Tom Brady's surreal day ends well

When New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady writes the definitive book on his Hall of Fame career, he could fill a chapter with what unfolded on Sept. 9, 2010. No game was played, but there were potential life-altering events.

The day started with a scary car accident in Boston's Back Bay that shook him up and had news helicopters circling Gillette Stadium filming his every move on the practice field. It ended with him signing a four-year, $72 million extension from 2011 to 2014 -- which also includes an unspecified amount of money in 2010 in the form of a signing bonus -- that positions him to play his entire career in New England.

The events were unrelated as the contract had been at the goal line for a few days, ready to be punched through for the score. Still, it is only natural to connect them. What a whirlwind.

On Wednesday, when Brady was fielding questions about his long-term future in New England, he had talked about how he was taking a "different approach," explaining that he now lives his life as though nothing is guaranteed in the future. He just wants to seize the day.

Then came the car accident Thursday morning, which, had the timing been slightly altered, could have changed everything for Brady. It's the type of stuff that had to send chills down his spine, especially since he didn't officially sign the contract, which had already been agreed upon, until later on Thursday.

The Patriots are expected to officially announce the contract Friday. It is easily the richest deal in team history, and depending how contracts are defined by those analyzing them, will make Brady either the highest paid player in the NFL or one of the highest paid. Few would argue that Brady has earned every bit of the new deal.

While it's easy to get bogged down in the contract figures, and compare Brady's pact to others in the NFL to judge how it rates, the simple approach often works best in situations like these.

In this case, Brady has said he wants to play until he's 40 and this deal will take him to 37. Meanwhile, Patriots fans get at least five more years of Brady leading the team. Brady, whose three Super Bowl titles will ultimately have him enshrined in Canton, Ohio, will have played 15 seasons at that point.

That's why Sept. 9, 2010 was a significant date for both Brady and the stability of the franchise.

Maybe in the coming days, Brady will let his guard down and reveal what was going through his mind at the time of the car accident, when he was most vulnerable, and how the day ended with news of his contract set to become official, which represents the biggest form of long-term security a player can receive in a sport with little of it.

Maybe we'll also find out about a major breakthrough in contract talks -- perhaps on a Cape Cod golf course one August day -- and some other revealing bits of information that led to this conclusion, such as whether there ever truly was a "growing sense of disconnect" between the sides.

Through all the twists and turns, this was the anticipated ending: Brady and the Patriots hitched for the next five years, and perhaps more after that.

The final hurdle turned out to be one of the most unpredictable.

A day that began with the team's fans concerned about the condition of a franchise icon ended with news that not only was he OK, but that he'd put his signature on a long-anticipated contract.

It was surreal stuff, all the way around.

Mike Reiss covers the Patriots for ESPN Boston. You can follow him on Twitter or leave a question for his weekly mailbag.