But we had yet to hear from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback at the center of the hubbub. That is until Thursday.
The Athletic’s Greg Auman broached the subject that has dominated Bucs headlines all week. Brady initially swatted the question away, asking Auman in response, “so what’s the question?”
After a moment to collect his thoughts, Brady provided this response to being asked if he was surprised by Arians’ criticism.
Tom Brady speaks on Bruce Arians’ criticism
“He’s a coach,” Brady said. “I’m a player. Just trying to win a game.”
And that was that. On to the next topic.
It’s a nothing response that would make his notoriously curt former head coach Bill Belichick proud.
What’s the message here?
While Brady’s words provided little insight, the terseness of his response indicates that there is some tension around the subject. Whether that feeling is reserved strictly for media making Arians’ comments the story of the week or if Brady has some angst in the tank for Arians remains a mystery.
Brady had the option to defuse the situation and declined.
Brady’s used to criticism
Brady, of course, has been criticized before. The aforementioned Belichick is one of football’s most notorious taskmasters and surely had harsher criticism for Brady over their two decades together than Arians levied this week.
Brady played poorly while throwing a pair of interceptions in Tampa Bay’s loss to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday. Arians said as much on Monday. His words weren’t out of line.
“He knew he didn’t play very well,” Arians told reporters. … “He looked like Tom Brady in practice all the time, so it’s kind of unusual to see that in a ball game because they didn’t do things that we didn’t get ready for.”
Bill Belichick’s criticism was private
What’s different here is that Arians’ criticism was public. Whatever harsh words Belichick ever had for Brady, he kept behind closed doors. So this is new territory for the six-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback.
Arians was not a mystery when Brady chose to sign with the Bucs this offseason. The 16-season NFL coaching veteran has a well-established reputation in football. Brady knew what he was signing up for.
Whether Brady assumed he was immune to Arians’ candid public ways because of his lofty stature is the unanswered question at play here. Brady didn’t dispel that idea otherwise on Thursday.
Will this linger?
If there is internal tension at play here, it’s the kind that festers with losing. Tack on a couple of Tampa Bay wins behind Arians’ comments, and they become an afterthought.
But if the ballyhooed Bucs pile up more losses after the NFL’s most-hyped offseason, this story is not going away.