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Brady and the Bucs

To argue that Tom Brady is at a crossroads would be to understate the obvious. With the Buccaneers sporting a 3-4 slate that looked close to impossible at the start of the season, he understands the stakes heading into today’s match against the Ravens. By all accounts, his numbers remain among the National Football League’s best under center. Then again, he isn’t deemed the sport’s best player of all time because he puts up gaudy stats; rather, it’s because he is able to provide the leadership necessary to lift the performances of those around him so that they make up an even greater whole. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened this year.

True, football is a team sport, and while quarterbacks do set the table, they need help on both ends of the field. Certainly, that help was what Brady expected to get when he quickly took back his retirement in the offseason and decided to take aim at the hardware one more time. He doesn’t have anything more to prove, so his return is, above all else, a manifestation of his desire to scratch the itch. But his itch isn’t to play; it’s to win. And he thought he had solid support to see his plans through. Else, he wouldn’t have set aside precious time with his family.

Perhaps the Buccaneers can still turn their fortunes around. It’s not as if they don’t have the manpower to do so. On the other hand, fate hasn’t been kind to them so far. Injuries have put a crimp on their competitiveness; for instance, they’ll be hosting the Ravens today with four starters sidelined due to a cacophony of ailments. Which is why oddsmakers have pegged them the underdogs. And should the prognosis hold true, it will mark the first time in two decades Brady has suffered from a three-game losing skein.

Brady will try to do all he can to avoid ignominious defeat, but he knows the outcome isn’t his to carve alone. To be sure, he isn’t doing himself any favors when he chews out the offensive line or throws a tantrum in public. Because of his status as a living legend, all eyes will invariably be on him, and he would do well to keep his frustrations in check. Whether he does so is, perhaps, reflective of his chicken-and-egg situation. He’s not bound to lose his cool if the Buccaneers are winning, but he needs to keep it in the first place for them to have a chance to prevail. If nothing else, the dynamic makes for must-see fare.

Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994. He is a consultant on strategic planning, operations and Human Resources management, corporate communications, and business development.

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