Brady ends all doubts -- he's ready to play
Tom Brady and the Patriots arrived in Arizona on Sunday night and quickly eliminated any discussion on whether he's too injured to play in the Super Bowl, writes Len Pasquarelli.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Outside of the infamous Bruno Magli boots that became such a significant component of the O.J. Simpson trial, the fashionable, brown wing-tip lace-ups that New England quarterback Tom Brady wore to his Sunday night Super Bowl XLII news conference may have ranked as the most photographed shoes in recent history.
Of course, it wasn't Brady's choice of footwear, but rather the mildly sprained ankle encased in the right shoe that earned the object of intense scrutiny.
Brady strode into the interview room -- minus any discernable limp, it should be emphasized -- and camera men quickly directed their focus away from the dimple in his chin and down to his feet.
Not surprisingly, Brady, nattily attired in a blue, pinstripe suit, answered all the doubters by immediately announcing that he will play in Sunday's Super Bowl against the Giants.
"It's feeling good. I'll be ready to go," said Brady, who then acknowledged that the ankle injury did keep him off the field last week when the Patriots began installing their game plan with three practice sessions.
With those eight words, crisis averted. Bootgate has been given, well, the boot. The odds-makers in Vegas need not fret about reducing the spread. Ankle fetishists worldwide can find some other celebrity's talus bone to study.
Now the paparazzi that stalked Brady last week, camping outside the Manhattan home of his girlfriend, model Gisele Bundchen, can return to more serious pursuits. You know, stuff like Britney's emotional state, Paris' star-crossed love life, or whether the other NFL quarterback who has become tabloid fodder, Tony Romo of Dallas, is still dating blonde hotty Jessica Simpson.
Let's be honest: Did anybody really believe Brady wasn't going to start against the Giants?
The guy has started in 126 consecutive games, counting postseason contests, and he isn't about to miss a game of such historic significance, one he "hopes is a memorable fourth time" in the league championship game.
The only misstep Brady made Sunday was in offering up more detail than preferred by typically cryptic Pats coach Bill Belichick, who will not address Brady's status until Wednesday when NFL rules compel the teams to issue injury reports.
In the 2001 AFC Championship Game, Brady badly sprained his left ankle against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the man he'd replaced in the lineup, Drew Bledsoe, was forced to finish that contest. That year, there was no "open week" between the conference championship game and Super Bowl XXXVI. With less time to heal, Brady's health was a legitimate concern for much of the week.
How did he respond that time? Well, the ankle held up well and, in his first of three Super Bowl victories, so did Brady. He led his team downfield in the final minutes, getting the Patriots into range for Adam Vinatieri's game-winning field goal to upset the heavily favored St. Louis Rams.
In one of the more serious moments Sunday night, Belichick was asked about Brady's off-field celebrity, and how it affects his approach to football and his overall performance.
"However he manages his life, I'd say he does a really good job of it," Belichick responded.
The five other New England players who appeared at the week's initial media session overwhelmingly agreed. And center Dan Koppen, after taking a few tongue-in-cheek jabs at the quarterback and all the public attention that he has received, spoke at length about Brady's role as a team leader and "the consummate" team player.
"I think, as linemen, we have a little more leeway in giving him crap about all the [tabloid] stuff," Koppen said. "But we all know what he means to us."
It is expected that Brady will participate fully in practice on Wednesday, when the Pats get back onto the field, and that he will have no problem assimilating the game plan.
Brady did do some light jogging, and simulated dropbacks, and participated in some throwing on the sideline last week. How much?
"Well, enough to realize I'll be ready to play on Sunday," he said.
Enough, likely, to render the whole Bootgate story to little more than a footnote by the end of Super Bowl XLII.
Senior writer Len Pasquarelli covers the NFL for ESPN.com.
SUPER BOWL XLII
Game coverage• Belichick ready to move on from Super Bowl loss
• Nevada sports books lose record $2.6M
• View to a thrill: Record 97.5 million watch XLII
• Giants' win shatters viewership records
• Clayton: Can the Giants repeat?
• Simmons: Free fallin'
• Giants spoil Pats' perfect season
• Wojciechowski: Blame Pats for this debacle
• Wickersham: Brady dazed and confused
• Clayton: Eli lets instincts take over
• Clayton: N.Y. 'misfits' harass Brady
• Sando: Was Brady rattled?
• Mosley: Belichick left a second early
• Chadiha: Ten things we learned
• Garber: Tyree's catch one for the ages
• Zoom galleries 1 | 2 | Great SB upsets
• SportsNation: Best Super Bowl?
• SportsNation: Biggest SB upset?
• SportsNation: Your favorite commercials?
Commentary/Features• Clayton: Top five contenders for the next SB
• '72 Fins breathe sigh of relief after Giants win
• Chadiha: Giants enjoy underdog role
• Sando: Coughlin, Giants made it work
• Super Bowl picks: Our experts weigh in
• Merrill: Nine previously perfect Patriots
• Merrill: Harrison deals with his rep just fine
• Clayton: Giants' O-line worthy of accolades
• Pasquarelli: Tip Sheet
• Pasquarelli: Tip Sheet notes
• Wojciechowski: 15 reasons Patriots will win
• E-ticket: Patriots' man of mystery
• Sunday Countdown
• Clayton's First and Goal
• Chadiha: Giants miss Shockey
• Garber: Injured war vet inspires Giants
• Pasquarelli: The Pats' crucial cameos
• Garber: In Brady's world, insecurity remains
• Merrill: Hixon's traumatizing season
• Football Outsiders: SB numbers crunching
• Pasquarelli: Patriots' silent sentinel
• Wojciechowski: Unflappable Eli
• Sando: Brady rising among all-time QBs
• Chadiha: Giants' rookies playing prominent role
• Fleming: Cardinals/Pottsville Curse
• Clayton: Youth serving Giants well
• Chadiha: Ranking the best QBs by decade
• Klancnik: Top QBs by jersey number
• Hashmarks: Media day coverage | Gallery
• Pasquarelli: Pats' old-school LBs
• Helyar: Marketing windfall for Eli Manning
• Garber: Seau's ring quest
• Pasquarelli: Bruschi's full-circle journey
• Animated plays
• From the research room
• Chadiha: Pierce just wants to win
• Wojciechowski: Explaining Bill Belichick
• Helyar: Recession? Not at Super Bowl!
• Giants' Snee doesn't stray from roots
• Sando: Seymour in eye of storm
• Merrill: Welker scales new heights for Pats
• Pasquarelli: Brady is ready to play
• Garber: The preservation of Plaxico
• Pasquarelli: Hill's spirit lives on
• Clayton: Giants' juggling act at CB works
• Wickersham: Giant ideas
• Klosterman: All too perfect
• Crown Jewels: A look at Super Bowl rings
• FB Outsiders: Giants one of worst SB teams
• Helyar: Patriots will drive TV ratings
• Clayton: First and goal
• Chadiha: Giants' glory road
• Mosley: Brady's ankle saves the week
• Woj: Preseason predictions revisited
• Merrill: David Woodley's dark spotlight
• Former SB QBs: Plunkett | Rypien | Ferragamo
• More: Morton | Humphries | Hostetler | Eason
• Starting matchups of Super Bowl QBs
• Ranking the QB performances: 1-40 | 41-82
• Jaworski: Six Super Bowl surprises
• Joyner: Brady's bad decisions
• Clayton: Eli's managing fine
• Chadiha: Focused Giants
• AccuScore simulation: Pats to prevail
• Chadiha: First Look at the Super Bowl
• Playoff schedule
• Vermeil doubts spying made difference for Pats
• Fish: Ex-Ram Warner suspicious of Pats in SB XXXVI
• Report: Pats taped Rams' SB walk-through
• Specter to Goodell: Let's talk
• Fish: Possible 'Spygate' witness surfaces
• Easterbrook: NFL can blame itself for scandal's timing
• Munson: Congressional interest serious
• Pasquarelli: Specter should stick with politics
• Clayton: Spy saga won't distract Patriots
• Hashmarks at Goodell's news conference
• Specter to Goodell (.pdf)
• Goodell to Specter (.pdf)
Page 2• Gallo: Five stages of heartbreak for Pats' fans
• Hill: Best Super Bowl parties
• Hill: Teflon Tom Brady
• Popculture roundtable on the Super Bowl
• Hill: Raiders quit on Moss
• Flem File at the Super Bowl
• Fleming: Defining greatness
• Best teams never to win a title
• TMQ: Title-game analysis
• Why Boston teams are so good
• Gallo: Countdown to kickoff
• More from Page 2
News• Brady ankle not on injury report
• Brady on Plax prediction: Only 17 points for Pats?
• Carey named first black Super Bowl referee
• Brady practices in Pats' first Super Bowl session
• Ross gets sick as unified Giants face flu
• NFL not worried about spying
• Security high for Super Bowl
• Williams to be honored during Super Bowl
• Bootless Brady departs for Arizona
• Tickets reselling for average of $4,300
• Burress: Giants' receivers are better
Scouts Inc.• Roundtable: Seven scouts weigh in
• Super Bowl XLII X Factors
• Coaching comparison: Styles vary, results same
• Defensive line breakdowns
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 5)
• Matchups to watch in Super Bowl XLII
• Running-game breakdown
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 4)
• QB tale of the the tape
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 3)
• Ranking NFL QBs 1-64
• Take II on Super Bowl XLII
• Giants' DBs overmatched or underrated?
• Horton: Notes from film room (Day 2)
• Horton: 10 things to watch in SB XLII
• Horton: Notes from the film room (Day 1)
• A tale of two underrated O-lines
• Take I on Super Bowl XLII
• Players ranked Nos. 1-106
SportsNation• Vote: Which team will win?
• Vote: Who wins the head-to-head matchups?
• Vote: Which team are you rooting for?
• Conversation: Talk Super Bowl XLII
• Map: Which states are picking the Giants?
• Quiz: 42 Super Bowl history questions
• Chat: Buzzmaster: Hello from Arizona!
• Chat: Buzzmaster: Live from Media Day
• Chat: Buzzmaster: Live with oddsmaker
• Chat: Buzzmaster: Live with Matt Hasselbeck
• Chat: Buzzmaster: Live with Gregg Easterbrook
• Rank: Super Bowl's best individual performances
• Rank: Super Bowl coaches
• Rank: Super Bowl careers
• Rank: Super Bowl teams
• Rank: Super Bowl games
• Rank: Greatest all-time quarterbacks
• Vote: Potential for QB greatness?
• Quiz: Greatest quarterbacks
• ABCNews: Super Bowl or Super Tuesday?
• Chat Rewind: When did undefeated talk start?
• Vote: Can we proposition you?
• Pulse: What is SportsNation saying about XLII?