BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — Tom Brady told a funny story this past week about being bitten by a dog.
It was a few years ago. The Patriots were hosting members of the military at Gillette Stadium and the troops brought their K-9s with them.
“I raised my arms up over my head, and right when I raised my arms up, the dog jumped up,” Brady recalled. “I guess [the dog] was going for my neck and the guy grabbed the dog back down and the dog got my thigh on the way down.”
“I was standing there with a bunch of tough guys,” Brady went on. “And they all saw it. And they’re like, ‘Are you OK?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, of course I’m OK.’ But I could feel the cut. Obviously, I couldn’t say anything like ‘Oh, man, that hurt,’ because I’m with the toughest guys in the world. So I just sucked it up for like an hour after we said hi to all the guys and so forth.”
There was another time he spoke about, too, when he was much younger and visiting his grandfather’s farm here in Minnesota. Brady bent over to give the pet a smooch and the dog bit through his lip.
“So that was pretty rough,” he said.
What does this have to do with Super Bowl LII?
Nothing. But if you realize that Brady, nicknamed “The Greatest Of All Time,” or G.O.A.T., will be facing an Eagles team that has spent most of the past month howling and baying and dressing up in German shepherd masks, maybe everything.
Dog bites man is not news. Underdog bites The Man, and it shocks the world.
On the surface, this game would seem to be a lopsided contest. The Dynasty against the Doubted. Brady and Bill Belichick are making their eighth Super Bowl appearance together, the most for any quarterback and head coach duo in history. Belichick already has five Super Bowl titles, the most in the history of the game. With a sixth on Sunday, he would pass Vince Lombardi and tie George Halas and Curly Lambeau for the most NFL championships in the league’s 97-year existence.
The Eagles haven’t won a thing since 1960. Their coach, Doug Pederson, walks around in jeans and a golf shirt pining for ice cream. Their starting quarterback in the game, Nick Foles, contemplated retirement just two years ago and spent most of the season on the bench behind an MVP candidate.
But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that these teams are matched more evenly than they appear. Both have won 15 of 18 games to this point. Both were the top seeds in their conference. And not since Super Bowl XIII played 39 years ago have two squads met for the championship when both were ranked in the top five in the league in both points scored and points allowed.
Whether Brady was thinking about Chris Long and Lane Johnson and all of those Eagles fans wearing dog masks when he recalled his ill-fated interactions with actual pups is unclear. Probably not, given that he had a broad smile on his face while regaling the crowd.
Those wounds healed.
But Brady also has been bitten twice by a ’dog. His Patriots suffered two Super Bowl losses to the Giants when they were the favorite and few gave their opponent a chance to win.
Those wounds undoubtedly linger. And that’s just the kind of attack he’s looking to avoid on Sunday.