When fate turns on a fairy tale career
September 8, 2008
There is so much to read into Tom Brady’s injury, but before we get started let me say this: No way was that a dirty hit.
I understand that when the face of America’s premier professional sport gets his leg bent like a bow by an opponent’s last-second lunge, there are going to be questions. But it’s a nasty sport. Nasty, nasty, nasty.
Which is why, when we talk about the greatest players in NFL history, a short list that unquestionably includes Brady, we should also call them among the luckiest.
It takes a desperate man’s toughness to play through certain injuries, but no one is immune to a helmet torpedoing his knee at full speed. Those kinds of things can end careers. Or at least reduce their victims to fractions of their former selves.
Ask Daunte Culpepper, who was once on pace to be a revolutionary player, a Hall of Fame player. Then he shredded his knee. Last week, he retired.
I’m not saying Brady is in that kind of danger, but the point remains, it takes talent, grit, cool and confidence to star in the NFL. But you also need fate on your side, and when it’s not, even for a moment, the result can be disaster.
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Brady should know that well. Remember, it took a career-altering hit on Drew Bledsoe in 2001 for Brady to get his shot. When he made the most of it, winning three Super Bowls and basically rising to King Male status in football-obsessed America, everyone talked about his unheralded pedigree.
Full circle, anyone? Now it’s Brady giving way to Matt Cassel, a former USC backup and seventh-round draft pick who hasn’t started a game since high school. This is how life works.
Ironically ” or fortuitously, depending on how you look at it ” New England held out Brady the entire preseason to protect him for the regular season, delivering Cassel valuable game experience.
In other years Cassel might never have seen the field all season, but on Sunday it took less than half a quarter for him to be called upon. And perhaps lost in all the furor surrounding Brady’s injury was this simple fact: Led by Cassel, the Patriots won a monumentally important game. …
Quote of the Week comes from the U.S. Open, where Serena Williams, 26, won her third national title and ninth Grand Slam crown to cap an improbable return to the No. 1 ranking in the world.
The five years and one month that passed since she last held the post in 2003 (during which she dropped to 139th at one point) is the longest gap of its kind in pro tennis history.
Said Richard Williams, Serena’s father: “I describe her as being a combination of a pit bull dog, a young Mike Tyson and an alligator.”
Which is why, forgive me, I still can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened if Serena and her ex-boyfriend, NFL linebacker LaVar Arrington, had reproduced. …
Postscript: When Venus and Serena Williams play each other, as they did in a riveting quarterfinal last week, it is the highest level of play you will see in women’s tennis, and the alternative is not even close. …
Headline of the Week, from SI.com: “Warehouse worker dumps LeBron at H-O-R-S-E.” True story. Nuff said. …
Whatever the opposite of making a good first impression is, file this as such. Former Kansas players Darrell Arthur and Mario Chalmers were reportedly caught at an NBA rookie symposium last week ” the topic of which was how to stay out of trouble ” with marijuana and women in their room and subsequently sent home from the camp by a furious David Stern. …
From Week 1 of the NFL, it was a terrific Sunday to be: Michael Turner, Jake Delhomme, Brett Favre, a Brett Favre fan, Matt Ryan, Donovan McNabb.
But a terrible Sunday to be: Carson Palmer, Ted Thompson, the Lions, anyone owning Tom Brady in a fantasy league, the Rams. …
No team in baseball gets less credit for its success than the Angels. Yeah, they’re not really sure where they’re from ” first it was “California,” then “Anaheim,” now “Los Angeles of Anaheim” ” but they remain the class of the AL West.
To wit: The Angels lead their division by 17 games; no other division leader is ahead by more than four. …
In parting, speaking of under-the-radar success, Jamie Moyer won his 243rd game Sunday. I had to read that twice. Then I had to check his stats.
For a guy who throws fastballs slower than a lot of high school pitchers, Moyer sure is consistent. He’s won double digit games 12 of the last 13 years, part of a big-league career that stretches back to 1986.
” Breckenridge resident Devon O’Neil’s $0.02 column runs Tuesdays. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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