THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING
Dan Shaughnessy

Nothing hairy, says Brady; others can shag passes

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By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / October 14, 2010

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FOXBOROUGH — The door to the Patriots locker room swung open at 11:15 a.m. The media herd shuffled through the doorway and slouched to the stall of Tom Brady. This was QB 12’s first group session since the Randy Moss shocker, and everybody with a microphone wanted a spot at the foot of Brady Gaga.

In the wake of Charley Casserly’s wild report on CBS last Sunday, I was expecting to see Brady rolling on the clubhouse carpet, wrestling with Jerod Mayo and tugging at the linebacker’s whiskers. I figured there might be a photo of Floyd the Barber on Brady’s locker — more evidence of teammates chiding him for his long hair. Just as Randy Moss supposedly did.

There was none of that. At the assigned time, Brady appeared at his locker (wearing a Michigan State jersey, after losing a Wolverine-Spartan bet with Brian Hoyer), shoehorned his way through the camera throng, and took questions.

Asked about Moss, Brady said, “We get along great and we always have since the day he got here. He’s never made fun of my hair. Everyone always wants to make fun of my hair, but he never has.’’

It was believable. Casserly is an enemy of Bill Belichick and has been correct with some past reports that reflected poorly on New England, but this time it’s just too much of a reach. Brady and Moss presented themselves as BFFs during Moss’s entire three-plus years in New England. It’s hard to believe they had a Mike Greenwell-Mo Vaughn moment that expedited Moss’s abrupt send-off.

Asked about the fashionable, post-trade Moss bashing, Brady said, “I didn’t follow any of it. I wouldn’t bash him. I don’t think any of our teammates would bash him. Were you guys bashing him?’’

Not me. In his years here, Moss was better than advertised. He caught 50 touchdown passes. He made the Patriots better. Unfortunately, something happened and now he is gone and Brady’s job just got harder.

What went wrong?

“I’ve moved on,’’ said Brady. “We all have. I really don’t want to talk about it anymore.’’

Outside of his contractually obligated gigs, Brady hasn’t talked about it at all — and now he really doesn’t want to talk about it anymore. But who can blame him? There is no upside to dissecting what led to the Moss trade. There is no benefit in crying about what happens next. This is the time to do your job.

It is what it is.

Got that?

We know Brady was involved in Moss coming here. He must have been consulted before Moss was dealt. But the Patriots aren’t going to own that. Brady is just another player.

Got that?

My favorite part of the Moss fallout is the seismic shift in fan reaction. In the hours after the deal, fans complained and rightfully wondered why Belichick would jettison this weapon. Then the All-Access/All-Suckup machine mobilized and now, on further review, Moss had to go because . . . they really are better without him.

Not having a home run threat will make the offense better. This will give the genius more opportunity to flex his muscles. Bring on the dink and dunk. In a season in which the conference championship appears to be very much up for grabs, shedding talent emancipates the roster and enables a smart organization to demonstrate its superior scheming once again.

If you really think about it, the St. Louis Cardinals would be better off without Albert Pujols because it will allow the scrub talent to emerge.

Brady is the consummate gamer and the ultimate company man. He is not going to complain about losing Moss. But either he was faking when he hung with Moss and appreciated Moss or he’s faking now.

Brady naturally is happy to have Deion Branch back, and he will do what he always does: He will look for the man that’s open.

“I don’t think I’m out there hamstrung by the guys that are out on the field,’’ he said. “I haven’t thought that in a long time.’’ (Hello, Reche Caldwell and 2006.)

“The thing that’s great is that the guys that are out there can do some different things.’’

He ticked off the names.

“Wes [Welker] can do quite a few things with route running. So can Deion. So can Brandon [Tate]. So can Aaron [Hernandez]. So can [Rob] Gronkowski. So can Julian [Edelman]. In certain offenses, it’s like ‘OK, this guy does this, this guy does this.’ And I hear Coach Belichick say those things when he’s trying to coach our defense. That’s not the kind of offense we want to be.’’

Great. But I’m betting Ray Lewis and the Baltimore Ravens are pretty glad they don’t have to game-plan against a Patriot team with Randy Moss.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at dshaughnessy@globe.com.

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