I don’t want any of the contents of this post to confuse people, so let me clear the air right now: I hate Tom Brady’s guts. I’ve often accused him of perpetuating an image of the All-American Golden Boy, and I’ve accused him of reaching his stature despite having never paid a single due in his life. But those are, of course, my critical theorist observations which I yanked from the air to try to explain why society in general hates Tom Brady. I use those as excuses to mask the fact that there’s no real good, obvious reason to hate Brady and that my need to kick him to a curbside is completely irrational outside of football. I look for excuses, because Brady himself sucks at providing excuses to hate him. I hate him more for that.
Tom Brady has taken the Patriots to their fifth Super Bowl during his tenure as their starting quarterback, and he’ll be staring down his Super Bowl opponents from 2007: The New York Giants. Brady is the star player for an archrival of the Buffalo Bills, which gives me reason enough to want to see his smug prettyboy head get clanged and dented a few times. I don’t need another reason to hate Tom Brady. But I’ll be parting ways with the Bills soon. Its been a wonderful run with them, but I find a lot of their current practices inexcusable and I officially began the process of detaching myself from them a couple of years ago. Once they leave, the team most likely to fill the void will be the New York Giants, so it isn’t like I need another reason to cheer for them. It’s an almost perfect love/hate matchup for me. If only the Bears had been Brady’s antagonists this year.
People in Buffalo hate Tom Brady because he carves up the Bills like a pumpkin twice every football season. And considering how much I hate him personally, it’s saying something that today, I’m writing to defend him. As I mentioned, Brady is actually a really good guy in person, and between his All-American sheen and the secrecy of the Patriots, the media spin machine has to invent every excuse it uses to rile sports fans into a healthy, frothing anti-Brady rage. The media has done this job well over the last week and taken two harmless comments Brady made and spin them out of control.
The first was a comment Brady made at a pep rally in New England. Addressing the crowd, Brady said “I wish I could take all you guys to Indy with us. We’re going down there, and we’re going down there for one reason. We’re going to give it our best, and hopefully we have a lot more people at our party next weekend.” That final clause is actually pretty harmless. Brady is not the kind of guy who runs around talking shit about his opponents, bragging about how much better he is. That clause is more a statement of hope for Brady, who lost several games to the Giants in the past; in the 2007 Super Bowl, it was the Giants who wrecked New England’s dream of the only perfect season in the 16-game era. During that game, Brady was physically abused and beat up in ways most quarterbacks aren’t used to, and mentally terrorized in a way I’ve never seen any quarterback endure in 15 years of watching football. If anything, that sentence was a humble tip of the hat to an opponent Brady knows is fully capable of slamming him to the turf again. But the New York City media wasn’t concentrating on the fact that Brady, at best, was hoping for a win. Instead, they took the part about a lot more people showing up at next weekend’s party and whirled up some bullshit about him making a guarantee.
A few days later, Brady talked with glowing admiration about how his parents supported him and flew out to see him wherever he played. Of his father, Tom Brady Sr., Brady said, “Even when I started my pro career, (Tom Sr.) traveled to Buffalo. I don’t know if you guys have ever been to the hotels in Buffalo – they’re not the nicest places in the world – but he would still travel to those.” That whole comment would have been instantly forgotten the instant he said it – in 99 percent of the country, it in fact probably was – had he not tossed in the backhanded reference to Buffalo.
When Brady made that remark, I shrugged it off like a lake effect snowflake. This is Buffalo, after all, a city in such dire shape that a onetime starting quarterback for the Bills, Rob Johnson, slammed the place in a nasty tirade on how boring Buffalo is. When his interviewer asked if it was really that bad, Johnson replied “Ever been there?” The Bills fielded a Hall of Fame quarterback in the 80’s and 90’s, Jim Kelly, who – while never a top-tenner – frequently shows up in the top percentage of quarterbacking greats. While Kelly is long retired and now keeps house in Buffalo, at the time of his draft in 1983 he was so pissed off about being exiled to Buffalo that he walked out of the NFL and played his first two years of professional football with the Houston Gamblers, a team in an unproven upstart league. He came crawling back to the Bills only because there were no other options. Both incidents are long forgotten.
That’s why Buffalo’s reaction at Brady’s offhand remark was so difficult to fathom. This is Buffalo, a city that prides itself on toughness. With our image, it takes toughness to live here. But when Brady commented on the sorry state of our hotel industry, the city jumped down his throat with an indignant hatred I would have earlier only ascribed to Chicagoans bitching about how Chicago will never be as awesome as New York City. The reaction was insane, topped out by a local radio station holding a ceremonial burning of Tom Brady shirts. All over a comment on hotels which Buffalo natives probably don’t stay in very often.
Let’s not kid ourselves. That petulant overreaction happened because Buffalo hates Tom Brady. We’ve heard much worse, and had Brady still been a third-stringer, we would have shrugged it off like it came from Curtis Painter. I’m ashamed to say that Buffalo lost enough of its composure to necessitate an apology by Brady. No, Tom. If anything, I’m sorry this proud beacon to roughneck-tumble character threw a hissy fit over something so mundane. Even OJ Simpson – another former Bill, by the way – never endured our wrath like that.