Chief Opinions Editor
During the off-week before the Super Bowl members of the media usually grasp at straws for storylines to fill the long two weeks between Championship Sunday and Super Bowl Sunday. This go around, Tom Brady provided some intrigue with the release of his TB12 propaganda documentary, “Tom vs. Time” on Facebook Watch. For any Patriots fans that haven’t watched it yet, I highly recommend it. Aside from the obvious Under Armor promotions and the whacky health tips, it is an otherwise unprecedented and interesting look inside the life of a superstar athlete.
The Patriots are lauded for their organizational culture and “next-man-up” mentality, which makes it so surprising and unusual for a star to step into the limelight and do such a shameless and blatant self-promotion. Brady has diligently bought into Coach Bill Belicheck’s culture of selflessness, famously taking less money so the team could fill needs at other positions. However, in light of last month’s ESPN article by Seth Wickersham, it is difficult to think that this documentary is Brady’s way of rejecting the team culture in order to finally cash in on his hard earned fame. He really hasn’t done much in the way of endorsements or brand marketing before this year, when he launched a TB12 diet cookbook. It is evident that Tom’s post-retirement plans, whenever that may be, include the selling of this TB12 lifestyle whether it be through gyms, diet supplements, or physical therapy services.
Tom’s openness has sparked some debate in the local and national media over the past week, however and I believe it evokes one of the fundamental questions of the media. On WEEI, a local radio station in Boston, host Alex Reimer called Brady’s daughter “a little pissant.” The station and the Patriots organization have a longstanding contractual relationship which includes exclusive weekly appearances by Brady and Belicheck on the station. During Brady’s regular appearance on the “Kirk and Callahan Show” he addressed these comments. “I’ve tried to come on this show for many years and showed you guys a lot of respect,” Brady said. “I’ve always tried to come on and do a good job for you guys. It’s very disappointing when you hear that, certainly. My daughter, or any child, they certainly don’t deserve that.” Brady then hung up. Reimer has since been placed on indefinite suspension from the station. Brady said on Tuesday that he doesn’t want Reimer to lose his job at WEEI over the comments.
There’s no doubt that one of the goals of the documentary is to humanize Brady by showing his home life and his family. Right from the first episode, the children are featured in a large role. Much of the series is set in his mansion in Chestnut Hill, where he is shown playing and working out in the yard and interacting with his kids. It is obvious that this is a much more intimate and personal look at Tom Brady than we have ever seen before. Obviously, calling Brady’s daughter a “pissant” (definition: noun 1. an insignificant or contemptible person or thing) was uncalled for and inappropriate. That did not stop many from coming to the support of Reimer for his comments. In a story in the Boston Globe, Howard Stern weighed in and said, “But for God’s sake, Tom Brady should know better. If you’re going to put your young child on a TV show, on the Internet, you’re putting her out there for comment.” Stern is not condoning the language Reimer used, but merely the idea that if Brady opens himself and his family up to the public like this, then they are fair game for public comment. I agree with Stern’s argument. We criticize and cast stones on people we see on television all the time; it comes with the territory of being a celebrity. Tom cannot have his cake and eat it, too. Reimer should have avoided using such inappropriate language to describe his daughter. However, I vehemently defend his right to say what he wants on the radio without losing his job. What he did was wrong, but it was not a fireable offense. Brady will continue to go on WEEI every week because ultimately he is being paid to do so. Tom is not immune to criticism, even if he is a really good QB.