fact, maybe in three years everyone will have forgotten that he even had two surgeries when he’s playing in his third or fourth Super Bowl. Who knows? Patience is the key at this point.
Just ask Tom Brady.