We should all have it so bad
INDIANAPOLIS — The man with the pretty hair is talking about adversity. He's grinded through a lot of it, he says, and dozens of people whose job it is to listen are nodding their heads. Some of them take notes.
Tom Brady is talking about his many adversities with a straight face, and somehow, if the reactions of the people in this room count for anything, he is not joking. He means this sincerely. He has been slighted. Honest. Not just him, either. The whole team.
"We've overcome quite a few things," Brady is saying. "Quite a few adversities to get us here."
This is the language of sports, of course, and we've come to hear it so often that it doesn't even sound ridiculous to hear about adversity from a good-looking guy who grew up in a nice suburban house in California, graduated from Michigan, has already made more than $100 million, won three Super Bowls and built a $20 million mansion to live in with the Brazilian supermodel for whom he dumped a Hollywood actress.
But here he is, anyway, talking about adversity and the memory of his biggest failure — revenge against the Giants for the Super Bowl four years ago will finally be his! — and it only sounds sane if you're able to ignore reality.
This is one half of the world's highest-paid celebrity couple, in case you're curious, so shouldn't we all have these troubles?
The worst thing that can be said about Brady is that he willingly chose to endorse Uggs, but even that takes on a vibe of flaunting success when he can just point to the scoreboard of life. No matter what happens in the Super Bowl on Sunday, one of the lasting memories of Brady's remarkable career will be of him, in tears, remembering the horror of dropping to the sixth round of the 2000 draft.
Left unsaid is the part about Brady receiving a long list of advantages growing up, or about the Hall of Fame coach who believed in him enough to dump the injured franchise quarterback.
For a man who won his first Super Bowl at the age of 24, crying — literally — about the draft 12 years ago is something like Jay-Z bawling because Beyonce didn't marry him sooner.
Michael Jordan famously showed his nasty side during his Hall of Fame speech by rubbing the faces of slights both real and perceived, most notably the high school coach who "cut" him, even if, well, he didn't really get cut at all — only placed on the junior varsity as a sophomore.
Guys, you won. Enjoy the party.
This is one of sports' most time-honored traditions, of course. Everybody's an underdog. Everybody had to fight, even the magazine cover boy who grew up working with one of the country's great quarterback coaches before accepting a scholarship to one of the country's great football powers.
The problem isn't that these men draw motivation from a world they invented. Making it to this level requires a certain amount of delusion and an unnatural drive. Your favorite hype song can only do so much, so if ignoring gifts and focusing on slights helps find greatness, then who are we to argue?
So, sure. If Brady wants to pretend that being drafted in the sixth round by a model franchise is the same as being kicked in the ear, then good for him.
The problem is that the rest of us have been beaten into submission by this stuff and now accept it as reality.
One of the story lines here is which quarterback is under more pressure. The Super Bowl is a big game, of course, the biggest, watched by 100 million people in 225 countries. People will remember what happens for years. Eli Manning reportedly told his teammatesthat his brother couldn't talk about anything else three months after losing Super Bowl XLIV.
That's enough to get the adrenaline pumping, yes.
But isn't pressure a relative thing?
If Brady throws four interceptions and sprains an ankle on Sunday, he's still a three-time Super Bowl champion, still a Hall of Famer, and when he goes home, his real-world adversity will include remembering where in his 22,000-square-foot house he left his car keys and deciding in which of his eight bedrooms he'd like to lie down with his Victoria's Secret model wife.
Maybe we should be the ones crying.