The Tom Brady statistic that interests me the most these days is 22,000 square feet. I suppose I should be paying more attention to that three-year, $27 million contract extension that the 35-year-old star quarterback signed this week that "frees up cap space" for the New England Patriots for the coming seasons -- important stuff, no doubt, but the more I look at those numbers the more they read like something included in the fine print of the warrantee for my flat-screen television set. The 22,000-square-feet number is far more compelling.

That is the size of Tom Brady's new house in Brentwood, Calif. You know, the one that is surrounded by a moat.

"Gisele," Tom says into his walkie-talkie. "I'm in the gym, where are you?"

"I'm in the library, Tom."

"Which one?"

How do you live in a house roughly the size of the Staples Center or the international terminal at LAX, bigger than half the city halls in all of America? Do you call up What's-Her-Name in England, the one who resides at Windsor Castle, for pointers?  

These are the People magazine kind of off-season questions attached to sports celebrities that I love, wrapped in fun and jealousy and low-grade snark to make us keep reading. How much water fits in that "resort-style" swimming pool?" How many cars in that "six-car garage?" What kinds of cars would those cars be? Are there going to be alligators in that moat?

There are no People magazine off-season questions attached to that three-year, $27 million contract extension. The contract extension is business. Just business.

Any story with the words "salary cap" involved makes the casual sports fan begin to squirm. Someone is going to mention "a hard cap" and then someone else is going to mention a "soft cap" and before you know it you're going to feel like you're watching a PowerPoint presentation on the values of different kinds of annuities. Numbers are going to swirl around in bunches. Someone is going to do something strange like trade the contract of some injured, washed-up player for an active player who is going to step into a lineup and start.

"It's a great deal," the general manger who picked up the contract for the injured player will declare.

"It is?" I will ask the television set.

The salary cap rules are so cloudy and convoluted that teams hire experts to do nothing but cap math, figuring out contingencies and possibilities. The casual fan has little chance to keep up because he does not have all the facts, all the numbers. He also does not have the interest. There are salary caps in football, basketball and hockey. Who can keep them straight? Who even tries? This is sport played with an abacus and hand-held calculators behind closed doors. The casual fan (me) is on the wrong side of those doors.

The Brady re-negotiation was simply another shrewd deal on the athletics market.  First reports were that he had taken an altruistic salary hit, leaving a lot of money on that fine oak negotiating table to open up $15 million worth of room for the Pats under the salary cap. Very nice. Different. This extra room perhaps would enable them to keep favorite free-agent wide receiver Wes Welker and pick up some additional talent. Second reports backed off the first reports. The altruism pretty much disappeared.

Mr. Brady will make out fine. He apparently will receive a $30 million signing bonus that will give him a raise over the next two seasons. He also has some guarantees built into the contract that could pay him as much as $57 million if he is injured seriously during those two seasons. If he still is healthy after the seasons are completed at age 38, well, the final two seasons probably will be re-negotiated again with another fine signing bonus. All of this somehow opens up the $15 million of space, a loophole that will allow the Pats to sign more players for next year.

Everybody wins. Nobody loses.


"Yawn," I say. "Double yawn."

Much more interesting is the fact that a bunch of this new money for the quarterback probably will be spent to build a second house for his family in the Boston area, a little pied-a-terre to use during these grid seasons to come. This would be a 10,000-square-foot house on a 5.2-acre plot of land in Brookline, Mass., that was approved for sale by Pine Manor College this week. Plans also include a 1,675-square-foot cottage and a 1,342-square-foot yoga studio.

"Gisele, I'm in the yoga studio. Where are you?"

"I'm in the library."

"Here in Brookline? Or in Brentwood?"

The Brookline property is in the same area where Patriots owner Robert Kraft lives. I also wouldn't worry about Kraft's finances after this re-structured agreement with his quarterback. The Patriots owner's picture was in my morning Boston Globe yesterday. He was posed with his girlfriend, Ricki Lander, and Bono, that Bono, and Bono's daughter, Eve Hewson. They all were attendees at Elton John's annual post-Oscar celebration party in West Hollywood. They all were smiling. Bono wore those orange sunglasses with his tuxedo.

I could be wrong, but I don't think anybody was talking about the salary cap.