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Jeff Jacobs: Believe it or not, Tom Brady is human after all

January 28, 2018

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — As he stands at the podium, smiling, deftly avoiding all difficult questions, the inclination is to believe Tom Brady could be an animatronic figure from Disney World’s Hall of Presidents.

As he leads the Patriots to comeback after fourth-quarter comeback, 54 during his incomparable NFL career, the inclination is to believe Brady is not human. Really, what kind of alien mind control does he have to get NFL officials to make every call in the Patriots’ favor? How does he calmly, coolly lead New England back from a 28-3 hole against the Falcons to win Super Bowl LI? Good grief, what did he do to get Seattle’s Russell Wilson to force that stupid pass and blow Super Bowl XLIX?

He can’t be human. Can’t be.

No, seriously, if you cut Tom Brady, he will bleed.

Just ask Rex Burkhead. Brady collided with his running back on a handoff during a Jan. 17 practice, four days before the Patriots and Brady would rally again the Jacksonville Jaguars and Brady advanced to his eighth Super Bowl. The skin between his right thumb and forefinger split and before he got a dozen stitches to close the cut, he bled plenty.

We just need to be reminded from time to time. From a little revenge for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to a lot of love for his mom, Galynn, we’ve gotten those reminders the past few days. He’s human.

Yet as he walked into a six-minute news conference Saturday, his right hand strategically tucked into the front pouch of his hoodie, Brady was smiling and fully prepared to say as little as possible from under his knit cap. He’s good to play in the Super Bowl, good enough to go without a glove at practice. He wasn’t asked about his injury, not that he would have said peep anyway.

The more pressing question, of course, is Rob Gronkowski’s availability for the Super Bowl, after the concussion he suffered in the AFC Championship. Gronk was on the field during the portion of practice open to the media Saturday, which is encouraging news. He has yet to clear concussion protocol.

“It’s always great to have him out there,” Brady said. “He’s a great player, a great person, a great teammate. It obviously hurts when he’s not out there for a lot of reasons. But he’s doing the best he can do. We’re all hopeful. He has a great personality. He definitely has a joyfulness to him.”

Brady talked about how the Eagles’ defensive line is better than any they’ve faced all year. He called Fletcher Cox incredible. He said he doesn’t think about the dog masks Eagles fans wear. When asked about teammates and opponents who were kids when he played his first Super Bowl, Brady, 40, smiled and said, “I feel like one of them. It’s exciting for me, too.”

Amid his perfect life, with his perfect wife, with his perfect looks, with a body guru out of a sci-fi movie, with the Patriots winning year after year, yes, he does seem mind-numbingly superhuman. Especially to those who hate on the Patriots, which, to be honest, is roughly 44 states and western sections of Connecticut.

So with the Super Bowl in Minneapolis, maybe we need to hear the story of his mom, Galynn, growing up 135 miles away in tiny Browerville, Minn. It’s good to hear about how young Tom would stay with his grandparents Gordon and Bernice Johnson at their farmhouse a couple of miles north of the town with no stoplights.

“We’d go fishing in the summer, ice fishing in the winter, and milk the cows with my grandpa and just kind of tend to the farm,” Brady told WEEI the other day. “It was a great experience for me, born in California.”

OK, it’s not as sexy as Brady dancing at Carnival in Rio or Brady cliff-diving in Costa Rica, but there’s a story how his grandpa Gordon had a dog named Tippy. Well, Tippy took a bite out of young Tommy once. Eagles fans undoubtedly wish Tippy was still around today.

Brady was last in Browerville in August 2016 for Gordon’s funeral, and many of the folks there are as much Patriots fans as they are Vikings fans. It’s pretty cool that a small town of 800 much closer to Canada than to California or Massachusetts would pull so hard for the guy. It’s cool his cousin “Pickle” told the Minneapolis Star Tribune, “Great guy, from the greatest family that you could ever get to know … humble, loyal, kind. But as a cow milker, all Tommy did was get in the way.”

Oh, no, did Tom fib about the cow milking? See. He did deflate those footballs. Knew it.

That’s why, even if part of it is essentially an infomercial for his fitness regimen, his Facebook Watch documentary, “Tom vs. Time,” is worth the watch. More than giving a glimpse into his terrific house, Brady gives a glimpse into himself. While one of the top storylines heading into the Super Bowl seems to be “Is Brady greater than Michael Jordan?” here was Brady in Episode 1 pulling out the suspension letter he got from the NFL for Deflategate.

“A nice way to remember,” Brady said. “Thank you.”

Take that, Roger Goodell.

Asked Saturday about the decision to make the documentary, Brady retreated to RoboTom: “We’ll stick to football this week. I like the no-distractions part. Thank you.”

No, Brady will not blink before this Super Bowl. He doesn’t figure to tear up talking about his dad the way he did last year when a Panini Super Bowl Kid Reporter winner asked who his hero is.

So we will take the glimpses into Brady’s life where he allows. That’s why it is good to hear the story of Galynn Johnson, the 1961 Browerville homecoming queen who grew up to be Brady’s mom. And even better to appreciate how she has fought cancer so valiantly. Her breast cancer was diagnosed in 2016. Lumpectomies and months of chemo followed. She lost her hair. Galynn was able to attend only one game last season, the Super Bowl, yet even that was uncertain because of pneumonia and shingles. The comeback was one for the ages and, oh yeah, the Patriots’ comeback was petty good, too.

Browerville, Galynn — who reportedly has been cancer-free; yes, they are a great Super Bowl story. One Tom Brady likely will tell in bits and pieces during Super Bowl week. In the meantime, he’ll say almost nothing and let everybody else debate whether he’s greater than Michael Jordan.

@jeffjacobs123