The Unbearable Emptiness of Tom Brady

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  john-russell  •  4 weeks ago  •  27 comments

The Unbearable Emptiness of Tom Brady
Brady has gone out of his way to offend as few people as possible in this era of polarization, because Brady is all about his brand. He is more brand than man. His brand is what he loves and protects above all else.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T




The Unbearable Emptiness of Tom Brady


DAVE ZIRIN   FEBRUARY 04, 2021

tom-brady-drama-img.jpg?scale=896&compress=80

Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers looks on from the tunnel before playing against the Washington Football Team. (Patrick Smith / Getty Images)

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What Tom Brady has done over two decades is the equivalent of dancing through raindrops without getting wet. He has dominated the most lauded position in American sports—quarterback—to incredible effect. After being drafted 199th in the year 2000 to little notice, he is now set to play in his 10th Super Bowl this Sunday. No other quarterback has ever played in more than five.

We know factoids about him: that he doesn’t eat strawberries, and that he claims his special TB12 dietary and training plan has allowed him to stretch out his productive years like no one who has ever played the game. And yet behind the handsome, well-preserved face, Brady remains a cipher.

There are those who have branded him as a Trump zealot, because of the presence of a MAGA hat in his locker back in 2015. But that doesn’t explain Brady’s going out of his way to never be photographed anywhere near Trump over the past six years. He also didn’t show up to two separate White House Super Bowl celebrations. That meant defying not only Trump but Trump’s pal in putrescence Patriots franchise owner Bob Kraft. It almost sounds principled until you learn that Brady never gave a reason beyond family concerns for missing both events.

He has never said an ill word about Trump, choosing to be “neutral” during an era when Trump used the NFL as his own personal punching bag. Brady did speak out in support of exiled quarterback Colin Kaepernick, but only after a ton of players had done so first. It was an easy lift.

Brady has gone out of his way to offend as few people as possible in this era of polarization, because Brady is all about his brand. He is more brand than man. His brand is what he loves and protects above all else.

There are other all-time great athletes of recent vintage who fall into this category, people whose sense of themselves is tied up more in marketability and winning than in politics or principle. It’s rare air that includes leviathans like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. The difference between Brady and his two compatriots is that Jordan and Tiger are Black. Brady’s whiteness prevents any kind of interrogation—the kind Jordan and Woods have endured throughout their careers—about whether he should be doing more with his platform, something more than just playing football and being Brady.

This absence of interrogation has allowed Brady to slalom from scandal to scandal over the last 20 years without any attendant fear about what his actions could mean to society or “the children.” There have been more “gates” than a wealthy community in Florida. Videogate or Deflategate could have felled lesser talents, and a Black athlete in a similar pickle would unquestionably have been canceled.

There is Brady’s bizarre personal physician, an alternative medicine practitioner named Alex Guerrero, someone whom Brady’s coach in New England, Bill Belichick, threw out of the team facilities for murky unknown reasons. And in what may have been Brady’s most disturbing act, he has advocated that the talented and toxic Antonio Brown play first in New England and now in Tampa Bay. The accusations against Brown of violence against women are so repugnant, it’s altogether probable that without Brady’s imprimatur, there is no way Brown would find his way back into the National Football League. Normally Brady affects the Bogart line of “sticking his neck out for nobody,” yet he has treated Brown like he’s behind enemy lines in Vichy France. Receivers like Brown have the capacity to extend the careers of people like Brady, and that’s the only moral calculus on display.

As David Leonard   wrote so prophetically in 2015 , “Tom Brady demonstrates the unflinching power of whiteness in contemporary America. Black people are punished and demonized for cheating. White men like Tom Brady get to do all sorts of shit for a competitive edge and they are gaming the system.”

The truth of the matter is that Brady isn’t a crypto-fascist, and he isn’t a saint. He is actually kind of simple. He doesn’t speak out about politics because he doesn’t know anything about politics. He had a Donald Trump hat because Trump was a rich guy on the golf course who was always quick with a scatological joke. It’s his unimaginable privilege that allows him to not have to care that Trump is a racist or an authoritarian. When he found out that others weren’t thrilled, that hat entered the witness protection program and hasn’t been seen since.

He is a part of so many scandals that are about getting an edge on opponents or Father Time because he understands that his brand is inextricably tied to his reputation as the greatest winner in NFL history. He understands with a laser-like intensity that in the 21st century, people don’t necessarily care how you win, only that you emerge victorious. And his whiteness is a “get out of jail free” card in the face of every reporter who has questioned his priorities or morals. Because in the end, Tom Brady isn’t asked to carry the weight of any community beyond the one in his manse. He only needs to be accountable to one person, and that’s “brand Tom Brady.” Good luck telling the difference between brand and man.


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JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1  seeder  JohnRussell    4 weeks ago
The truth of the matter is that Brady isn’t a crypto-fascist, and he isn’t a saint. He is actually kind of simple. He doesn’t speak out about politics because he doesn’t know anything about politics. He had a Donald Trump hat because Trump was a rich guy on the golf course who was always quick with a scatological joke. It’s his unimaginable privilege that allows him to not have to care that Trump is a racist or an authoritarian. When he found out that others weren’t thrilled, that hat entered the witness protection program and hasn’t been seen since.
 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Principal
1.1  Bob Nelson  replied to  JohnRussell @1    4 weeks ago

I do not understand why anyone expects a sports professional to know... anything... other than their sport. Being at the top is a full-time job. I mean 24/7 full-time.

When would the athlete find the time to learn about whatever?

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
1.1.1  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Bob Nelson @1.1    4 weeks ago

Off the playing field Brady seems to be something of a mannequin. Whether that fairly describes him or not I have no idea.  He got some criticism a few years ago when he was photographed with a MAGA hat in his locker, but he is crafty enough to not have revealed his opinion of Trump in words. 

tom-brady-maga-hat.jpg

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Principal
1.1.2  Bob Nelson  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.1    4 weeks ago

His longevity is amazing, but even Tom Brady will come to an end. Then what will he have? His brand. I'm really not surprised that he takes care of it.

 
 
 
Gordy327
PhD Principal
1.1.3  Gordy327  replied to  Bob Nelson @1.1.2    4 weeks ago

He'll have his brand, a hot wife, and a mountain of money. Yeah, I would take care of that too.

 
 
 
gooseisgone
Senior Quiet
1.1.4  gooseisgone  replied to  JohnRussell @1.1.1    4 weeks ago
Off the playing field Brady seems to be something of a mannequin.

Mannequin my ass, Brady is smart, he's not some loud mouth spewing garbage about topics he knows nothing about. Michael Jordan was another who kept a low profile, Tiger Woods another (other than with the ladies).  They are known for their sport, why fuck it up. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
PhD Principal
1.1.5  Texan1211  replied to  gooseisgone @1.1.4    4 weeks ago

Exactly.

I like my athletes to be athletes, not social justice warriors.

Same with actors/actresses.

That is my personal opinion, and of course they are free to do as they wish.

 
 
 
dennis smith
Senior Silent
1.1.6  dennis smith  replied to  gooseisgone @1.1.4    4 weeks ago

Seems like some on NT hate just hate successful people. 

 
 
 
Gordy327
PhD Principal
1.2  Gordy327  replied to  JohnRussell @1    4 weeks ago
He is actually kind of simple. He doesn’t speak out about politics because he doesn’t know anything about politics.

That's actually wise of him.

 
 
 
charger 383
PhD Quiet
2  charger 383    4 weeks ago

Many fans call Tom Brady the GOAT, Greatest Of All Time

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Principal
2.1  Bob Nelson  replied to  charger 383 @2    4 weeks ago

I'm not a fan. Not since Johnny U died.

Does Brady have any serious competition for GOAT? I don't see any, but then I was absent for forty years.

 
 
 
FLYNAVY1
Professor Expert
2.1.1  FLYNAVY1  replied to  Bob Nelson @2.1    4 weeks ago

One needs to keep it in perspective of rule changes over the years.

  • Offensive linemen can open their hands for pass blocking.
  • 5-yard rule regarding pass interference.
  • All of the rules to protect the quarterback.

Given the NFLs drive to increase scoring, through hamstringing defenses, and being more lenient on offenses through rule changes, I'm guessing that while good,  TB back in the 1970s-1980s would be pretty run of the mill.

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
2.1.2  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @2.1.1    4 weeks ago

Good points. The game is much friendlier to passing offenses than it used to be. For example there is much more pass interference and defensive holding penalties. 

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
2.1.3  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  FLYNAVY1 @2.1.1    4 weeks ago

If my memory serves , i think the NFLs push to protect players( not just quarterbacks) really got a jump start in the mid 80s  with the theisman / lawrence taylor injury that was televised on monday night football in 85.( i remember watching that game ) i wonder how many here saw that as it happened , and after reading what i wrote had an involentary gut twist?

personally i dont think brady would have been able to play in the same league as some of the guys that played in the late 60s and 70s , mention that era of the NFL and everyone remembers or sees in their mind the steelers line playing in the snow , there were barely any face protection on the helmets compared to today , many had taped fingers to hold those broken digits in place  , missing teeth, playing through injuries that today would cause todays players to be carted off the field on a gurney. 

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
Freshman Participates
2.1.4  Transyferous Rex  replied to  Bob Nelson @2.1    4 weeks ago
Does Brady have any serious competition for GOAT?

Way too early, but I think the guy he beat could be that competition. Mahomes is a damn gamer and winner, and I hope like hell he is able to stay healthy and play for several years. Chiefs have the talent to get there and win it again. I don't know that anyone will be able to get the number of rings Brady has though. 

 
 
 
gooseisgone
Senior Quiet
2.1.5  gooseisgone  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @2.1.1    4 weeks ago
TB back in the 1970s-1980s would be pretty run of the mill

I doubt that, the athletes today are bigger, stronger and much faster than those of the 70's. They changed the rule for lineman and 5-yard rule regarding pass interference in 1978 so you may need to go back further. If you look at the great quarter backs of that era I don't see any better than Brady, tougher, yes, better, no.   

 
 
 
Mark in Wyoming
Professor Silent
2.1.6  Mark in Wyoming   replied to  Transyferous Rex @2.1.4    4 weeks ago
I don't know that anyone will be able to get the number of rings Brady has though.

and when it comes to ring count , as it stands right now , only one person has more rings in the NFL.

Bill Belinchek has one more ring than Brady currently, and i said in the NFL , not player coaches get rings and count.

 
 
 
dennis smith
Senior Silent
2.1.7  dennis smith  replied to  FLYNAVY1 @2.1.1    4 weeks ago

It has been that way for all QB's, Brady just played better than all others. 

 
 
 
Texan1211
PhD Principal
2.2  Texan1211  replied to  charger 383 @2    4 weeks ago
Many fans call Tom Brady the GOAT, Greatest Of All Time

Not much debate there--especially when he has won more championships than any other quarterback has even played in.

Brady is unquestionably the greatest quarterback to ever play the game.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
Freshman Participates
3  Transyferous Rex    4 weeks ago
There are other all-time great athletes of recent vintage who fall into this category, people whose sense of themselves is tied up more in marketability and winning than in politics or principle. It’s rare air that includes leviathans like Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. The difference between Brady and his two compatriots is that Jordan and Tiger are Black. Brady’s whiteness prevents any kind of interrogation—the kind Jordan and Woods have endured throughout their careers—about whether he should be doing more with his platform, something more than just playing football and being Brady.

To Ziren's credit, I read a piece he wrote about Tiger, and he lambasts Tiger for promoting himself and his game, and not using his platform. I didn't search for anything on Jordan, but after reading the Tiger opinion piece, it wouldn't surprise me to find one. Ziren doesn't hide his beef. He thinks everyone should be a political advocate in some form or another. Frankly, I'm tired of the era of polarization. Watching sporting events should not be an adventure into politics or public service announcements. If I wanted to watch some asshat tell me how great my life is, I'd watch political hacks on any one of the networks. I don't need someone accused or convicted of rape to tell me that rape is bad, I already understand and appreciate that. I'm pretty sure that message, regardless of the source, doesn't mean a damn thing to a rapist. There isn't a rapist in prison, contemplating his life, thinking to himself, "if only X football player would have used his platform to speak out against rape...I might not be where I am today." This is more of the bullshit premise that we are owed something, that Brady didn't get to where he is (nor any other successful person for that matter) on his own, that he got there because of us, and he owes us. 

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Principal
3.1  Bob Nelson  replied to  Transyferous Rex @3    4 weeks ago

When I watch professional sports, I want to see the best players and the best play (2014 Spurs!). I do not expect nuclear physicists. (And vice versa...)

If a player wants to spend a portion of their capital-popularity on causes... that's fine! Let the buyer beware.

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
Freshman Participates
3.1.1  Transyferous Rex  replied to  Bob Nelson @3.1    4 weeks ago

Right? Although I think Josh Dobbs, QB for the Vols a few years ago, studied aerospace engineering. Might be playing for the Steelers now...have to look that up though.

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Principal
3.1.2  Bob Nelson  replied to  Transyferous Rex @3.1.1    4 weeks ago

I don't mean to say that athletes cannot be trained and competent in other fields. Some people have two areas of competence, or even three. But they're rare.

I'm saying athletes have a specialty where they're expected to shine, and there's no reason to expect anything more from them. Your guy Dobbs is clearly a bright guy... but would you expect him to parse James Joyce's Ulysses?

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
Freshman Participates
3.1.3  Transyferous Rex  replied to  Bob Nelson @3.1.2    4 weeks ago

No...I'm with you. You don't hear the Dobbs stories enough, in my opinion. 

 
 
 
Bob Nelson
Professor Principal
3.1.4  Bob Nelson  replied to  Transyferous Rex @3.1.3    4 weeks ago

Agreed. People like that should get notice. 

 
 
 
JohnRussell
Professor Principal
3.2  seeder  JohnRussell  replied to  Transyferous Rex @3    4 weeks ago

Dave Zirin does politicize sports, but he is one of the only ones that do. I think there is a place for this point of view alongside all the fluff that sports coverage engenders. 

 
 
 
Transyferous Rex
Freshman Participates
3.2.1  Transyferous Rex  replied to  JohnRussell @3.2    4 weeks ago

Ziren got on Kobe too, although not quite so hatefully, after Kobe's apology. I agree that sports writers don't necessarily need to kiss players' butts. This piece on Brady though? He expressly says:

Brady has gone out of his way to offend as few people as possible in this era of polarization

That's his real beef. He wasn't upset that Tiger betrayed his wife for years, he was upset that Tiger didn't use his prowess on the golf course as a platform. He's not upset about spy gate or deflategate, he's upset that Brady isn't out, on his free time, upsetting the apple cart somewhere. Ziren acts as if everyone should be as outspoken as Ali. You can't compare everyone to Ali, or hold them to that standard. He was a rare combination of talent and personality, and not everyone is cut from that cloth. 

 
 
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