Harbaugh made news by not engaging in a postgame handshake with Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel following an overtime loss, while Brady demonstrated that very same behavior by walking off the field rather than shaking the hand of Los Angeles quarterback Jared Goff after a narrow defeat on Monday Night Football.
When it comes to Harbaugh, some folks—including my mother, a long-time Harbaugh hater and someone fond of calling the veteran Ravens’ coach something that rhymes with crass—might say he set a poor example for his players (although, I’m certainly not saying that). As for Brady, some people—including a good friend of mine who happens to be a Patriots fan and now refers to Brady as a b*** following his defection to Tampa Bay—might say he didn’t demonstrate G.O.A.T-like behavior by not congratulating Goff (although, I’m certainly not saying that).
I think both my mom and my Patriots friend are wrong. These guys, two legends entrusted with leadership responsibilities on their respective clubs, were simply setting examples in social distancing amid this ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, a pandemic that has placed many games in peril during the 2020 regular season—including Tuesday night’s showdown between the Steelers and Ravens at Heinz Field.
This must have been why Brady also walked off the field without shaking Nick Foles’ hand following a loss to the Bears earlier this season.
Let’s face it, Brady is the savior in Tampa Bay. He’s the reason he has that franchise almost in first place in the NFC South. Brady owes it to his teammates to be virus free all the way through until that inevitable moment when he accepts the Lombardi trophy after winning Super Bowl LIV. You know how Brady loves to show leadership on the sidelines by always screaming at his teammates to “Let’s bleepin go!” What if he has the virus and little droplets come flying out of his mouth and infect the likes of Mike Evans? Furthermore, Antonio Brown is living with Brady at the moment. That’s right, while Ben Roethlisberger wouldn’t even invite AB to his house for a spot of tea, Brady has gone the extra mile for the former Steeler receiver and has opened his home to him fully and completely. What if Brown, a G.O.A.T in his own right, a player who has also demonstrated good leadership skills in the past by alerting his quarterbacks to his openness by throwing Gatorade buckets and Tweeting stuff, catches the COVID? There goes that super team. There goes the Buccaneers’ second Super Bowl title.
As for Harbaugh, it has been said that he’s the kind of head coach who always does more with less; by not shaking Vrabel’s hand, he was essentially saying to his players: “Hey, no partying or socializing. You guys be smart.” It was genius, and his actions were way more effective than Mike Tomlin’s words.
Besides, what happens if Harbaugh contracts the virus and needs a transfusion or something? I would think his brother, Jim Harbaugh (like John, someone who clearly inherited the crass gene), would be a match and a top candidate to donate blood. Can you imagine having to rely on Jim Harbaugh for your physical well-being? I’d be cautious, too, if I were John.
So, there you have it. While you may want to pile on both Harbaugh and Brady for behavior that you perceived to be very unsportsmanlike, I certainly will not be doing that.