Tom Brady surged the internet needle to the right last week by posting a video of him working out with suspended receiver Josh Gordon.
The clip looked pedestrian at first, with the New England Patriots quarterback throwing a football to someone whose back was turned to the camera. But a closer look revealed the logo on the other person’s baseball cap: an “F” representing Gordon’s nickname, “Flash.”
Brady working out with Gordon indicated that the quarterback and team are doing all they can to keep the receiver sharp with training camp one month away. More importantly, Brady is making sure Gordon feels like he’s part of the Patriots squad despite NFL rules prohibiting him from using team facilities and participating in team functions.
For instance, Gordon wasn’t allowed to join his teammates when Patriots owner Robert Kraft presented players, coaches, executives, and staffers with their Super Bowl LIII championship rings. Gordon was in Foxborough and likely received his ring, but couldn’t attend the ceremony because of his suspension.
The workout with Brady seemed to imply that the Patriots believed the NFL would soon end Gordon’s indefinite suspension. But The Athletic’s Jeff Howe followed up with a report that the league had no update on Gordon’s status and no timeline was in place for the receiver’s return.
In the meantime, Brady is doing more to keep Gordon included with the Patriots than working out with him privately. ESPN’s Jeff Darlington (via WEEI’s Ryan Hannable) reported on NFL Live that the current relationship between quarterback and receiver goes beyond the field.
“[Brady] recognized that Josh Gordon made the team better and recognized that he was going to need some attention,” Darlington told the NFL Live panel. “Josh Gordon was going out to dinner with Tom Brady and Gisele [Bundchen] at times because Tom recognized that he needs to bring this guy in, foster him, make him feel like he is at home, recognizing some of the issues that Josh Gordon goes through.”
That’s more than Brady making sure his receiver feels comfortable. It’s even more than being a good teammate. This is showing compassion on a human level and helping Gordon to better himself and stay on the right path. Maybe Gordon had that kind of support during his six-plus years with the Cleveland Browns, but did it come from a veteran leader with the authority that Brady holds with the Patriots?
Yes, Gordon adds a missing deep threat to the Patriots’ offense. He averaged 18 yards per catch in 11 games with New England last season, catching 40 passes for 720 yards. The Patriots appear to have a solid group of receivers going into training camp, but Gordon elevates the talent level considerably.
If anyone else on the team has any questions regarding whether or not Gordon still fits in, Brady’s gesture answers those concerns. So does the Patriots’ commitment to Gordon in terms of signing him to a $2.025 million restricted free agent tender. He’s a part of the team, regardless of whether the NFL allows that to be official or not.