Last night, before the kickoff of Super Bowl 50 the NFL did this great thing where they brought out all of the Super Bowl MVPs from all of the previous Super Bowls. It was kind of awesome.
There was this great moment when you got to see all of these football heroes - living legends for fans of the sport - names like Terry Bradshaw and Marcus Allen and Franco Harris and Lynn Swan. Names that soar in the mind of any football fan. And then out comes Joe Montana...and it's huge because they announce his three MVPs all at once and it's just kind of amazing. Three MVPs. Wow. What a career. People in San Francisco go crazy because he's a Forty Niner. It's nice.
A few minutes later, they announce the only other three time MVP. Who could that be? As it turns out its a player who grew up in the Bay Area and idolozed Joe Montana. Tom Brady. What a legacy! To also have three MVPs and take the field with your hero. Except when they called Tom Brady's name, the stands filled with a chorus of boos. It sounded awful on TV. I read that it was worse if you were there.
And I felt pretty badly for Tom Brady in that moment.
I know, I know. Poor handsome rich white boy! He's going to have to go home and cry on a pile of money and his naked supermodel wife! Waaaaahhhh.
(and yes, I know they were mostly Carolina and Denver fans and they also booed Deion Branch and for some reason Joe Flacco? But still.)
I can't speak for Tom Brady, but if I was being honored on the same field as my idol, I'd feel pretty rotten if I got booed in front of him. Luckily, most of my idols are fictional characters, so I'm not in real danger there. But I couldn't help but remember that just about thirteen months ago, no one had ever questioned Tom Brady's integrity for any reason. Not in elementary school. Not in high school. Not in college, and certainly not in the pros.
Lady Castleton thinks Tom Brady brings it on himself. That he comes off like he thinks he's better than everyone. That he dresses kind of douchey. That his on-field antics seem at least, sophomoric and at worst, classless. That maybe his wife's foreign sensibilities about what a man should and shouldn't be are hurting his brand inside a more conservative American market. Maybe all that is true.
But a couple hours later, Peyton Manning (who I was rooting for in the game) starts spouting off about Budweiser and I just shake my head. If Tom Brady did that he'd be crucified. Like, literally tied to a cross and murdered. As it turns out, Manning wasn't being compensated by Budweiser, but he apparently owns some Anheuser-Busch distributorships in Louisiana. I've always liked Peyton, and the rivalry with the Patriots, but that's just fucking gross. Truly gross. Here is this storybook moment where he gets an all-time win record and goes out on top (through almost no contribution of his own) and then he decides to shill? That's heinous, man. That's fucking awful.
People can't stop telling me what an asshole Tom Brady is, even though I never hear him say anything that isn't complimentary about his opponents. Even though I've listened to a decade and a half of press conferences and weekly radio interviews and the like and I've never heard him attack or malign a single soul. When asked about people like Terrell Suggs who hates Brady and calls him an asshole publicly, he says what a 'phenomenal' player Suggs is. He does that all the time. I know he shoots his mouth off on the field and I know his antics can piss people off while he's playing, but so do many other players without having the reputation fallout Brady has.
Is it Deflategate? A sham of supernatural proportions that has never been shown to have proven anything? A witch hunt that cleared the New England Patriots administration and coaching staff of any wrongdoing and then docked them a first round draft pick and a million dollars for the trouble? Even the New York Times has weighed in on what a miscarriage of justice this has been. The NFL has taken PSI measurements all season but refuses to publicize any of them. My god. I feel like I'm taking crazy pills. And all of that has left the impression in people's minds that Tom Brady is a cheater.
So he gets booed.
I don't know Tom Brady personally. To me, he just seems like kind of a run of the mill guy who's a little bit of a dork and just has some amazing skill in football. He doesn't say asshole to me at all, but I know that radiates with a lot of people. They seem to want to believe he's "bad" as much as I want to defend that he's "good". But, even in the aftermath of Deflategate, when Roger Goodell single-handedly destroyed Tom Brady's reputation and legacy, when Brady was asked if he respected Goodell, he replied that of course he did. No ad hominem attacks. No lashing out (ever). I've never seen Tom Brady take any road but the high road, so I always wonder what the hell people are looking at to make their decisions about him.
It doesn't matter. There are a disturbing amount of people who still believe that all the Patriots do is cheat. Okay, fine. It used to be Bill Belichick who was the presumptive Dark Lord of the Sith. Now it's Tom Brady, apparently. He brought his team back this season in the AFC championship two weeks ago against that amazing Denver defense and was foiled on the two point conversion. How did he cheat then? How did he cheat all season or any season before that? It's all kind of sickening to me.
And really, it's sad.
It's sad that a three time MVP like Joe Montana is held up on high and a three time MVP like Tom Brady who has surpassed so many of Montana's records is laid low.
It's sad that Peyton Manning is such a douche that he can't just be human during a beautiful storybook NFL moment. How much goddamn money is enough, Peyton? How does your mind even consider money at a time like that? Is money all you care about? Because last I checked, Tom Brady was paid less that 70% of the quarterbacks in the league. He gave the Patriots a discount so they could spend the money on other players. Honestly! Why doesn't Brady get credit for that? Look at this! He makes slightly more than Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III because those are their ROOKIE CONTRACTS.
And how did he play this season at that discounted price tag? Well, I'm still trying to figure out how Cam Newton won the MVP nearly unanimously over him. Cam: 30 Votes. Brady: 1. Carson Palmer: 1.
Can someone explain to me how this was such a slam dunk?
Maybe I just can't see the forest for the trees. I'm saying that all eyes were watching Tom Brady this season looking for him to cheat. He threw 'undeflated' balls. He was watched like a hawk. And how did he play?
MVP level. I feel like that alone should exonerate him. I feel like the only black mark against him was a trumped up witch hunt that has been shown to have been a complete crock. I don't know how anyone can see what Tom Brady did on the field against that amazing Broncos defense and boo him. If you're a football fan and you see him take punishment like that and still bring his team back, how are you not impressed?
Who the fuck else is performing like that? Look at Peyton, who is a year older than Tom. He looks like absolute chicken fried shit on the field. Brady threw for more touchdowns in the Super Bowl last year against the Seahawks defense than Peyton threw in his four Super Bowl appearances combined! Brady is taking less money, being roundly attacked in the media, and playing at an MVP level. Oh, and in every Super Bowl he's played in he's put the Patriots ahead in the fourth quarter. The two they lost were when he was watching from the sidelines.
But I think that people just kind of don't like Tom Brady and that's what we're dealing with here. They think he thinks he's too cool for school. They see him head butting his teammates and acting like an insane person as he gets fired up and they're like "act like you've been there before, asshole." I get that. "We think he's a douche, Lord Castleton, because he acts like a douche."
When I look at things like that I see a guy coming to the end of his playing days and keeping a fire burning in a way that makes him special. I see a guy closer to the end than the beginning, still playing at an obscenely high level. I see a man coming face to face with the absolute certainty that all of this is about to end. I also see the community service he does and I know his heart is in the right place. I know people that actually know him and actually hang out with him I've never heard anything but praise. Like, not a single solitary word other than he's personable and down to earth and just a soft-spoken, easy going, great guy.
The general concensus has not been kind to Tom Brady, but he's a human being and I can't shake the feeling that he's being unfairly judged. He doesn't seem to get enough credit and takes too much of the blame. I think I understand how he has become a lightning rod for controversy and how having a fashionista as a partner probably isn't endearing him to people for a number of reasons. If you want to mock or dislike Tom Brady for his fashion sense or his perceived aloofness or his wealth or his marriage, that's fine.
But if you consider yourself even a moderately knowledgable fan of the game of football, Tom Brady should never be booed in any football stadium. Ever.