Tom Brady’s thumb injury in 2018 is one of the more recent mysteries to occur in the New England saga. First reports stated Brady cut his right thumb open on a handoff to Rex Burkhead in practice and received four stitches. The public did not receive much more information on the incident. The team stayed silent to the media when asked during their availability leading up to the AFC Championship game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Brady wore a black glove in his mid-week press conference. Reports indicated there was concern that Brady would not be able to play, but the New England faithful all assumed he would not let a “cut” on his thumb keep him out of an AFC Championship. We had absolutely no idea how challenging that would really be. Jeff Benedict details the true story in Chapter 42, “Threading the Needle,” of his upcoming book “The Dynasty”.
Brady hyperextended his thumb so far back that the force cut the thumb open at the base. The team instantly contacted Dr. Matthew Leibman, the hand and wrist surgeon for the Patriots, Red Sox, and Bruins. Leibman sped to the stadium to evaluate the laceration in person. By some miracle, Brady did not break or fracture the bone, or suffer any ligament damage. The article notes there is a 1% the skin ruptures in a hyperextension without any further damage. Leibman used 25 stitches to close the wound. He included an additional 25 sutures for maximum support. Brady was given a splint and specifically told not to take it off. Naturally, he did test his grip on the ball. Leibman categorized Brady as a game-time decision. Josh McDaniels told Brian Hoyer “You better get f—kin’ ready”, but Brady already made up his mind. He was playing on Sunday
Before the ACF Championship, Brady asked Leibman to trim the sutures. “I don’t want them touching the ball.” Leibman pushed back in fear of the stitching unwinding during the game. Brady didn’t give him a choice. Leibman trimmed a millimeter off the 20 sutures two minutes before the game. Everyone was already out on the field. Brady would go for 26/38 C/Att for 290 yards and 2 touchdowns as he advanced to his eighth Super Bowl. Leibman was stunned that Brady pulled it off. “I still don’t understand how he played. It doesn’t make any sense to me. He played with a surgical incision on his throwing thumb.” Brady was sure to thank Leibman for giving him the chance to play. Brady told him he thought his career was over.
When asked about the ‘resourcefulness” of Brady suffering the injury mid-week and still playing in the game, Belichick answered with the following. “I mean, look, Tom did a great job and he’s a tough guy. We all know that. All right? But we’re not talking about open-heart surgery here.” Belichick had just finished raving about Danny Amendola for the game he had. Seth Wickersham’s article about the power struggle taking place between Brady, Belichick, and Kraft had dropped 16 days prior to the game.
The excerpt provides more ammo for those who have backed Brady after his departure. Brady was willing to do anything to be on the field. He did not receive the appreciation he felt he deserved for these efforts, and that’s why the greatest quarterback of all time is no longer playing in a Patriots’ uniform. Hopefully, the book includes similar stories unknown to the public. We certainly aren’t owed anything, but fans are desperate to hear how events truly played out behind the scenes in their biggest moments now that the pair have separated. The perfect storm of Bill Belichick’s media philosophies and an aggressive Boston media market created storylines that weren’t always 100% accurate, and if they were, they were just the tip of the iceberg.