By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Look, the Philadelphia Eagles are not very good. They went 9-8, they went 0-6 vs. teams that made the playoffs, they have a weak passing game, an even worse defense, and they realistically have no shot of winning on Sunday in Tampa Bay. Even Philly fans would agree with most -- if not all -- of that.
But the Eagles do have something that possibly no playoff team has ever had before: A distracted Tom Brady.
That is, a Tom Brady whose attention is not 100 percent focused on this week's opponent, because he's been busy promoting the launch of his new clothing brand.
While yes, Brady and the Bucs can probably eke out a win even if they put forth a C+ game on Sunday, it's nevertheless hard to ignore the fact that Brady and his inner circle of business advisors chose this week to launch his new clothing brand. They've made similar decisions before, such as when they released a limited edition "Return to Foxboro" shirt before his first game as a visitor in Gillette Stadium earlier this season. He also wore a sweatshirt from his yet-to-be-launched clothing brand that night, though he awkwardly tried to cover up the word "BRADY" with his jacket every chance he got.
What was that all about?
Nevertheless, a full launch of a brand, in the days leading up to a win-or-go-home playoff game? That feels like an odd decision from a player who was trained under the motivational ways of Bill Belichick. The Patriots head coach once read the step-by-step plans for the Eagles' Super Bowl victory parade in a meeting before Super Bowl XXXIX, helping to get his players a little extra geared up for that game.
The launching of a clothing brand -- which sells some very expensive clothing emblazoned with the word "BRADY" -- might not be quite as offensive to the Eagles as that Super Bowl parade route was to the 2004 Patriots, but still ... Brady's clearly had his attention on something other than football this week. And that's not a decision he has ever made before.
For a quick glimpse into the headspace of Brady, just look at all of the Instagram stories he posted in 24 hours:
Look at all those stories. That's a lot of posts, folks. Short of LeBron James posting about himself on his own birthday, you don't see an athlete of that caliber go berserk on the "Share To My Story" button like that at any time, let alone in the days leading up to a playoff game. As soon as any media outlet or famous person posts about his new product line, Brady (or someone in his camp with access to his IG) is smashing that share button.
Will it matter? Again, no, probably not. Because the Eagles stink. But if the Niners had lost last weekend, thus leaving the Bucs to face a more threatening opponent, this product launch was still going to happen this year.
Suffice it to say, Brady is exercising his still-newfound freedom down in Tampa. Going full Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce to promote a personal product line while the rest of the team is studying and working to prepare for a must-win playoff game just wouldn't fly in Foxboro. (There was, however, a time that his brand launched a TB12 wellness app that cost $20/month ... the morning after a Monday night loss by the Patriots in 2017. That was weird. )
Yet after emerging through the haze of the Antonio Brown fiasco from the past few weeks, one would think that Brady would want to be locked in and wholly focused on the task at hand this weekend. Selling $350 rain coats, generic looking $90 sweatshirts, $65 ballcaps, and $250 vests and ... wait a second, $250 vests?!
Can we get Ted Wells to investigate these prices?! Am I right?!
In any event, it's a noteworthy choice for Brady to go into marketing mode in the tight window between the Bucs' Week 18 win and their playoff game. He'll probably end up doing just fine. He's played in these games before.
But if he doesn't, and the Bucs somehow flop spectacularly on Sunday? It's going to be tough to move those vests come Monday morning.
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