Remember Tom Brady's car accident from last week? It seems like forever ago, since we've had a full week of real, actual NFL football since then, and it turned out to be a minor story when Brady emerged with nary a scratch or bruise.
A week later, though, there may still be some damage to be done. A Joanna Weiss column from the Boston Globe takes Brady to task for accepting the car he was driving, a $97,000 Audi S8 loaner, as a gift from the Best Buddies charity.
Is he going to use that extra 97 grand for gold-plated faucets or platinum baby strollers or whatever it is people buy when they have more money than God? Was he really out of touch enough to joke, in the locker room after Sunday’s game, that “I just wanted to get the 2011, so I had to crash the 2010’’?
Brady had a choice, after all. The honorable thing — for someone who makes a bazillion dollars and whose wife makes two bazillion — would have been to say, “Thanks, Audi and Best Buddies, but I’ll buy my own car. Take that $97,000 you’re writing off and use it for the charity, instead.’’
Now, before we rake Brady over the coals and say he's no better than someone who beats and mugs a Salvation Army Santa Claus, there's a pretty rational defense of Brady here.
Audi helps to sponsor the Best Buddies charity, and as part of that sponsorship deal, they provide Best Buddies with cars, and those cars can be given to celebrity endorsers like Brady. The cars help attract endorsers, endorsers help Best Buddies raise more money, and Audi gets its name attached to a charity and Tom Brady(notes) in one of its cars. Everyone wins.
So there's a reason Tom Brady gets that perk. It's not like Tom Brady went to Best Buddies and said, "Listen, you cough up an Audi S8, or we'll see how happy the little Buddies are to be throwing the football around with Brian Hoyer(notes)."
Still, I keep coming back to something Joanna Weiss wrote -- that Brady had a choice. There's no getting around that. There was a point in time where he had to decide between, "Yes, I will take this $97,000 car from Best Buddies," or "Listen, I think we can find a better use for this car than giving it to me, because if I wanted to, I could afford to pay a dozen Portuguese belly dancers to carry me around in a chariot woven out of dupioni silk and Brett Favre's(notes) beard clippings."
He took the car. Imagine you can put yourself in Brady's shoes: You're a multi-millionaire, can have anything in the world you want, and this charity -- which you support out of the goodness of your own heart -- offered you an Audi S8. What would you do?