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Tom Brady’s hand injury has people in conspiracy mode

You probably shouldn’t worry about ol’ Tom. But that’s not stopping a million conspiracy theories.

NFL: AFC Divisional Playoff-Tennessee Titans at New England Patriots David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Jaguars-Patriots AFC Championship game this upcoming Sunday got slightly more interesting, with Tom Brady officially listed as questionable on the injury report Friday. The 40-year-old landed on the injury report Wednesday and didn’t practice on Thursday. People are very concerned!

But it’ll all be fine (probably).

Coach Bill Belichick was asked about Brady’s status for Sunday’s AFC Championship game on Friday morning. He responded with the usual amount of salt:

Brady was just as secretive Friday, telling reporters “we’ll see” if he plays Sunday and that he wasn’t interested in divulging any more details about his injury. He even went so far as to wear gloves to his press conference.

It wasn’t until Saturday night that ESPN’s Dianna Russini finally reported the obvious: Brady will start in the AFC Championship.

What happened to Tom Brady’s hand?

Brady bumped into a teammate (later identified as Rex Burkhead) at practice on Wednesday, hitting his hand on the player. That got him sent to the team’s medical staff and excused him from his regularly scheduled media availability on Wednesday afternoon.

The Patriots being who they are, a lot of people assumed it was just an excuse to keep him away from the cameras. But it turns out he really does have a hand injury.

Brady was listed as limited during Wednesday’s practice with a right hand injury. He was out Thursday.

X-rays of Brady’s hand revealed no structural damage, per Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, and a source told Mike Reiss of ESPN that Brady’s hand “should be OK.” Michael Felger of 98.5 The Sports Hub said that Brady had four stitches in his hand, but it “should not affect him.”

Still, the Patriots aren’t saying anything beyond the fact that it’s a hand injury, giving no specifics about which finger(s), the various bones in there or anything else.

And it seems like he’s OK. He was at practice Thursday, though the Patriots officially listed him as “Did Not Practice”:

And again on Friday:

He was designated as a limited participant, but it’s not clear if he threw at practice.

How does it compare to Brady’s past injuries?

It’s not the first time Brady has popped up on the injury report this season. He had been on and off it with an Achilles tendon injury since the middle of the season. Brady was at practice on Wednesday and was seen throwing the football prior to hitting his hand.

Brady had also been on the injury report with a hurt shoulder in late December but was taken off the injury report altogether on Dec. 30.

When he was asked about the specifics regarding his injuries during his Dec. 29 press conference, he would only say, via the Boston Globe, “That’s a tricky question. I’ll pass.”

Could Brady really miss this week’s game?

Lol, no. It would probably take a natural disaster or some breakthrough research about the dangers of consuming too many electrolytes as part of an anti-aging fad before Brady missed this week’s Conference Championship.

NFL insider Ian Rapoport mentioned that it doesn’t seem to be anything serious for Brady. But going against a Jaguars defense that has been one of the NFL’s most fearsome, the Patriots will want a healthy Brady.

That hasn’t stopped a wave of conspiracy theories about Brady’s hand and the Patriots trying to get into the heads of their opponent this week.

Jaguars defensive lineman Malik Jackson thinks it’s a ruse. Appearing Thursday on PFT Live, he brushed it aside.

“I remember (Buffalo Bills running back) LeSean McCoy said he had a high ankle sprain and came out there cutting and stuff,” Jackson said. “So I’m gonna get ready for his best and make sure that we’re all out there to get Tom Brady’s best.”

Some fans even started to dig into conspiracy theories about the glove Brady wore on his hand, revealing just a tiny bit of panic among the Patriots faithful. This photo of Brady wearing a glove on Thursday was the subject of intense speculation about what kind of conspiracy may be afoot:

Brady, who also wore the glove Friday, has said in the past that he doesn’t like to wear gloves when he plays. Still, he was just wearing the glove, not practicing with it. There was some speculation that he had a splint on his thumb in that picture and that it’s potentially there because he dislocated it.

If you’re looking for a silver lining or some other sign of hope, Brady’s teammates didn’t seem especially concerned about it. Then again, they weren’t exactly forthcoming either:

Still, it’s enough of a concern that the line has moved just a little. The Patriots opened as 9-point favorites, but that has closed to -7.5 points in the wake of GloveGate.

The Patriots have elevated injury report obfuscation into an art. Take all this with a healthy dose of skepticism.

But for now, there doesn’t appear to be a reason to panic.