National Post (National Edition)
Brady reveals father's illness rocked start of his season
QB's parents battled COVID in California
We so often hear how Tom Brady overcomes adversity, and uses it as motivation.
Football adversity. Ya know, having to fight like hell in college in the late 1990s for every morsel of playing time. Being snubbed until late in the 2000 entry draft. Barely playing as a rookie in New England.
Then having his unmatched early-career successes asterisked for purportedly being an overly gifted beneficiary of great defences and great coaching. And in recent years being constantly doubted as he approached and passed age 40. Even Deflategate.
But early on this past NFL season — his seventh that climaxed with a Super Bowl championship — Tom Brady quietly dealt with the personal anguish of being cross-continent while both his parents fought COVID-19. Real-life adversity, in other words.
Brady's father, for much of September, battled for his life in a California hospital. And it happened so fast. One day he wasn't feeling well, and got tested.
“The next day I couldn't breathe,” Tom Brady Sr., 76, told Andrea Kremer, in a feature that aired on CBS shortly before his son spearheaded the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 31-9 victory Sunday night over the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV.
“We walked into the hospital and that was the last time I saw (wife) Galynn for 18 days.
“I had pneumonia as well as COVID. They were pumping me with oxygen. (Doctors said), `If your lungs don't absorb the oxygen, then we're going to have to put you on the ventilator.' It was a harrowing experience.”
Just as it was for the couple's three daughters, their youngest offspring Tom, and all their grandchildren.
Only in recent days has Brady's parents' plight fully come to light.
During Monday morning's virtual Super Bowl MVP news conference, the 43-year-old shared a bit of what it was like at the time.
“Anything that affects your parents is pretty tough,” Brady told me, “especially (when they're) on the other side of the country and I'm in Florida. A lot of families have been affected by this COVID situation. It hit my dad pretty hard. My mom recovered pretty quickly; my dad had a little rough go. In the end he came through like he always does. He's a fighter.”
Galynn shared to Kremer her frustrations of being told daily her husband was in stable condition, with little other information. “Every day it was just waiting for the doctor to call,” she said. “It was just so unnerving.”
Both parents recovered. Tom Sr. returned home on Sept. 23. He and Galynn were in the stands Sunday night at Raymond James Stadium — along with Brady's sisters and a small army of grandchildren — as the most accomplished NFL player in history added another folded-corner page to his unmatched football resume.
“I was just so happy (Dad) was there last night watching us play,” Brady said, bleary-eyed following a raucous Bucs victory party, rife with champagne and cigars, and after just two hours of sleep. “It was just amazing to have everybody there … I know I couldn't do it without my family. I've always said I had three sisters who were way better athletes than I am.”
Brady's oldest sister Maureen, an all-American softball pitcher at Fresno State University, is now a nurse, “but in her heart she's still an athlete. She gave me a hug after the game and said a few things that, you know, probably aren't appropriate for this call.”
Little did we know back in September that as Brady and the Buccaneers offence struggled to do much of anything right in an opening-week loss at New Orleans, every day he had been frantically calling the California hospital “to try to speak to his dad,” Galynn told Kremer.
As for Brady's rough transition into head coach Bruce Arians' and offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich's system, given that the pandemic scuttled all NFL team workouts and practices in April, May and June — then contracted and limited summer training-camp workouts — it's no wonder the Bucs offence hiccupped so much.
Brady, after 20 years in New England, was still learning the Bucs system.
“It takes time, and this year was so unique in that we had no time,” Arians said. “We're going to New Orleans — and I'm speaking for Tom here — and it was like, `What the hell's that play?' And, `What's that word mean?' And, `What the hell's this guy going to do on that play?'
“It just took time. And it's not easy. And I can't give Tom enough credit for just hanging in there with the coaches, and knowing this is going to work out sooner than later. And it did.
“Just the verbiage itself … after 20 years. And I was in that (Patriots offensive) system. I know that system. Ours is different. I'm just so grateful to him for battling through.”
Brady said during his family's September crisis that Arians “was very supportive of me, and Clyde (Christensen) my quarterbacks coach was very supportive.
“It all ended up well.”
CALGARY• As investors pile into commodities and some banks raise the price targets on everything from base metals to oil and agricultural products, economists are cautioning that the current bull market should not be confused with a 'supercycle'.
“With things as volatile and uncertain as they are right now, saying a blanket `commodities supercycle' is a little premature,” said Rory Johnston, managing director and market economist at Price Street, a quantitative research firm developing analytical tools for the financial industry, in Toronto.
Citigroup's managing director and global head of commodities research Ed Morse said there have been two spectacular surges in commodity prices — in the 1970s and in the 2000s — which led to massive, multi-year increase in commodity prices and especially in the price of oil.
“What was true about those supercycles and is not at all true now is that virtually all commodities reached a cyclical trough at exactly the same time,” Morse said in an interview, adding previous commodity surges were characterized by a lack of investment and a lack of inventory.
This time, Morse said, there may be a lack of investment currently but “the material is abundant” for multiple commodities including the inputs used for making steel and for oil, thanks to the rise of horizontal drilling for oil in North America.
Investors have watched as a broad basket of commodities have risen sharply and the Brent oil price benchmark hit a one-year high Monday, when it traded up 2 per cent to finish the day at US$60.56 per barrel — the first time crude surpassed US$60 per barrel since January 2020.
In addition to crude, multiple base metals have touched multi-year highs in recent weeks including copper, which hit US$3.70 per pound in January, and iron ore, which also traded at a 10-year high of US$170 per tonne in mid January — highs not seen since 2011. Copper closed at US$3.60 per pound Monday and iron ore traded at US$155.50 per tonne.
The broad S&P GCSI Commodity Index, comprising 28 investable commodities, has risen 10 per cent this year alone.
A slew of banks have begun using the term “commodity supercycle” to describe the current market dynamics, which are largely driven by rebounding demand in China, where an economic rebound following its COVID-19 lockdowns and steelmaking and manufacturing has driven price appreciation. But economists warn the term is too exuberant a term for what is expected to be a two-year bull market for commodities that could still be derailed by more shutdowns from the outbreak of COVID-19 variants.
Price Street's Johnston said much of the commodity hype has followed a bullish thesis that New York investment bank Goldman Sachs published late last year.
Goldman Sachs' commodities research team called for a bull market in commodities in October 2020 and has been publishing notes to support its “policy-driven structural rise in commodity demand thesis” since that time, which is underpinned in part by a “globally synchronized green wave of stimulus” spending that will drive commodity prices higher.
The bank noted that its commodities basket is up 24 per cent since November, 2020.
Investors have been parking their funds in the sector, encouraged by the promise of the global economy reopening. A Monday research note from Citigroup Global Markets shows investors poured US$4.6 billion into commodity indexes and linked ETFs last week and cumulative inflows this year total US$12.6 billion, bringing total assets under management to a record high of US$654 billion.
“If you look at copper or aluminum or nickel or cobalt or platinum or palladium, the demand is there and the supply is going to be strained in the next year or two but to call it a supercycle is not really coming to grips with what really is happening,” Citigroup's Morse said.
Similarly, London-based Capital Economics published a report Monday that green stimulus spending and an economic recovery will not benefit all base metals evenly and, “We don't think a commodities-wide supercycle is on the cards.”
“The latest rally in commodity prices is reminiscent of 2009-2010 in that it has been fuelled by strong Chinese demand. We expect that this is likely to run out of steam this year, as stimulus is withdrawn, and that prices will fall back,” Capital Economics' chief commodities economist Caroline Bain wrote.
Each individual commodity requires should be evaluated on its own, according to Scotiabank Economics senior economist Marc Desormeaux.
“In terms of broad increases in commodity pricing, that is something that we've built into our forecast,” Desormeaux said.
Desormeaux published his most recent Scotiabank Commodity Price Index on Jan. 28 and expects Brent oil benchmark prices to rise from an average price of US$39 per barrel in 2020 to US$51 per barrel this year and US$57 per barrel next year.
He also forecast higher average prices for natural gas, copper, nickel, zinc and aluminum in each of the next two years, though iron ore and gold prices are expected to level off in 2021.
The Canadian dollar has also edged higher against U.S. dollar on Monday, on the back of surging oil prices and as data showed speculators raising bullish bets on the currency.
The loonie was trading 0.1 per cent higher Monday at 1.2738 to the greenback, or 78.49 U.S. cents, having touched its strongest level since Jan. 27 at 1.2731, Reuters reported.
As of Feb. 2, speculators had raised net long positions in the Canadian dollar to the most since last February, data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed on Friday.