After last week brought several reports of coronavirus outbreaks among NFL teams whose players were working out together, the NFLPA sent a letter requesting players stop doing that. Which makes sense. Players don't need to be working out together right now. It's not that big of an ask in the spirit of trying to limit the spread of a global pandemic.
Unless you're Tom Brady, apparently. Local news captured footage of Brady working out with his teammates on Monday, days after the NFLPA sent their request.
Brady also posted several Instagram pictures from the day, including one with Rob Gronkowski with the title "no excuses." Ian Rapoport talked about this on NFL Network this afternoon and said nobody from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the Players Association, or the NFL wants to talk about this because, well, it's Tom Brady.
That... is bad! I understand why reps from those organizations would be hesitant to come out and condemn one of the league's living legends. But do you know what doesn't care about who Tom Brady is or what he's done? Coronavirus! It doesn't matter how many vitamin supplements Brady takes or how much water he drinks or how careful he is in his day-to-day life. Brady could test positive after doing everything right, just like the rest of us. By going against the recommendation of the NFLPA's lead medical professional, Brady is not doing everything right. He's putting himself and his teammates at a big risk. Yes, as athletes, they may not be affected by COVID-19 as much as the older crowd, but it is worth reminding everyone that: 1. Young people have been hospitalized and died after testing positive and 2. We have no real grasp on what the long-term effects of this are.
And Brady is risking all of this for... what, exactly? Rapoport said he needs every rep he can get to ensure he's ready for the season. I mean, okay, so does everyone else, and they're abiding by the rules and regulations laid out by a DOCTOR. Brady's irrepressible strive for greatness can be admirable. It's anything but here. He couldn't stand throwing into a net for a month until training camp ramps up in the interest of keeping himself and his teammates coronavirus-free? That seems selfish, not another example of his maniacal work ethic that we all should apply to our own lives.
Brady isn't the only one at fault here. His teammates are their own people and should not escape criticism for actively making this decision. But where leaders go, others follow. Brady has as much of a grasp on that as anybody after being the face of the New England Patriots and the league for the better part of two decades. His folly here simply means more than unnamed 49ers players working out in Nashville together.
Sometimes I wonder if everyone really grasps the full implications of a "global pandemic." That's not just an easy way to label this. It's true in every sense. And yet there is Tom Brady, working out in a park with his new coworkers like he doesn't have a care in the world.