Bump in the road followed by a bump in pay
Tom Brady is our Beatle. He is our Jacko. He is Brady Gaga.
Larry Bird was big. Bobby Orr was big. But they didn’t work, play, raise families, drive, and negotiate in a TMZ/Twitter world with a 24/7 news cycle and a legion of cellphone-camera-wielding citizens. These are days of instant saturation coverage and Everyman-as-Mike Wallace. Tom Brady is the man for these times.
Yesterday was one wacky day in the life of Brady. He was involved in a serious car accident in the Back Bay early in the morning. There was high speed, a pedestrian was almost hit, and one of the passengers in one of the vehicles had to be pried from his van by the Jaws of Life. The injured man was transported to Brigham and Women’s Hospital via ambulance, and is listed in serious condition.
Brady, by all accounts, was unharmed. He declined medical assistance and went to work at Gillette Stadium in preparation for Sunday’s season opener against the Cincinnati Bengals. By late afternoon we had photos of Tom smiling and throwing passes at practice.
At halftime of last night’s NFL opener between the Vikings and Saints in New Orleans, it was learned that Brady had agreed to a new deal with the Patriots worth $18 million per year. Four more years for No. 12. He’s here until the end of the 2014 season.
Only here. Only with Tom. A day that started in frightening fashion ended with a late-night celebration.
The lasting lesson is all about fame. Tom Brady is the most famous New Englander of the 21st century. It’s that simple.
There are car crashes in our region every hour, but yesterday’s collision at the corner of Gloucester and Commonwealth was mega-news because it involved Brady.
Similarly, there are contract extensions signed all the time. But this is different. This is four more years for The Franchise.
I have always believed that John F. Kennedy and Ted Williams were New England’s top newsmakers of the 20th century. Now we have Mr. Brady. Tom’s supermodel wife, Gisele Bundchen, is news. His sons are news. His hair is news. His appearance at any restaurant is news. His charity deeds are news. His car accident is bigger than anything that’ll happen at the State House or City Hall this year. His new contract is a bigger deal than any Red Sox offseason acquisition.
Regional media outlets mobilized with hurricane fury when word broke of the accident involving Brady. Two Boston television stations dispatched helicopters to shoot practice from the sky (thank goodness the Patriots didn’t deploy their anti-aircraft missiles). Fans held their breath, worried that Tom might not be able to play this week. Fantasy geeks freaked. Some wondered about his vulnerability as he waded into the final year of his contract. What if he were to get hurt in an accident off the field?
Donald Trump weighed in from New York, granting an on-camera interview in which he expressed his affection for Brady.
Back Bay resident Ann Geupel had different concerns. She was worried about replacing her eyeglasses, which fell off and broke when she dodged the high-speed collision at approximately 6:30 a.m.
“I walk the dogs every morning,’’ Geupel, 74, said. “The van was going very fast and I couldn’t believe it wasn’t going to stop. The black car [Brady’s Audi] was turning right onto Commonwealth, but the van just ran the light. He got out of his car very quickly and was shaking the glass off him. There was glass everywhere. I got in the ambulance with him, but he didn’t want to go to the hospital. He said he was fine.’’
Was she a little stunned to be in the presence of Tom Brady at such a moment?
“I didn’t know it was him,’’ said Geupel. “I knew he was handsome, but I’m an Ohio State fan and he went to Michigan.’’
When Geupel was told that her handsome new friend was Tom Brady, she knew this was no ordinary accident. She became a 15-minute celebrity. After she was treated for her fall, she went to the hairdresser (“it needed a little color’’), then returned to the scene for an afternoon stroll and a few more interviews.
Brady was not made available to the media in Foxborough during the afternoon and we could not reach him for confirmation of his new deal last night. Some of the same reporters who’d combed through shattered glass in the Back Bay were calling sources for confirmation of Brady’s new megadeal.
There was no comment from Brady, but it doesn’t matter. Words from Brady are not necessary to inflate these largest of themes. In 1966, Gay Talese wrote a lengthy Esquire piece about futile attempts to interview Frank Sinatra. Ol’ Blue Eyes’s reclusiveness only made the subject more compelling. Talese’s “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold’’ stands as one of the great works of its time.
Now we have Sept. 9, 2010, featuring “Brady Involved in Car Crash,’’ followed by “Brady Agrees to Four-Year Pact.’’
We followed it every step of the way. And it’s already New England sports history.
And the corner of Gloucester and Commonwealth is already part of the Duck Boat Tours. And the streets of Patriot Place are paved with gold through 2014.
Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.