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Tom Brady: Have We Done Him Wrong?

Posted by Ben Collins, Today's Soundtrack  October 21, 2010 08:00 AM

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I’m a New York Giants fan. We’ve been rooting for Eli Manning for a few years now. This is like having a very sleepy child who sometimes forgets to put on pants and doesn’t realize this until he has gotten to school. We are desperately proud of him whenever he does something that whiffs of mediocrity.

When he won us that Super Bowl, it was like he came home from the art class he had been failing with something that looked like a previously undiscovered Van Gogh. It’s not that we didn’t think he could do it—it’s that we knew he couldn’t do it. It was a statistical impossibility. We had previously been proud that he knew what a paintbrush even was. Now, we have to lug this damn wall-sized mural into the trunk of our station wagon—half-dazed, still, looking at the intricacies, glaring at his uplifting use of warm colors—and drag it to auction.

It’s been over two years now and Eli hasn’t left the back of the car. It’s become clear he has no idea what, exactly, he has done right.

Eli Manning sells watches now. Watches and cell phones and Toyotas and shoes—all very expensive endorsement deals he got for playing somewhere between four and 12 very good quarters of football one year. I don’t think I could ever buy a watch Eli Manning was selling. I still live in a world where I’m not entirely certain that Eli Manning knows how to read an analog clock, let alone an offensive playbook complex enough to win the NFC East.

Glad we got that out of the way.

Why aren’t you people obsessed with Tom Brady?

Look, I know the perils of sports idolization and worship. It’s generally – check that; make it almost always – an unfathomably bad idea. Even the “good ones” end up driving their Escalades off a cliff while evading arrest.

But, really, you people should be bidding on Tom Brady’s illegally-obtained, auctioned-off hair just for the chance to smell it.

Creepy? Yes. Necessary? Probably.

Let’s lay this out in black and white, stripping names and leaving only the attributes. In the NFL, in 2010, there is a team that is 4-1 with a receiving corps/backfield that is, without exaggeration, a collection of mostly stumpy, 5-foot-8, undrafted white guys. And the defense is—to put this delicately—ill-regarded.

You people should be laminating every used napkin that this man drops at a buffet table.

Tom Brady resurrected Deion Branch’s career this week and he did it with no help from Deion Branch. This took place solely through the power of friendship.

If Tom Brady’s best friend was an unvaccinated feral cat on Sunday, Rabies Moss would’ve gone for at least 75 yards receiving and two scores before collecting an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for collapsing into a ball in the endzone and batting feverishly at a pylon.

How can you people not be on the brink of institutionalization because of how much you appreciate this guy?

I think I know where some of the appreciation malaise came from.

ESPN columnist Bill Simmons (né “The Boston Sports Guy,” thus the authority) spent some podcast time in the first few weeks of the season implying that Brady was in ill-repute with New Englanders. He talked of the dreaded “some people back home” and their belief that Brady’s long hair was a sign that he had gone soft and lost his must-win tenacity. He said, in so many words, that those people back home might not want to root for a pretty-boy who has it all and wants fame over wins. He said those people back home might want him gone.

But let's be real: It’s probably just Bill Simmons overcompensating for the fact that he now lives in The Land of Flowing Locks (Los Angeles) himself.

I say this not to belittle Bill Simmons in any way. I find him relaxing, in italics like that, like four Enya albums playing one on top of another, all at the same time.

And his idea, if correct, would be a logical explanation. Who wants to root for the alpha male, the literal varsity quarterback, the Hummer H3 pulling into the only available space in life’s Walgreen’s parking lot? No one.

And that’s exactly why you should be bribing Tom Brady’s landscape company with unmarked bills for unfettered access to clippings from his lawn’s begonias.

Disregard the well-primped mane, the awards and championships, and the hot wife and her dagger eyes for a few seconds. Tom Brady is the everyman and you only need to look at that car accident a few weeks ago to know it.

First of all, he drives an Audi. One of your uncles drives an Audi. This is a fact of life.

And did you see him in those pictures? It is impossible to fake genuine concern at 5 a.m. He was sincerely worried and stuck around until the whole mess got sorted out, despite knowing what kind of media attention this would bring over the course of the next week.

This actively betrayed NFL policy, which explicitly directs all players to “flee any possible legal trouble in your league-assigned Escalade, preferably while throwing diamonds at any potential victims. Watch out for those cliffs, though. Those things’ll jump right out at you.”

(Nope, we’re never letting this one go, Junior.)

And have you seen his draft combine video from 2000? Tom fully embraced the frump. He doesn’t look like John Elway. Hell, he doesn’t look like Jon Kitna. He does, however, look kind of like Oprah in The Color Purple.

You could argue that Tom Brady was every woman. Before your very eyes, he has become the everyman.

Tom Brady does not default to dreamboat. He works pretty hard at it. I’m not sure he defaults to being the best quarterback in the league, either, but he’s worked pretty hard at getting back to that level after tearing his ACL and MCL less than two years ago.

Tell me why you people haven’t worked out a surefire Top 40 hit that’s a mnemonic device for his social security number yet?

It’s Thursday and already everyone has forgotten. Four days ago, Tom Brady marched down the field again, non-chalantly—smoking a cigarette, probably, and reading Entertainment Weekly—and won a game for your team when you needed him to in overtime. Down ten in the 4th quarter, he actually did this three times, and he did it against a top-5 team in the NFL.

But who’s counting, right? Certainly not New England. Not appropriately, at least.

Of course, if you don’t want him, I know 31 teams that would love to have him. There’s one team in particular that would gladly offer a replacement. He’s won a Super Bowl, he’s covered head-to-toe in watches, he's pantsless and he's stuck in the back of a station wagon.

You know what? Just take the station wagon.

Today's Soundtrack: Le Reno Amps - How You Did Me Wrong

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About the author

Ben Collins can't help but search beyond Feist for the zeitgeist of Today's Soundtrack, his pick of a song or songs capturing the mood or events of the moment. His musical tastes vary from Strawberry Fields to The Magnetic Fields, from Low to Skee-Lo. A North Shore native, Ben has worked at The Boston Globe and Spin and is an Emerson grad. Make your own nominations to him at ben.t.collins@comcast.net or on Twitter @globesoundtrack. More »

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