Friday's NFL: Buccaneers' Tom Brady played entire Super Bowl season with partial MCL tear

By Rick Stroud
Tampa Bay Times

Tampa, Fla. — Tom Brady led the Buccaneers to a Super Bowl 55 victory at age 43 during a pandemic, becoming the first quarterback to win a title in his team’s home stadium.

But the legend only grows from there.

Brady did it while playing with a partially torn medial collateral ligament in his left knee that he sustained in his final season with the Patriots.

Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady

The injury gradually worsened during his first year with the Bucs and he finally had surgery to repair the MCL in late February after winning his seventh Super Bowl ring.

Brady has declined to give specifics about his knee surgery, only confirming that it was “pretty serious.”

The Super Bowl MVP had acknowledged that the injury occurred prior to taking his first snap with the Bucs in training camp. Now we know it was a lot more than an arthroscopic procedure. Brady tore his anterior cruciate ligament in the same knee during Week 1 of the 2008 season.

The MCL is a band of tissue that runs along the inner edge of the knee. It helps to connect the shin and thigh bones to keep the knee stable and working properly during movement.

The risk of playing with a partially torn MCL is that the knee can become hyperextended easily and bend in the wrong direction.

“It was an injury I dealt with really since last, you know, April, May,” Brady said following the Bucs’ mandatory minicamp in June. “I knew I would have to do something at the end of the year and happy I did it and it was probably something that certainly needed to be done and there was a great outcome so I’m very happy about that. I feel like there’s some things I’ll be able to do this year that I wasn’t able to do last year.”

Brady missed about one practice each week the final few months of the 2020 season, presumably to give his ailing knee some rest.

He was good enough to pass for 4,633 yards with 40 touchdowns and 12 interceptions while leading the Bucs to an 11-5 record during the regular season. He added another 1,061 yards passing with 10 touchdowns and three interceptions in four preseason games, including the Super Bowl at Raymond James Stadium.

Brady has spent the offseason rehabbing the knee and this week is working out in altitude near his summer home in Yellowstone, Mont.

Imagine how much better Brady can be with a fully repaired left knee, which he uses to step into his passes.

Extra points

Two NFL teams remain under 50% vaccinated less than two weeks from the start of training camp, a person familiar with the vaccination rates told The Associated Press.

As of Friday, Washington and Indianapolis had the two lowest COVID-19 vaccination rates among the 32 teams in the league, according to the person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the league hasn’t released the numbers, which are changing daily.

Pittsburgh, Miami, Carolina and Denver have the highest vaccination rates and are among 10 teams that have achieved at least 85%. About 73% of players have been vaccinated. Teams on the lower end of the vaccination table face potential competitive disadvantages.

… Saints starting defensive tackle David Onyemata has been given a six-game suspension after being notified by the NFL he tested positive for a banned substance.

In a statement from the NFL, the league said Onyemata had been suspended without pay for the first six games of the 2021 regular season for violating the NFL Policy on Performance-Enhancing Substances. He will be able to participate in all preseason practices and games.

Onyemata said on social media that he suspected the test result stemmed from his use of a supplement that he mistakenly believed was permissible under league rules.

… Playing home games without spectators because of the pandemic caused the Packers’ operating revenues to drop nearly 27% during the most recent fiscal year.

The Packers reported $409.8 million in expenses and $371.1 million in revenues. That’s the first time since 2000 the team spent more money than it brought in.

The team had a record $506.9 million in revenues a year earlier.