Happy birthday my love! Thank you for being the best husband, father and friend. Thank you for being… http://t.co/KRikMT8050— Gisele Bündchen (@giseleofficial) August 3, 2013
Tom Brady turns 36 today. That makes him just a year younger than John Elway was when he won his first Super Bowl. Brady's looking better at 36 than he did at 26 - as you can plainly see by the cover of the September issue of "Men's Health" magazine, which hit newsstands Friday just in time for Brady's B-Day.
What does the man who seemingly has everything want for his birthday this year?
Perhaps someone on the roster who caught more than eight passes from him last season, his binky back from Peyton Manning, his favorite TD target off the PUP list and his most durable tight end to go back in time and not do what he allegedly did to Odin Lloyd.
Professionally, Brady had an early mid-life crisis of sorts at age 35. He put up some stellar numbers on the field during the 2012 regular season [63 percent completion rate, 4,827 yards passing, 34 TDs, a 98.4 rating]. He bore brunt of some epic Twitter-idiocy from Sports Illustrated columnist/cover subject Richard "U Mad Bro" Sherman after a loss at Seattle and was out-gunned by Colin Kaepernick and all those tats on national TV at home. Worse, he absorbed the brunt of most of the Ravens fury during and much of the fans' blame after the Patriots' 28-13 shellacking in the AFC championship game.
Then there was the off-season from heaven and hell.
The Patriots signed Tim Tebow. They let Wes Welker head for the mountains and Danny Woodhead take his quest for middle earth to San Diego. Frodo will be missed. Meanwhile, Rob Gronkowski partied on - around a couple of surgeries and Aaron Hernandez was arrested for murder and is in process of having his existence terminated from the team's history. Expect the newly-edited 2012 low-lights DVD to be released any day now.
The only familiar Target Brady's got left is located down Route 1 from Gillette Stadium in North Attleboro.
It's doubtful Brady's written any pen-pal letters to Hernandez during his current incarceration. As Brady ages and lurches toward the inevitable end of his career, he's shown less and less patience for anyone who can't "execute the basic fundamentals of the game."
Never mind someone with the talent and skills of Hernandez getting himself arrested for murder and jailed without bail.
Once Hernandez was cut by the Patriots, he was as dead to Brady as Fredo was to Michael after Mama Corleone died.
Most of us aren't too concerned about retirement at age 36. Most NFL players spent their 36th birthday looking back on their careers. Brady restructured his contract in February, keeping him under the Patriots' thumb at a hometown discount of sorts until he's 40. Whether his body holds out that long is 6-5 at best.
Brady's a husband, father and Baby Daddy. He's got his palace in Pacific Palisades, the supermodel, multi-millionaire wife, three seemingly wonderfully perfect kids, a healthy right arm, man-crush good looks and a life-time supply of UGGs.
The biggest criticism of Brady on his 36th birthday remains the fact that he hasn't won a fourth Super Bowl or sixth AFC championship game.
"Hey, Felgie, you know this guy sucks. He hasn't won a damn thing since 'SpyGate' - when is that idiot Belichick going to give Ryan Mallett a chance."
'SpyGate' is always a big hit with haters, trolls and Jets fans. It has many definitions, none of which ever threw a touchdown or intercepted a pass.
With all that in his football and personal life, Brady still plays like someone who hasn't won a damn thing and lives month-to-month with two roommates in Allston. Whether he's driven by greed, personal demons, fear or just a drive for "the next" ring, the Patriots and their fans reap the benefits.
Beyond his football talent, his attitude remains his best attribute. Tactical and football errors aside - after all no one is perfect but Joe Flacco in the 2012 postseason - isn't Brady the exact type of player that fans and media members with ties to New England want? The fact that he doesn't engage in the anti-social antics, trash talk [at least after the games] and general crap like so many other NFL players just makes him all the more endearing to the masses.
Every time he got pissed on the sidelines last season, fans in Foxborough and throughout the televised and digital universe found reassurance. Whatever ill will he had toward management toward the Welker fiasco has either been dealt with or smothered by the throw-weight of what's happened with Hernandez.
Brady's entering this season awash in sea of doubt. He, his coach, team owner and teammates were put on the spot by the Hernandez's alleged mis-deeds.
(Yes, the murder Hernandez is alleged to have committed crushes football in the world of real importance, but today we're dealing with football. Check these previous posts here and here for my thoughts on the Hernandez case.)
That issue has been put to rest, at least for now, and Brady's concern is teaching the new pups in Patriots camp his old tricks.
"We haven't played football in 7-8 months, so timing is an issue and you're just trying to get your timing down with the [new] players and it's a work in progress...You can't slow down for one player. The train's moving at this point.'' he said Friday in another brilliant example of Patriot-speak.
But at age 36, Brady's train keeps a rolling.
Brady has made a career thriving on and overcoming low expectations, starting when was taken 199th overall as the seventh QB taken in the 2000 draft only to become a Super Bowl champion and MVP less than 22 months later. Counting Brady out when he's down and out is dangerous, as John Madden learned the hard way in front a few hundred million people during the final two minutes of Super Bowl XXXVI.
It's when Brady is thought to have the least opportunity when he often performs best. And that seems to work the other way around. His most memorable losses - Super Bowls XLII, XLVI and last January's AFC title game - came with the Patriots and Brady as solid favorites both among odds-makers, the general public and football intelligentsia.
Higher-than-normal expectations won't be an issue with Brady or the Patriots this season.
While Brady's offense remains a "work in progress" on his birthday, his talent and track record leave little doubt he'll have enough working by Week 1 to justify the Patriots as a consensus pick to win the AFC East. He's turned a lot of mediocre receivers into Wes Welkers, including Welker. The legendary Aaron Dobson should be looking like Jerry Rice by Columbus Day.
So there's plenty of hope for Danny Amendola.
And anyone else counting on Brady to win.
Don't forget to visit our Obnoxious Boston Fan blog. As always, let us know what you think. Post your thoughts here, on our Obnoxious Boston Fan Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The author is solely responsible for the content.