A published report that New England Patriots superstar quarterback Tom Brady would sit out pre-season workouts (known as OTAs or organized team activities) unless he received a raise equivalent to what former backup Jimmy Garoppolo just got is apparently a hoax.
Traded by the Patriots to the San Francisco 49ers this past season in another decision by coach Bill Belichick that is still leaving many observers scratching their heads, Garoppolo just signed a massive five-year, $137.5 million contract with the 49ers, said to be the largest such deal in National Football League history. The 49ers won their last five consecutive games in 2017 after Jimmy G took over as the team’s starting QB.
The Boston Herald column written by Ron Borges about Brady’s supposed demand for a Garoppolo-sized contract extension was the result of a prank or perhaps a football journalism version of catfishing. A caller to the Kirk & Callahan show on WEEI radio who goes by “Nick in Boston” says that he impersonated Brady agent Don Yee in a series of text messages and, in so doing, fed bogus information to Borges, who ran with the “scoop,” citing unnamed sources (plural).
NBC Sports’ ProFootballTalk provides the details on the fake news story published by the Boston Herald.
“The report from Ron Borges of the Herald regarding the supposed intent of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady to skip OTAs ‘unless he receives a contract extension that carries with it up-front money similar to what his former protege, Jimmy Garoppolo, will receive from the San Francisco 49ers’ was apparently the result of someone pranking Borges. According to WEEI’s Kirk & Callahan, a show listener known as ‘Nick in Boston’ claims that he texted Borges, pretending to be Garoppolo’s agent, Don Yee.”
— Kirk & Callahan (@KirkAndCallahan) February 9, 2018
According to several Boston news outlets, the Herald has scrubbed the story from its website, although it made a big splash on the back page of the tabloid’s print version. The Herald is also conducting an investigation into the matter.
ProFootballTalk separately asserted that “Nick in Boston indicated that he just wanted to screw around and was surprised at how easy it was to get a hoax story into the newspaper. Nick is probably not as surprised as Borges and his editors are.”
— Daniel Miller (@Daniel_Miller8) February 9, 2018
Parenthetically, the NFL quarterback position seems to be the hardest job to fill in professional sports, and that’s why signal callers get the big bucks. Many highly touted college players don’t pan out at all, while other quarterbacks very much have up-and-down careers where they go from starter to bench-warmer and back again, like Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles, or just hang on as journeymen or seldom-playing backups. Apart from a relative handful of longtime established stars like Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and several other luminaries, other quarterbacks function effectively in some systems, but not others, for various reasons.
As the story behind the story of the apparent hoax “show me the money” column written by Ron Borges about Tom Brady demanding more pay is rapidly developing, please check back for updates.
UPDATE: In a statement, the Boston Herald announced that it has suspended the Ron Borges’ column, which presumably means the newspaper suspended the columnist himself.
“A column by Ron Borges in today’s Herald regarding Patriot Tom Brady’s salary discussions was based on information which proved to be false. The Herald apologizes to Brady, his agent Don Yee and the Patriots, and to our readers for this erroneous report. Borges’ column has been suspended pending further review.”