I never thought I would say this, but Tom Brady is one of my heroes. The Dark Knight ends with Captain Jim Gordon saying Batman is “the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now.” Tom Brady is Batman, but in real life.
Never have I considered myself a fan of Brady. I was always more of a fan of Peyton Manning and his Colts’ teams growing up, and since I lived in Colorado and liked the Broncos, I was always rooting against Brady and the New England Patriots. In fact, I think I hate the Patriots more than I like any team in the NFL. I would love for the Broncos to win the Super Bowl every year, but that doesn’t really matter so long as the Patriots don’t win it. (Sadly, they seem to win every year or two.)
Over the years, I have come to have a deep respect for Brady, but I have never liked him. To still be playing in the NFL at age 42 and to still be leading his teams to the Super Bowl is remarkable. He is indubitably the greatest quarterback of all-time with six Super Bowl championships and three MVP awards, yet I root against him every single time and am also scared that he will rip my heart out every game.
This offseason, there was a lot of speculation about where Brady would play next season. It seems shocking that the Patriots would let Brady leave the team after he has been the face of the franchise for the past 20 years and done so much for the team. However, the Patriots have always parted ways with players before they had to earn more money or their performance declined (an approach that seems to work out really well for them); Brady is the latest example of this.
In a time where sports literally do not exist anymore, Brady perfectly timed his announcement that he was parting ways with the Patriots (which likely was a mutual agreement where the Patriots were unwilling to pay him what he wanted). All of the sports talk shows now have content to talk about for the next few weeks as they analyze every possible angle about the greatness of Brady as a player, the Patriots franchise, Bill Belichick’s reign in New England, Brady’s new team and their Super Bowl odds, and whoever replaces Brady in New England. (I didn’t think of the angle about Brady being the greatest teammate because he asked for his teammates’ phone numbers.)
There are many heroes in the world today, and anyone in the medical field is obviously the hero that this world needs right now. Doctors and nurses risking their health or lives to help people in need are heroes. Athletes and owners helping pay for the salaries of hourly arena workers or Steph and Ayesha Curry pitching in to pay for the lunches of kids who rely on school lunch for food are the heroes we need right now.
Those are the heroes we need, but Tom Brady is the hero we deserve. I will not try to claim that sports are important in the grand scheme of things today, but they are an important part in the lives of so many people. For such people, the past week has been filled with sadness and lots of wondering about what to do with all of this free time. Tom Brady is the hero we deserve right now as he has given us something to talk about and helped the world feel a little bit more normal, at least temporarily.
Brady is also a genius for releasing his statement at a time where all sportswriters and fans are practicing social distancing, or at least they should be, and sitting on Twitter and Instagram for hours. He released the statement early in the morning so that people like me could wake up to the news, and this allowed all the morning talk shows to discuss Brady right away. (What else would they talk about, marble racing?) This is the type of sports content we deserve, something to talk about that doesn’t have to include coronavirus or the political response to the issues.
I love Tom Brady, and I never thought that was possible. I still will root against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but for a little while, I am grateful for something sports-related to talk about and obsess over while I sit at home with nothing to do.