There's every chance Bernard Tomic wasn't watching ESPN in the lead-up to the NFL play-off between the Indianapolis Colts and New England Patriots around lunchtime on Sunday, but that doesn't mean he can't learn something from what was said.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick, regarded by some as the best NFL coach in history, was interviewed pre-game in the signature soft-lens-and-dark-and-moody-lighting-that-means-this-is-serious manner the American sport broadcaster does better than anyone else.
The 61-year-old and five-time Super Bowl winner was asked what he hoped his contribution to football would be when he finally hung up the Motorola headset.
“I would somehow hope that I could feel like I have given as much back to the game as the game has given to me,” he said. “Football has been such a big part of my life, and my family's life. Without football, I don't know what my dad would've done. Football opened a door for him, for me, it's opened so many doors, and I hope that in some way what I've given back has been reciprocal to what I've taken from the game.”
What would Tomic and his family's life be without tennis? As he approaches his first-round mission against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open on Tuesday, he might want to consider what he's giving back to the game instead of what he thinks it owes him.
This is not a malevolent attack on Team Tomic.
His family has been fighting their way out of adversity for decades, starting in war-torn Croatia, all the way to the little flat in Southport in Queensland where his father John taught himself to speak English via the internet and then taught Bernard to play tennis with a racquet bought at a garage sale for 50 cents.
John has been butting heads with tennis officialdom from the moment it was clear – around the age of 13 – to all concerned that little “A-Tomic” was the greatest Australian tennis prospect since Lleyton Hewitt.
Tomic snr wasn't stubborn for the sake of it. He wanted the best for his son and his family because they had come from nothing. When you fight for so long, you can forget who the enemy is, despite an expectant Australian public quickly prejudging him as another Damir Dokic.
Then, last year, John stopped butting heads figuratively and, instead, took its literal meaning and headbutted Bernard's hitting partner Thomas Drouet in Madrid.
Contrary to popular belief, Bernard doesn't do everything his father tells him. He's no puppet.
Yet, by proxy, the Drouet incident fuelled a fire that Tomic jnr wasn't Our Bernie. Not like Our Lleyton. Or Our Pat.
It was added to a long list of controversies that included fallouts with Hewitt over something as trivial as a practice session at Wimbledon, to Pat Rafter questioning the youngster's desire at Davis Cup level, to flouting road rules in fast yellow cars on the Goldie to being photographed getting a double-lappie as a high-profile Toolie during Schoolies.
Subsequently, there is a preoccupation with Tomic's focus.
Mark Philippoussis' advice in the News Ltd press on Sunday that Tomic needs to get “pissed off” was stunning in its latent hypocrisy. The 21-year-old's response: “Effort is only between you and you . . . I think [my work ethic] is pretty good. What do you think?”
Sorry, Bernie, you've got to square that one away with yourself. Against, Nadal, you'll need every ounce of it.
But, since you asked, we're actually more concerned about your humility, and whether to climb aboard the bandwagon. We've been hurt before.
You said as a teenager you wanted “the serve of Goran Ivanisevic, the mind of Pete Sampras, the groundstrokes of Roger Federer and the heart of Lleyton Hewitt”.
How about the humility of Federer? Or Rafter? Or Nadal, no? Even Novak Djokovic, who is as goofy as he is talented?
How about you turn the Nike cap around at your press conference on Sunday, put the water bottle away while you're talking, remove the chip from your shoulder, and talk like an adult?
We understand that you're 21, that you've had a different upbringing to most, and that you are special. We understand that you need the right mix of arrogance and talent to make it in professional tennis. We envy you.
But wouldn't it be much easier if we were all mates? If we could get the same warm and fuzzy feeling when we watch you play like, say, when Rod Laver and Federer are hitting balls to each other?
We would rather cheer and admire the qualities in you, as you play in the sweatbox of Rod Laver Arena on day two, as well as Nadal, who plays until his opponent's body and mind gives up – or his does.
That's because the best tennis players, in our eyes, aren't the ones that necessarily win, but the ones that give back.
Just a little.
The story Australian Open: Bernard Tomic, ask not what the game can do for you first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.