OPINION: Wait, when did Tom Brady become actually likeable?


Six-time NFL champion quarterback Tom Brady gestures during a photoshoot for his new team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Tribune News Service

As a young child, there were just two things I truly despised — spiders and Tom Brady. I still shudder at the sight of anything eight-legged and hairy, though I eventually let go of the resentment I had for the Patriots’ long-time frontman and newly-minted savior of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

In fact, I daresay I have learned to admire him.

To some, the thought of liking Brady is heresy. I should know. Having been born in Atlanta, witnessing the Falcons bungle a 25-point lead over the Patriots in Super Bowl LI was like watching the climax of "Old Yeller" on repeat for two quarters plus overtime. 

It took a lot of emotional growth for me to think of Brady as anything other than an unsettlingly handsome bogeyman. Alas, the key to finally overcoming your fear of another person for good is to realize they are totally harmless. Not only is Brady far from a maniacal villain, he is essentially just a really weird guy.

Of course, a lot of us already knew this. Brady himself has divulged his strange diet devoid of sugar and salt and that he sleeps in specially crafted pajamas, but neither of these are too extraordinary for a professional athlete.

Sure, Brady’s love of Ugg boots is a bit out of left field, but frankly, I wish more stars would follow this curious trend of brand loyalty. Half of the NBA laces up in Nikes, but I won’t be satisfied until I see LeBron James throw down a windmill in a pair of Crocs. 

Who cares if Brady wears Uggs? If "Catfish" taught us anything, it’s that there are far worse ways grown men have impersonated 13-year-old girls. 

No, it isn’t these largely publicized idiosyncrasies that make Brady redeemable. Instead, it’s the blink-and-you-miss-it organic glimpses into Brady’s life that rattle viewers.

For instance, Twitter had a field day when the 2018 documentary "Tom vs Time" showed Brady kissing his son on the lips while receiving a massage. Thousands pointed out how abnormal this was, while several Bostonians silently stewed in jealousy, doubtlessly wishing they could be in the child’s position. 

However, sometimes Brady is the one making jokes. In a video tweeted April 22, he summons former teammate Rob Gronkowski by blowing into an oversized conch like a scene out of "Lord of the Rings." You can enjoy more of Brady’s auditory stylings in a 2017 Funny or Die sketch that features the quarterback recreating sounds such as seagull noises, thunder storms and whale mating calls.

For a while, Brady’s transition into the world of lighthearted comedic vignettes merely puzzled me further. I waited for the big reveal, to discover that Brady is part of a secret society that has been influencing global politics for centuries while maintaining their endless youth through occultist rituals. 

But what ultimately sold me on Brady’s renaissance was the seventh hole of his golf match versus Peyton Manning on May 24, when Brady’s pants tore as he bent down to retrieve a ball.

Suddenly, there were two cracks I could not ignore, one of which ran through my very psyche. Any lingering bitterness I felt toward Brady instantly evaporated. I simply lack the energy to detest somebody when he has been brought so low on live television. 

Maybe I still have minor doubts about Brady’s transformation. I worry what havoc he could wreak if he used his obsessive habits and clinical mind for nefarious purposes.

Fortunately, the only things Brady is slaughtering in cold blood are outmatched defenses and the hopes of countless fans. If that’s the worst he does while simultaneously providing years of entertainment, I cannot help but appreciate him. 

All it took for me to understand this was a poorly stitched pair of slacks. As I gazed upon Brady’s rear end, I believed the rip in his trousers was a window into his soul. In that moment, I knew no matter how many trophies Brady collects, he is just as human as you and I.

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