Put aside the video cameras and deflated footballs.
In the minds of most football fans, Tom Brady is painted as a cheater, a sneaky, conniving crook and Peeping Tom. He is, truthfully, a pretty boy who is portrayed as a villainous bad guy, not an innocent guy you’d see in an episode of the Brady Bunch or Baywatch.
It’s not exactly because of cheating, not because he’s the league’s handsome face, but frankly because nobody can beat him. Brady, at the age of 40, though he’s cast as the villain, the enemy, still reigns supreme in NFL merchandise sales.
The hate comes when he’s winning Super Bowls, when he’s hoisting trophies after a triumphant victory. There’s no one better than Brady —America’s most despised quarterback. Truth be told, a lot of resentment, jealousy and anger come with the territory of becoming undoubtedly the best quarterback to ever.
When he decides to leave at the top of his game, even if he’s suspected of cheating, most of the country will appreciate him once he’s gone. For now, at least, mostly everyone outside of New England is rooting for Brady and the Patriots to lose in Super Bowl LII on Sunday.
For all the spiteful talk about Brady, he’s viewed as a notorious scoundrel, a well-known Joe Montana impersonator. Still, he’s a five-time Super Bowl champion, a unanimous MVP choice, a guiding beacon for the Patriots.
Brady, brilliant and extraordinary, has done nothing so egregious by which he has greatly exonerated himself. He was arguably part of the greatest Super Bowl ever a year ago, carving out a lasting legacy with his game-winning drive in overtime against the Falcons.
He doesn’t mind being seen in the negative light by others, or playing the role of a villain who everybody around the world loves to loathe. It drives him to obsess over his craft and helps him reach new heights every season.
With the majority keeping a close eye on Brady, particularly when he has spearheaded the greatest dynasty in sports, he’s cultivating a culture of excellence for the Patriots. A focus for Brady has been to do whatever he can to help his team win.
It’s foolish to think that he’s a self-serving scum, not only because he dedicated last year’s comeback victory to his cancer-free mother, Galynn, not only because a female reporter showed up to a Media Day years ago in a wedding dress asking him to marry her, but because he straps on his helmet and, historically and remarkably, takes his team down the field.
The rising tide of hostility towards Brady breeds great drama and entices an audience to fall deeply in love with the underdog Eagles while showing disdain for the Patriots. Football, like any sport, demands a villain as well as a feel-good story, one we can spend our years telling repetitively, and Brady has been a part of nearly every great story told in the game.
Brady, on a mission to win football games, could care less about how he is defined as a player. He could care less that folks think of him as Darth Vader. By now you know he’s very dangerous, backed by a battalion of Storm Troopers, but either way, they will be tested by a very good Eagles team, led by the resurrected QB Nick Foles.
When the Patriots sprint onto the US Bank Stadium playing surface on Sunday, Brady’s go-to tight end Rob Gronkowski will be ready to play after he was cleared from concussion protocol. Not behaving like a pretentious or petulant schoolboy, at the media session on Tuesday afternoon inside Mall of America, Brady sat at the table with cameras at every corner and swarms of reporters thrusting microphones in his face and was more animated than his coach, Bill Belichick.
Maybe he’s not that pompous jerk we make him out to be, after all, finally showing a side of him we’ve never quite seen. If he guides the Patriots to title No. 6, to add more bling bling to his shiny fingers, one can only assume that folks will glorify him at last and come to the realization that no one matches his level of production.
It was nice, for a change, to see a carefree, fun-loving Brady talk openly about his family, and speak with class about a Boston radio personality who was classless when he said Brady’s 5-year-old daughter was “an annoying little pissant.”
He’s better now than he was two years ago, and two years older, in better shape than ever, even though he’s past his prime. Serious about his health, undeniably, he’s not snacking on sweets, or devouring slices of pizza and candy bars.
For the longest time, he’s always been persistent in watching his weight and what he consumes on a daily basis. A lot of players, or even his teammates, wouldn’t be able to stick to his bizarre diet. He’s been drinking over 37 glasses of water each and every day, essentially punishing his body and making sure he stays hydrated for at least five days.
Brady’s decorated career as quarterback is phenomenal, and his numbers are only ascending, not descending. He always comes through in the playoffs, helping New England cultivate a culture of excellence as he won’t be denied his place in Patriots lore.
One thing certain is that he doesn’t care about to his legacy, or about the personal achievements or where we’ll rank him. He cares only about getting his team to the Super Bowl and coming out of the pile on top.
There’s no evidence in his game —at least not yet—that he’s ready to sit back in his rocking chair, or work on projects in his garage as the retired grandfather of quarterbacks, or that old age is catching up to him.
Some marvel at Brady’s success. And some cringe at his accomplishments, blinded by the notion that he’s beyond amazing with a chance this upcoming weekend in the frozen land of 10,000 lakes to show us that he’s the best of the best.