Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Hardship #0000000000001 in Tom Brady's Life

I was listening to A Sports Radio Station here in town yesterday and I will let you guess which one it was. I decided to try listening to sports radio again now that interesting sports are back. Sports Radio Station's jocks were discussing Tom Brady's season ending injury and both of them, rather shockingly, came to the swift conclusion that, "I mean, no matter what, you gotta love Tom Brady. Everyone loves the guy. As a player, obviously. But as a person, just as a guy, no one has a bad thing to say about him. It's impossible to say a bad thing about him."

Apparently, these guys read a different internet and different doctor's office magazine's and watched a different 60 Minutes interview than I did. Now, I will give you that the internet is just full of bitter assholes and I'm probably no exception. But to say that Tom Brady is some Brett Favre-rian Everyman about whom few people can think of a bad thing to say is almost delusional to me.

I cannot deny that Brady is a phenomenal player. As in, Top 10 of All Time in his field. Nothing can negate that and watching his dexterity is astonishing. I would never try to belittle his athletic achievements or intimate that he is somehow not as good of a player as he's been given credit for being. He just is. He's one of the best ever.

Now that I have that out of the way, I can delve into why I personally and I am assuming many other people in print media and sports forums have a pretty intense dislike of the guy. For me, he represents the archetype of someone who has never and will never have to face any type of adversity in any way. I'm not saying that every athlete should be some malnourished Kenyan long distance runner who fashions his shoes out of banana leaves and strands of his dead mother's hair. And I am also not saying that being born with the winning DNA lottery ticket is in any way his cross to bear. But he very clearly exudes the air of having lived his entire life knowing that he would never want for anything. He wouldn't have to worry about academics, he's got a full athletic scholarship ride, duh. What if he didn't want to do that? Well, he could always just get lazy and be a male model, I guess. What if he got too lazy to do that? Well, he's from a pretty financially comfortably family so he could always sort of just ride that train and see where it takes him. Now, of course we know that he did end up going to Michigan and majored in organizational studies (cough cough) and so on and so forth. But again, it's hard not to see the world as being just laid at his feet.

And with all of these golden opportunities laid at the golden child's feet, I guess I would just hope for a little more hubris in interviews. Because all I get from Tom Brady in interviews is a smug knowledge that he will never have to answer for anything. Trails of pregnant ex-girlfriends and supermodel current girlfriends? Meh. Talk to the dimples. Spygate? Please refer all questions to my Stetson ads. It almost feels like with one small tweak, he could be the coolest guy on the planet. He could be football's Paul Rudd. Girls want him, guys want to be him. Of course, that one small tweak would be for him to become a likable self-deprecating human (appearing on Family Guy doesn't count, sorry) instead of a smug Prom King nightmare.

It's also worth noting that I can't be sure that this doesn't have more to do with Bill Belichick. The uproarious schadenfreude that flared up yesterday across sports media over Brady's injury could quickly be traced back to Spygate and Belichick. The most amusing comment I read, via a Deadspin commenter, was:

"At least now we'll all get to be reminded of the "genius" that Belichick demonstrated while coaching the Browns from 1991-1995."

Belichick is, clearly, not a very likable or outgoing sort of guy. Combine that with the fact that most people think that he lucked into his Super Bowl rings with a combination of Brady, Moss, good timing and cheating. And to get away with it with essentially a slap on the wrist from the NFL, well there was most certainly going to be some sort of karmic hell to pay down the road. Now, I think if you had asked any number of people who believed that the universe would correct this unfairness how exactly they thought they would see this justice be meted out, I think they would have probably imagined Randy Moss out for 9 games. Maybe Brady hurts his hand and it's a nagging injury that brings down his accuracy all season. I don't think anyone in their wildest dreams would have thought that Tom Brady would have suffered a season ending torn ACL in the first quarter of the first game of the season. And who's your backup? A quarterback who didn't play in college.

Obviously, it's unfortunate when anyone gets hurt. But that's why these players get paid as handsomely as they do. And no, Randy Moss, it wasn't a dirty play. It was a play.

Some people might get up in arms about this being bad for football. They are of course wrong. How in the world can the "unbeatable" team in the AFC being knocked from the top and shaking up the entire AFC and opening up the race to ANYONE in the first game of the season be anything but completely exciting, refreshing and, dare I say it, a nice little parable of the big guy never being invincible?



Anonymous said...

I have to preface this by saying I'm not a Tom Brady fan AT ALL- pretty indifferent actually, as most of my hatred is aimed towards Belichick...but Brady was 7th on the depth chart at Michigan at one point, and worked extremely hard to eventually become a starter. He was drafted #199 in the NFL and again worked very hard to be prepared when Bledsoe was hurt...just saying he did have to work hard for his career. I agree with you in general though, he ain't exactly Jesus or Gandhi or even Tom Cruise.

amandacobra said...

Yeah, I will admit that he has worked once in college and in the pros to get to where he is now. And again, I never said he wasn't a good player and obviously a really determined athlete. I just don't think he shows any sort of humility. Like if he HADN'T gotten from 7th string guy/199th pick, oh well. You know?

And like you said, it's REALLY REALLY hard for me to know where just thinking Brady is kind of a smug guy ends and despising Belichick begins. It's pretty murky.

diahh said...

ESPN has been making it sound like his career is over, not just the season. They've been saying things like he "was" one of the best players in the NFL and they wish him all the best. Weird.

Anonymous said...


amandacobra said...

@ diahh

Stranger things have happened. I introduce into evidence:

Jul. 20, 2008 - 4:07 p.m. ET
Redskins DE Phillip Daniels will undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL on Friday. He will be placed on injured reserve, ending his season.
Maybe he could come back as a defensive tackle, but we wouldn't bet on seeing Daniels, 35, play in the NFL again. The Redskins were expecting too much from him already this season. He's due $2 million in 2009 salary and seems likely to be a cap casualty next offseason.
Source: Washington Post

diahh said...

Interesting, and the Pats seem to be doing fine without him. Combine that with the fact that he really doesn't have much incentive to come back, already has three rings and plenty of money, and it seems like a safe bet he'll announce his retirement after the season. None of this changes the fact that Belichick is a tool. I saw a post from a former Pats employee (can't remember where) and he said that the most liked guy on the team was Moss and the least liked was Seau, kind of surprising.

diahh said...

I meant to say most liked by other players and Pats employees.