There are many ways to respond to the rumors that Tom Brady might not be 100% healthy. After word circulated that the 40-year-old jammed his right hand and suffered a cut during a handoff Wednesday—and even more so after he missed practice Thursday—we saw just about all of those ways play out. From afar, Dr. David Chao suggested Brady may have an open finger dislocation. Riley McAtee investigated reports that Brady's thumb looked boxy in a glove during the open period of practice by looking at blown-up photos (then again, whose thumb doesn't look weird at 12x). Doug Kyed analyzed the humor in teammates' responses to questions about the hand and came away optimistic. Jaguars defensive tackle Malik Jackson also seemed to doubt the seriousness of Brady's condition.
Surely, we'll get many more suggestions, investigations, analyses, and doubts today as Brady is scheduled to put his hands on the podium and speak to the media. But this is far from the first instance of panic over Brady's health before a big game. Remember Brady's "flu-like" symptoms before the 2014 AFC championship game in Denver? Or the boot he was spotted in before Super Bowl XLII? In January 2005, he had a 103-degree fever the night before the AFC title game.
He lost two of those three games. So, what does that tell us? Absolutely nothing, of course. We won't know a thing about Brady's hand until he takes the field Sunday, when he will be closely watched every time he drops back to pass. As usual.
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1. A new study, published in Brain, found that subconcussive hits can lead to CTE (the full study is here if you're interested). "We're really worried about the many more people who are getting hit and getting hurt—their brain is getting hurt—but are not getting help because we can't see the evidence on the outside that their brain is actually hurt," said Dr. Lee Goldstein, the study's lead investigator. "It's a silent injury."? Meanwhile, some former players are hoping kids won't play tackle football before age 14.
2. Following the apparent suicide of Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski, former Cougars QB Drew Bledsoe posted a heartfelt message on Instagram. "As men we have to learn to TALK about how we are feeling. Suicide is the #2 killer of men between 18-45!!," he wrote. "Reaching out for help when we need it is NOT a sign of weakness. Trusting your friends and asking for help is the ultimate sign of STRENGTH!!"
3. "I know your first question," Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Thursday, "and I'm not even going to wait for it. Yes, Sark (embattled offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian) is coming back in 2018."
4. Sunday, Vikings safety Terence Newman will play his 231st career game—and his first conference championship tilt. "Words don’t really do it," Newman said. "But knowing we have a chance. That’s all anyone could ever ask for in anything in life—an opportunity, a chance to be great and do great things. We have a chance to do that.”?
5. Two members of the Eagles' analytics team communicate with Doug Pederson during games. That's one of several tidbits in this story on Philadelphia's embrace of numbers.
6. With Saints punter Thomas Morstead's charity having received nearly $200,000 from Vikings fans, Josh Katzenstein set out to learn how Morstead ended up running back onto the field for Sunday's meaningless extra point, setting off the giving spree.
7. Take this for what you will: the Broncos staff will coach Baker Mayfield and Josh Allen at the Senior Bowl.
8. This is inside baseball, but also noteworthy: NFL chief spokesman Joe Lockhart is leaving the organization. "After the season, I plan to take some time off, do some political commentary, maybe go back to teaching if I can find some students willing to listen," he reportedly wrote in a memo to league staff members. "I will be available to all of you should an old man’s advice ever be of interest."?
9. I'm not sure what the Detroit Free Press is going to have left to write about after Matt Patricia is actually announced as head coach. Here's another dive by Dave Birkett, going back to Patricia's time growing up under two schoolteachers in Sherrill, N.Y.
10. Ok, fine. Here's a mock draft. I won't tell anyone you clicked it.
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If Doug Marrone upsets the Patriots Sunday, he might have a group of first graders to thank.
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