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DRY WEATHER will prevail across the region through at least the weekend. Afternoons will be mostly mild and sunny, and mornings will be chilly. Gusty winds will also be possible along the coast and area ridgetops through Saturday. (NWS)
39 NEW COVID CASES reported in Mendocino County on Thursday bringing the total to 3513.
UPDATE: NO COVID 19 TESTING at the Fairgrounds Today
I just got a call from the Mendocino Dept of Health the Human Services and there was some miscommunication about the testing at the fairgrounds - and it wasn't approved by the State for funding and so there is NOT going to be COVID Testing at the fairgrounds in Boonville today - sorry for the confusion!
All the Best,
FREE COVID TESTING IN BOONVILLE FRIDAY Free COVID Testing Tomorrow - Friday Feb 5th from 2 to 6 pm at the Fairgrounds in Boonville - No appointment necessary, but you are requested to register with OptumServe in advance (or when you get there on your smartphone) and have your PatientId handy.
WHEN WILL LIFE RETURN TO NORMAL? In seven years at today’s vaccination rates
COVID TESTING FRIDAY CANCELLED
Unfortunately, the COVID testing planned for Friday in Point Arena has been CANCELLED. No reason has been given. We are working with the provider to reschedule. Please pass this on to anyone you know.
Paul Andersen, Deputy City Manager, City of Point Arena
707-882-2122 | https://pointarena.ca.gov/
TOM ALLMAN WRITES:
Well, it obviously isn’t a secret (anymore) that I had a serious heart attack recently. A local paper published the news earlier this week and I was overwhelmed with the love and support from hundreds of people. I thank you.
On January 4th, while assisting at a fatal traffic accident in Humboldt County, a paramedic made “a suggestion” that I get into the ambulance and allow her to evaluate me with what was the onset of a cardiac event. Let there be no mistake, this paramedic saved my life. As I was in back of the ambulance, the “big one” happened and she was completely prepared to use her skills.
I was not a good patient, mainly because of the extreme pain. I’m anxious to see her again and apologize for my inability to follow her requests, but her professionalism saw past my obnoxiousness and she did her job. I’m very appreciative. I learned a life lesson
Within 90 minutes of the attack, a cardiologist had performed the necessary surgery and I was treated well at St. Joseph’s hospital in Eureka. The nurses and doctors were very good and once again, I’m very appreciative for the great care. Upon returning to Mendo, I spent a few more days at Howard Hospital and truly believe it’s among the best hospitals in California. Don’t believe me? Go ask for a tour. Incredible.
After a four week recovery, the doctor(s) allowed me to return to work and I have worked the past week in Shelter Cove. It’s probably the best assignment in the world.
There were no signs leading up to this incident, nor have I ever experienced anything like this. It was unexpected and I feel very grateful for the extension of loving life.
To the hundreds of friends and family members who have reached out, I truly thank you. The offers to help, the outpouring of care and the wisdom which has been sent have all been appreciated.
ED NOTE: The “local paper” seems to have been the ava.
BOONVILLE HOTEL & RESTAURANT
We are firing up our wood oven for first time since last summer!
Tonight Perry is cooking up Wood Fired Pizzas! Sunchokes, prosciutto, Green garlic, Pennyroyal cheese, and Rosemary. Served with creamy potato soup and something sweet for $32 a person/pizza. Pick up from 4:30 to 6. Order online @ www.boonvillehotel.com. Take good care of people!
SATURDAY BBQ AT THE YORKVILLE MARKET
Hello Yorkvillites and friends of Yorkville,
This Saturday, Amy and I will be BBQing bratwurst with sauerkraut which will be served on a roll with a side green salad. We will be serving this to go from 12ish until 3ish (or until we run out!!). You can also enjoy eating on our socially distanced outside patio. The cost is $15.00 per plate. Our take and bake this week is baked chicken breast with braised greens on a bed of sun-dried tomato polenta smothered in a creamy alfredo sauce. Stay tuned for more information on our Valentine's Day take-out dinner next Sunday 2/14. Enjoy the sunshine after all the lovely rain and snow.
See you soon,
MENDO COAST DOG SHOOTER CITED FOR NEW LAW VIOLATION.
Feb. 4 - District Attorney David Eyster said Thursday that law enforcement officers conducted a morning search of the Caspar residence of probationer Katie Rhiannon Smith, age 35.
The search discovered that Smith was residing in possession of six chickens, a violation of state law that prohibits people convicted of animal cruelty from possessing animals. A dog Smith claimed to own in December was not located during search of the property.
The chickens were seized pursuant to the warrant and have been placed in protective custody of Mendocino County Animal Control.
California’s law mandates that a defendant convicted of animal cruelty as a misdemeanor shall not, “within five years after her conviction, own, possess, maintain, have custody of, reside with, or care for any animal.” To do so is a public offense punishable by up to a $1,000 fine.
As background to the Thursday search, Smith was originally convicted of felony animal cruelty relating to her neglect and attempted killing of a canine now widely known as Thunder the Wonder Dog.
Ultimately, Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Clayton Brennan reduced the felony conviction to a misdemeanor at the defendant’s December sentencing hearing and placed Smith on informal court probation.
Using words that now may come back to haunt him, Judge Brennan ordered last December that Smith serve 360 days in the county jail, but he then suspended that time over Smith’s head on the condition that she “obey all laws.”
Subject to the standard charging review by the DA, it is believed that the six animals found today residing at her home constitute a failure by defendant Smith to obey all laws.
Once he receives and completes a review of all the reports from today’s search, the DA will make a charging decision on whether to file one or more new charges against Smith, file a petition seeking violation of Smith’s informal probation, or both.
When asked to comment about today’s enforcement action, DA Eyster said:
“If I conclude that the evidence summarized in those reports supports the filing of a new case, it should be no surprise to anyone that I will have that new case filed in Ukiah versus having it filed in Judge Brennan’s courtroom in Fort Bragg.”
“Further, if I conclude that the animals found today constitute a failure by the defendant to obey all laws, specifically a failure by her to obey the statutory prohibition that she cannot be around animals, we will initiate proceedings to violate her probation.
“If and when that happens, the community at large should watch and see if Judge Brennan stays true to his December words that a violation of probation will result in the defendant having to serve the 360-day jail sentence that he suspended, concluded Eyster.
ESTHER MOBELY touches down in Yorkville: My Wine of the Week costs $13,000. Just kidding! It’s $32, and in my opinion it’s a very good value considering how well made and delicious it is. The Halcón Syrah comes from a high, extreme, windy vineyard in Mendocino County’s Yorkville Highlands. I visited the place a couple of years ago and was struck by its sloping hills and rocky soils — no small feat for its owners, Paul and Jackie Gordon, to farm. The site is perfect for Syrah, a grape that thrives on steep aspects. Their 2018 Las Alturas bottling has all of the bacon, black pepper and olive intensity that French Syrah lovers crave.
GENERAL GOVERNMENT STANDING COMMITTEE MEETING AGENDA - FEBRUARY 8TH, 2021
Community Partners, Colleagues, and Interested Parties:
The General Government Committee Meeting Agenda for the Monday, February 8th, 2021, meeting is now available on the County website: https://mendocino.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx
Please contact Clerk of the Board at (707) 463-4441 if you have any questions regarding this message.
Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and Executive Office
FROM RUSS EMAL:
It is my understanding that at one of the last Supervisor meetings, in part, discussed the need of a water treatment plant in Boonville. Although the meeting may have happened already I thought I would write this short story. I thought I’d offer, as I understand it, a bit of history of both the how water is collected for drinking in Boonville as well as how the waste water is handled.
We moved to the valley in the late seventies. At that time a problem arose on the property where all of the train cars now exist. When that property sold it was discovered the quality of water did not pass muster. A water permit was not allowed. The problem was that the small lot in question had a well with the septic leach field directly over the well. If you look, there is now a small kiosk near Hwy 128. It was used to show properties being sold by a local realtor, and it contains the property’s water well. The well was on CalTrans property and the owner got them to allow the placement of the well there so to not be under the properties septic field. I believe this is a common problem in Boonville.
What Boonville really needs is both a quality large supply of water as well as a way to eliminate water waste. I understand in discussion is if a water treatment plant should be placed on the fair grounds. But first as to getting water. It is my understanding that on the ranch that corners Hwy 253 and 128 across from the new brewery, there is a huge spring that produces enough water to keep a 4” pipe filled with water. Perhaps that should be discussed along with where to rid the town of the waste water.
While the county does own the fairgrounds, the land is east of town and higher in elevation than Boonville proper. As the saying goes, “S••t runs downhill.” I am not sure how putting the treatment plant above town can work. Outside of town on the west or downhill side has no land owned by the county but is downhill. Perhaps through eminent domain land west of town might be owned. Maybe with a land swap for county land on the fair grounds to plant grapes for some highway land now planted in grapes could be achieved.
[PROPOSED] RESOLUTION NO. ____-2021
Resolution Of The Fort Bragg City Council Expressing Support For Redwood Quality Management Center And Redwood Community Services To Coordinate Services For Residents Residing At The Plateau, Located At 441 South Street
WHEREAS, the City of Fort Bragg is pleased to partner with the developer, Danco, to bring affordable housing opportunities to our community; and
WHEREAS, over four years, the City processed necessary planning entitlements, provided a $250,000 loan from the City’s housing funds, secured a $3 million grant through Mendocino County Continuum of Care, and partnered to receive nearly $3.1 million from HCD’s In-fill Infrastructure grant program to assist Danco to develop twenty (20) Permanent Supportive Housing units, twenty-three (23) senior cottages, and twenty-five (25) workforce units; collectively referred to as “The Plateau;” and
WHEREAS, construction is underway and attention is now turning toward the future residents that will call The Plateau home; and
WHEREAS, with a diverse community that includes working families, seniors and formerly homeless, this is a unique opportunity to support individuals in the pursuit of well- being, within the context of a diverse neighborhood; and
WHEREAS, Fort Bragg is fortunate to have many qualified community service providers to assist this effort, such as Parents & Friends, Project Sanctuary, Safe Passage, Mendocino Children’s Fund, Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center, and Mendocino Veterans Services to name a few; and
WHEREAS, the success of this project will depend on the coordination of service providers in the area; and
WHEREAS, Redwood Quality Management Services (RQMC) is the Administrative Service Organization for Mendocino County, providing management and oversight of specialty mental health, community service support, prevention and early intervention services to youth, young adults, adults, and seniors throughout our region; and
WHEREAS, a subsidiary of RQMC, Redwood Community Services (RCS) has extensive experience with youth resource centers and program development, along with the ability to connect and develop the community resources, as well as manage the overall programing for the 69 units, including the specialty support services needed for Mental Health clients; and
WHEREAS, this extensive experience makes RQMC a natural fit for this position; and
WHEREAS, RQMC maintains a strong working relationship with Adventist Health, which is located in close proximity to the project and would be a valuable asset for The Plateau; and
WHEREAS, the Homeless Ad-Hoc Committee requested support from the entire Council to recommend RQMC and RSC to Danco for the service coordinator position, as stated in a letter from the Mayor of Fort Bragg attached hereto as Exhibit A;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Fort Bragg does hereby support RQMC and RSC to coordinate services for residents of The Plateau.
The above and foregoing Resolution was introduced by ____, seconded by ____, and passed and adopted at a regular meeting of the City Council of the City of Fort Bragg held on the 8th day of February, 2021, by the following vote:
Ayes: Noes: Absent: Abstain: Recused:
June Lemos, CMC City Clerk
Bernie Norvell Mayor
Re: Support for Redwood Quality Management Company and Redwood Community Services to Coordinate Residential Services for The Plateau, Located at 441 South Street
The City of Fort Bragg is pleased to partner with the developer, Danco to bring affordable housing opportunities to our community. Danco is the developer that brought us the senior housing project known as the Cottages at Cypress, and immediately following this success, staff helped Danco identify another site in Fort Bragg - 441 South Street.
Over four years, the City processed necessary planning entitlements, provided a $250,000 loan from the City’s housing funds, secured a $3 million grant through Mendocino County Continuum of Care, and partnered to receive nearly $3.1 million from HCD’s In-fill Infrastructure grant program to develop twenty (20) Permanent Supportive Housing units, twenty-three (23) senior cottages, and twenty-five (25) workforce units; collectively referred to as “The Plateau.” Construction is underway and attention is now turning toward the future residents that will call it home.
With a diverse community that includes working families, seniors and formerly homeless, this is a unique opportunity to support individuals in the pursuit of well-being, within the context of a diverse neighborhood. Fort Bragg is fortunate to have many qualified community service providers to assist this effort, such as Parents & Friends, Project Sanctuary, Safe Passage, Mendocino Children’s Fund, Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center, and Mendocino Veterans Services to name a few. The success of our effort will depend on the coordination of these service providers.
It is with this in mind that I reached out to Camille Schraeder, Chief Program Officer of Redwood Quality Management Company (RQMC) to ask for Redwood Community Services (RCS) to take the lead in coordinating services for The Plateau. RQMC is the Administrative Service Organization for Mendocino County, providing management and oversight of specialty mental health, community service support, prevention and early intervention services to youth, young adults, adults, and seniors throughout our region. RCS has extensive experience with youth resource centers and program development. RCS has the ability to connect with and develop the community resources, as well as manage the overall programing for the 69 units, including the specialty support services needed for Mental Health clients.
Their extensive experience, as well as their vast network and resources makes RQMC a natural fit for this position; the strong working relationship with Adventist Health in particular would be a valuable asset.
* * *
Vote of Confidence for RQMC/RCS February 8, 2021
Adventist Health’s Mendocino Coast location is situated directly across from The Plateau and Adventist could help support, train and encourage community members to lead a long and meaningful life by practicing wellness. Preliminary discussions have taken place with RQMC, leadership of Adventist Health and Danco to determine interest and potential strategies to support a wellness community in all dimensions – social, physical, emotional, occupational, intellectual, etc.
Although Danco initially reached out to Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center to act as the coordinator of services, I, Mayor Bernie Norvell, on behalf of the Homeless Ad Hoc Committee and the Fort Bragg City Council, recommend RQMC for this position. Mendocino Coast Hospitality Center can continue to play an active role supporting clients residing in the Permanent Supportive Housing units; however, RQMC is better qualified to serve the project as a whole, which will include residents of all ages and diverse experiences.
Thank you for your consideration of this matter. Sincerely,
Bernie Norvell Mayor
CATCH OF THE DAY, February 4, 2021
KELISHA ALVAREZ, Ukiah. Camping in Ukiah, paraphernalia, parole violation. (Frequent flyer.)
MYQ ATTANASIO, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
ARNOLD GAHM, Ukiah. Mandatory supervision sentencing.
THOMAS HANOVER, Ukiah. Stolen property, failure to appear, probation revocation.
DEVIN KESTER-TYLER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ELLE MARTEENY, Crescent City/Ukiah. Probation revocation.
ANTHONY MONDO, Willits. DUI.
MAX PHELPS, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ERIC SEALE, Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, suspended license, failure to appear, probation revocation.
As one of the “enemies of the people” (i.e., member of the “press”) dealing with the irrationality of assertions conflating sensational buzzwords with undesirable behavioral attributes (like “fact checking”), this is the kind of construction that confounds me. Posted by a very rightwing self-righteous —publican friend (we graciously agree to disagree and refrain from disparagement, as is generally accepted etiquette) whose adherence to superficial standards of cultural interpretation (symbology over all else) is manifest by unquestioning endorsement of law enforcement over rights of the rabble (that would be me). Tra la.
California: Dead last
California ranks 50th among the states in percentage of delivered COVID-19 vaccines that have been injected. Dead last. West Virginia ranks first. Growing up in California, West Virginia was belittled in schoolyard humor. Now hillbillies can snicker at California’s pretensions of superiority.
The late state historian Kevin Starr described in “Golden Dreams” how the California of my youth created a utopian world-class multiversity, constructed an interconnected freeway and road system that was the envy of the world and built the most ambitious water storage and distribution system in history.
Today, California can’t figure out how to inject patients with vaccines during a ghastly pandemic. Millions of doses sit unused in cold storage. In Sonoma County, I’m stymied trying to get my 96-year-old mother vaccinated.
Two thousand years ago, Emperor Nero fiddled while imperial Rome burned. Today, Gov. Gavin Newsom schmoozes with high and mighty lobbyists at the world’s most expensive restaurants and seems more interested in savoring his privileged life than governing. My home state embarrasses me.
Craig S. Harrison
LIT QUIZ: The most sexist poem in the history of modern poetry or merely the secret desire of most men?
I Wish I Knew A Woman
I wish I knew a woman
who was like a red fire on the hearth
glowing after the day's restless draughts.
So that one could draw near her
in the red stillness of the dusk
and really take delight in her
without having to make the polite effort of loving her
or the mental effort of making her acquaintance.
Without having to take a chill, talking to her.
FAUCI: THE DEATH THREATS STARTED EARLY
Anthony Fauci on working in the Trump administration:
When did the death threats start?
Wow. Many, many months ago. In the spring. Hold on — just bear with me. [He consults someone who answers “March 28,” 2020] So there — you got it from the head of my Secret Service detail. That’s when I got protection, so maybe two weeks prior to that.
It was the harassment of my wife, and particularly my children, that upset me more than anything else. They knew where my kids work, where they live. The threats would come directly to my children’s phones, directly to my children’s homes. How the hell did whoever these assholes were get that information?
And there was chatter on the internet, people talking to each other, threatening, saying, “Hey, we got to get rid of this guy. What are we going to do about him? He’s hurting the president’s chances.” You know, that kind of right-wing craziness.
Were you ever shot at or confronted?
No, but one day I got a letter in the mail, I opened it up and a puff of powder came all over my face and my chest.
That was very, very disturbing to me and my wife because it was in my office. So I just looked at it all over me and said, “What do I do?” The security detail was there, and they’re very experienced in that. They said, “Don’t move, stay in the room.” And they got the hazmat people. So they came, they sprayed me down and all that.
Did they test the powder?
Yeah. It was a benign nothing. But it was frightening. My wife and my children were more disturbed than I was. I looked at it somewhat fatalistically. It had to be one of three things: A hoax. Or anthrax, which meant I’d have to go on Cipro for a month. Or if it was ricin, I was dead, so bye-bye.
NAVALNY IN COURT THURSDAY: ‘VLADIMIR THE POISONER’
I would like to begin by discussing the legal issue here, which seems to me to be paramount and a bit overlooked in this discussion. There are two people sitting right there and one of them is saying: let’s lock up Navalny because he showed up [to meet with his parole officers] on Mondays, not Thursdays. And the other says: let’s lock up Navalny because he didn’t show up immediately after coming out of his coma.
But I would like everyone to remember that the essence of this trial is to lock me up over a case in which I was already exonerated — a case that’s already been recognized as fabricated.
If we look at the criminal statutes — your Honor, I hope you’ve already done this once or twice — we’ll see that the European Court of Human Rights is part [of the Russian justice system] and its decisions are binding. The Russian Federation halfway acknowledged this ruling and even paid me compensation here. Despite this, my brother spent 3.5 years in prison because of this same case. I spent an entire year under house arrest for this same case.
Let’s do a little math. The verdict was in 2014, it’s 2021 now, and I’m still being prosecuted for this. Why this case exactly? There’s a reason and it’s not because there’s some shortage of criminal charges against me. Somebody wanted me arrested, the moment I crossed the border [after returning from Germany].
The explanation is one man’s hatred and fear — one man hiding in a bunker. I mortally offended him by surviving. I survived thanks to good people, thanks to pilots and doctors. And then I committed an even more serious offense: I didn’t run and hide.
Then something truly terrifying happened: I participated in the investigation of my own poisoning, and we proved, in fact, that Putin, using Russia’s Federal Security Service, was responsible for this attempted murder. And that’s driving this thieving little man in his bunker out of his mind. He’s simply going insane as a result.
There’s no popularity ratings. No massive support. There’s none of that. Because it turns out that dealing with a political opponent who has no access to television and no political party merely requires trying to kill him with a chemical weapon. So, of course, he’s losing his mind over this.
Because everyone was convinced that he’s just a bureaucrat who was accidentally appointed to his position. He’s never participated in any debates or campaigned in an election. Murder is the only way he knows how to fight. He’ll go down in history as nothing but a poisoner. We all remember Alexander the Liberator [Alexander II] and Yaroslav the Wise [Yaroslav I]. Well, now we’ll have Vladimir the Underpants Poisoner.
I’m standing here, guarded by the police, and the National Guard is out there with half of Moscow cordoned off. All this because that small man in a bunker is losing his mind. He’s losing his mind because we proved and demonstrated that he isn’t buried in geopolitics; he’s busy holding meetings where he decides how to steal politicians’ underpants and smear them with chemical weapons to try to kill them.
The main thing in this whole trial isn’t what happens to me. Locking me up isn’t difficult. What matters most is why this is happening. This is happening to intimidate large numbers of people. They’re imprisoning one person to frighten millions.
We’ve got 20 million people living below the poverty line. We have tens of millions of people living without the slightest prospects for the future. Life is bearable in Moscow, but travel 100 kilometers in any direction and everything’s a mess.
Our whole country is living in this mess, without the slightest prospects, earning 20,000 rubles [$265] a month. And they’re all silent; they try to shut people up with these show trials. Lock up this one to scare millions more. One person takes to the streets and they lock up another five people to scare 15 million more.
I hope very much that people won’t look at this trial as a signal that they should be more afraid. This isn’t a demonstration of strength — it’s a show of weakness. You can’t lock up millions and hundreds of thousands of people. I hope very much that people will realize this. And they will. Because you can’t lock up the whole country.
The only thing growing in [Russia] is the number of billionaires. Everything else is declining. I’m locked up in a prison cell and all I hear about on TV is that butter is getting more expensive. The price of eggs is rising. You’ve deprived these people of a future.
Everything I’m saying now reflects my attitude toward the performance you’ve staged here. This is what happened when lawlessness and tyranny become the essence of a political system, and it’s horrifying.
But it’s even worse when lawlessness and tyranny pose as state prosecutors and dress up in judges’ robes. It’s the duty of every person to defy you and to defy such laws.
I am fighting as best I can and I will continue to do so, despite the fact that I’m now under the control of people who love to smear everything with chemical weapons. My life isn’t worth two cents, but I will do everything I can so that the law prevails.
And I salute and thank the staff at the Anti-Corruption Foundation who have been arrested and all the honest people across the country who aren’t afraid and who take to the streets. Because they have the same rights as you. This country belongs to them just as it does to you and everyone else. We demand proper justice, decent treatment, participation in elections, and participation in the distribution of the national wealth. Yes, we demand all this.
I want to say that there are many good things in Russia now. The very best are the people who aren’t afraid — people who don’t look the other way, who will never hand our country over to a bunch of corrupt officials who want to trade it for palaces, vineyards, and aqua-discos.
I demand my immediate release and the release of all political prisoners. I do not recognize your performance here — it’s a deception and completely illegal.
FIRST A.D. ROMAN BRIDGE (also a forecast of what the Willits Bypass will look like in ten or twenty years)
ON LINE COMMENT OF THE DAY
The public doesn’t realize what’s really happening because as long as they have their cable tv and computer access, and know they will get stimulus checks, they are happy to remain ignorant. This situation is not healthy for our society. The real issues we face ought to be repeatedly stressed in the common public venues, not just on specialized sites like this. Current big business and government actions aren’t going in the right direction. In the relatively near future, however, reality will win out as problems increase in severity. Then the public will get more involved (I hope).
by D.H. Lawrence
I can imagine, in some otherworld
Primeval-dumb, far back
In that most awful stillness, that only gasped and hummed,
Humming-birds raced down the avenues.
. . .
Before anything had a soul,
While life was a heave of Matter, half inanimate,
This little bit chipped off in brilliance
And went whizzing through the slow, vast, succulent stems.
. . .
I believe there were no flowers, then,
In the world where the humming-bird flashed ahead of creation.
I believe he pierced the slow vegetable veins with his long beak.
. . .
Probably he was big
As mosses, and little lizards, they say were once big.
Probably he was a jabbing, terrifying monster.
We look at him through the wrong end of the long telescope of Time,
Luckily for us.
. . .
THE UNBEARABLE EMPTINESS OF TOM BRADY
by Dave Zirin
What Tom Brady has done over two decades is the equivalent of dancing through raindrops without getting wet. He has dominated the most lauded position in American sports—quarterback—to incredible effect. After being drafted 199th in the year 2000 to little notice, he is now set to play in his 10th Super Bowl this Sunday. No other quarterback has ever played in more than five.
We know factoids about him: that he doesn’t eat strawberries, and that he claims his special TB12 dietary and training plan has allowed him to stretch out his productive years like no one who has ever played the game. And yet behind the handsome, well-preserved face, Brady remains a cipher.
There are those who have branded him as a Trump zealot, because of the presence of a MAGA hat in his locker back in 2015. But that doesn’t explain Brady’s going out of his way to never be photographed anywhere near Trump over the past six years. He also didn’t show up to two separate White House Super Bowl celebrations. That meant defying not only Trump but Trump’s pal in putrescence Patriots franchise owner Bob Kraft. It almost sounds principled until you learn that Brady never gave a reason beyond family concerns for missing both events.
He has never said an ill word about Trump, choosing to be “neutral” during an era when Trump used the NFL as his own personal punching bag. Brady did speak out in support of exiled quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but only after a ton of players had done so first. It was an easy lift.
Brady has gone out of his way to offend as few people as possible in this era of polarization, because Brady is all about his brand. He is more brand than man. His brand is what he loves and protects above all else.
There are other all-time great athletes of recent vintage who fall into this category, people whose sense of themselves is tied up more in marketability and winning than in politics or principle. It’s rare air that includes leviathans like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. The difference between Brady and his two compatriots is that Jordan and Tiger are Black. Brady’s whiteness prevents any kind of interrogation—the kind Jordan and Woods have endured throughout their careers—about whether he should be doing more with his platform, something more than just playing football and being Brady.
This absence of interrogation has allowed Brady to slalom from scandal to scandal over the last 20 years without any attendant fear about what his actions could mean to society or “the children.” There have been more “gates” than a wealthy community in Florida. Videogate or Deflategate could have felled lesser talents, and a Black athlete in a similar pickle would unquestionably have been canceled.
There is Brady’s bizarre personal physician, an alternative medicine practitioner named Alex Guerrero, someone whom Brady’s coach in New England, Bill Belichick, threw out of the team facilities for murky unknown reasons. And in what may have been Brady’s most disturbing act, he has advocated that the talented and toxic Antonio Brown play first in New England and now in Tampa Bay. The accusations against Brown of violence against women are so repugnant, it’s altogether probable that without Brady’s imprimatur, there is no way Brown would find his way back into the National Football League. Normally Brady affects the Bogart line of “sticking his neck out for nobody,” yet he has treated Brown like he’s behind enemy lines in Vichy France. Receivers like Brown have the capacity to extend the careers of people like Brady, and that’s the only moral calculus on display.
As David Leonard wrote so prophetically in 2015, “Tom Brady demonstrates the unflinching power of whiteness in contemporary America. Black people are punished and demonized for cheating. White men like Tom Brady get to do all sorts of shit for a competitive edge and they are gaming the system.”
The truth of the matter is that Brady isn’t a crypto-fascist, and he isn’t a saint. He is actually kind of simple. He doesn’t speak out about politics because he doesn’t know anything about politics. He had a Donald Trump hat because Trump was a rich guy on the golf course who was always quick with a scatological joke. It’s his unimaginable privilege that allows him to not have to care that Trump is a racist or an authoritarian. When he found out that others weren’t thrilled, that hat entered the witness protection program and hasn’t been seen since.
He is a part of so many scandals that are about getting an edge on opponents or Father Time because he understands that his brand is inextricably tied to his reputation as the greatest winner in NFL history. He understands with a laser-like intensity that in the 21st century, people don’t necessarily care how you win, only that you emerge victorious. And his whiteness is a “get out of jail free” card in the face of every reporter who has questioned his priorities or morals. Because in the end, Tom Brady isn’t asked to carry the weight of any community beyond the one in his manse. He only needs to be accountable to one person, and that’s “brand Tom Brady.” Good luck telling the difference between brand and man.