Tom Brady Is Not Comeback Player of the Year Material

Nick LiljaCorrespondent IMay 21, 2009

GLENDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 03:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots huddles with his team during Super Bowl XLII against the New York Giants on February 3, 2008 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.  (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

It's about that time, Ms. Amber, to take a note:


"Dear Associated Press,


"I know what you are thinking. I've been one of you before. You love 'The Man.' You love the champions, the undefeated, you love helping the rich get richer, as they say.


"You love the New England Patriots.


"I can understand why, too. The New England Patriots are an oddity, really. Here is a team in the Northeast, surrounded by limelight. Every team bigger than the last. In egos, that is. The Yankees, the Red Sox. The Jets, the Giants. The Celtics and Knicks.


"Sure, they have their humble moments, but when people think of these teams, they think of stars. Broadway Joe, The Babe, Clemens, Kevin Garnett—the list goes on forever.


"Then there are the Patriots—a living cliché, where winning isn't everything, but the only thing. And the only thing that slays the ego is a W.


"It's a place where egos go to die. Just look at Randy Moss. A team that has turned 'me' guys into 'we' guys.


"Really, Tom Brady as comeback player of the year is a misnomer; you have to see that.


"Sure, he is technically eligible, but you have to see why he can't get it, right? He is the product of a great system. A great team, really.


"I don't know how much you dabble in the sciences but in physics they say that a product cannot be greater than the sum of its parts. Two plus two cannot equal seven. But in New England, 11 plus 11 equals 97. That also happens to be the number of wins they have had since 2001.


"The Patriots are an anomaly in the world of sports. Perhaps an anomaly in the world.


"A throwback to the Yankees of the '40s and '50s. You wouldn't give Yogi Berra the comeback award in '46, would you? Maybe a Purple Heart, but not a comeback award.


"Really, A.P., there are a few credentials one must carry to be dubbed fully eligible to carry the moniker 'Comeback Player of the Year.' Your team has to suffer with you on the sidelines.


"Think about it. When Carson Palmer went down in the playoffs, his team suffered immediately and couldn't win a game—or even a quarter against the Steelers. They lost the game 31-17.


"When Shawne Merriman was sidelined for an entire season, the Chargers defense struggled mightily. The team dropped to 25th in overall team defense—down 11 spots from the year before. The team went from guarantee to question mark.


"When Tom Brady went down last year, the Patriots went from an undefeated team to an 11-and-5 team. From guarantee to promise. They were still as dependable as tomorrow. When other teams lose star players they are out of the playoff race just as fast. When the Patriots lost Tom Brady they didn't even flinch.


"Matt Cassel is a good quarterback. He wasn't a diamond in the rough. The kid can play, but there is a reason every quarterback since Drew Bledsoe looks good in a Patriots uniform.


"It's the system. It's Bill Belichick. It's the team. It breeds success, A.P.


"I know it's going to be tempting to give the award to Brady after he returns and throws 30 touchdowns and completes over 60 percent of his passes.


"But try and see the big picture. It's not about the good player that comes back to the best team. It's about the best player that transforms a group of men back into a good team.


"That's the real definition of 'The Man.'"