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It’s not surprising if Tom Brady didn’t tell Patriots about concussions

05.18.17 at 1:19 pm ET
Gisele Bundchen says Tom Brady has suffered previously undisclosed concussions.  (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

Gisele Bundchen says Tom Brady has suffered previously undisclosed concussions. (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)

Gisele Bundchen sparked headlines Wednesday when she told CBS’ Charlie Rose that her husband, Tom Brady, has suffered concussions during his playing career. While that would appear to be self-evident –– football and head injuries are nearly synonymous with each other nowadays –– the revelation was noteworthy because Brady has never been listed on the injury report with a concussion in 16 seasons. That means, if Bundchen is telling the truth, Brady might be hiding his symptoms from the Patriots.

In a statement, the NFL says “no paperwork indicates” Brady suffered a head injury last season or complained of concussion-like symptoms. The league’s apparent non-chalentness about the matter is telling, considering the draconian punishment that was levied on the Patriots for Deflategate. Not documenting your star quarterback’s apparent concussions, which would make him available to play when protocol states he should be inactive, seems to be a much more egregious violation than playing with slightly under-inflated footballs.

That is, unless the NFL knows this kind of alleged behavior runs rampant throughout the league.

Ever since the NFL implemented the concussion protocol in 2011, there’s been a concerted effort to stamp down on head injuries. Last season, the league says the number of reported concussions fell 11.3 percent.

But players and teams also routinely try to skirt their way around the rules. The most recent example happened in January, when the Dolphins cleared quarterback Matt Moore to return to the field in the wild card round without documenting all of his symptoms. The league was forced to introduce additional rules to the protocol last year after Rams QB Case Keenum wasn’t removed from a game after getting his head slammed to the ground (tests confirmed he was concussed).

Patriots fans saw an apparent violation of the protocol first-hand in Super Bowl XLIX, when wide receiver Julian Edelman didn’t miss a snap after Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor had laid him out with a helmet-to-helmet hit.

In an interview last year on Bill Simmons’ “Any Given Wednesday,” Seattle wideout Doug Baldwin talked about how NFL players fake their way through the sideline concussion tests. “It’s relatively known around the league –– officials know –– it’s not an exact science,” he said. “We know the protocol. So if you’re cognitively there somewhat, you can cheat the system.”

Instead of regularly training with the Patriots staff, Brady works with his fitness guru, Alex Guerrero. If he were to suffer a concussion, it’s conceivable he would tell Guerrero, and possibly keep the team out of the loop. It’s a way for him to skate around the league’s stringent guidelines, and be on the field when he shouldn’t. Like most football players, Brady doesn’t want to sit on the bench.

There are other reasons Brady may turn to Guerrero, including the disconcerting notion that his questionable methods are more effective than traditional treatment. In a 2015 interview with WEEI, Brady mentioned how they’ve treated concussions at the TB12 Center with “incredible success.” Brady also endorsed NeuroSafe, a phony concussion prevention drink that the Federal Trade Commission told Guerrero to stop producing.

On the surface, Bundchen’s comments appear to be inflammatory. But after examining the culture of the league, and Brady’s personal ties to Guerrero, her statement isn’t inconceivable. In fact, it’s quite believable.

There may be more awareness around head trauma than ever before, but if players think they can play through concussions, many of them are seemingly going to try and find a way.

Read More: Gisele Bundchen, New England Patriots, Tom Brady,



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