Commentary by Jacqueline Bennett


New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady took some 20 hits – yes, it was painful to watch – twenty hits in the AFC championship game loss Sunday against the Denver Broncos, as has been noted in multiple stories. It is said to be a record. I think a couple University of Connecticut players from back in the day when I attended – even at this point in time – could have done a better job protecting Brady. News came yesterday that after what has been described as an “epic failure” by the offensive line, Patriots offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo had been fired.


*(Neither here nor there but since I mentioned my alma mater – after my time as a UConn student, DeGuglielmo spent the 1997-98 seasons as offensive line coach at UConn, according to his lengthy biography.)


This past weekend was nothing new. Among our fan crowd, when contemplating how the Patriots will fare, over the last couple of years the predictions have been qualified with, “well, if they protect Brady ….”. All season long Brady has been taking hits. Each time he picked himself up and kept going. He came out razor sharp from the onset of the season clearly with a point to prove. Point made – stick that in your deflated caps. And he kept throwing what some commentators called surgically executed passes despite the inadequacy of protection from his offensive line.


Excuses had been made for months for the Pats injury plagued offensive line as various combinations were tried unsuccessfully. Finally roundly criticized a few weeks ago, in interviews members of the Pats offensive line seemed offended. Boohoo.


Meanwhile, Tom Brady is taking hits and taking hits and taking hits. I don’t want to hear any hogwash about ‘that’s part of the game’ especially given the salary he’s earning. Other quarterbacks are earning plenty and get protection on the field.


Famously quoted, Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick’s mantra is said to be “do your job”. The offensive line failed miserably to do its job at the expense of Brady, and at the expense of a game that could have brought the Pats into the historic 50th Super Bowl where they belonged.


Thanks Rob Gronkowski for, like Brady, also playing with grit and heart.


A fond hope of mine is that Brady will finish his career with the Pats, and at whatever point he decides to retire will continue his affiliation with the team. When we can no longer see him competing on the gridiron, I’ll be looking for Brady in the Patriots owner’s box.


By the way …. Brady kept playing Sunday with a cut on his arm that likely would have sent most ordinary men to the emergency room. What seems to get under his detractors’ craw is that everybody knows Brady is not ordinary – he is extraordinary.


New England Patriots – protect Tom Brady.