Well, so much for the Super Bowl. I know you can’t win them all, but I’m still pretty salty about how that played out. So let’s not talk about it. Instead, let’s talk about my new favorite show, Tom vs. Time.
If you haven’t seen it, Tom vs. Time is a Tom Brady documentary on Facebook Watch, which is Facebook’s version of TV. I guess Brady couldn’t get a deal on a more legitimate platform, like Crackle, but maybe that’ll come with season two.
I’m all in on this show, mostly because Brady and I have so much in common. We’re both hunky 40-year-olds who can’t run very fast and have hot wives. Yeah, the particulars are a little bit different—he’s 66 days older than I am—but I feel like TB12 and I face a lot of the same questions. How do you stay in shape as you get older? What should you be eating? How many nannies and staff should you bring to Costa Rica to watch the kids while you go surfing with a Brazilian supermodel? Thankfully, we have Tom vs. Time to provide some answers.
Don’t be alarmed when you start the show and are confronted by its bizarrely sinister opening graphics and music. When I fired up the first episode, I wondered if I’d made a mistake and started a documentary about a serial killer: “The Dimpled Dismemberer lured victims with his charming smile and ability to throw tight 40-yard spirals right out of the no-huddle offense.” The dour opener almost makes Brady look like a villain. Which, outside of New England, I suppose he is.
I was hoping the show would reveal the practical methods behind Brady’s utter immunity to aging, but Tom vs. Time never gets too granular on the training side of things. From what I gather from the show, the secret to long-term physical health is to run sprints while a guy with a man-leash tries to hold you back. Oh, and drink nothing but blueberry smoothies. And get weird massages from your trainer. That would be Alex Guerrero, Brady’s body coach. Guerrero’s methods are, shall we say, unorthodox, in that his massages look like fights. He goes to town on Brady’s quad like a guy trying to sand his phone number off the wall of a truck-stop restroom, while Brady flails his legs in the manner of a drowning man being attacked by a squid. I’m not sure how I’d even request such a massage, but the first step would probably involve going to one of those places that’s open unusually late.
The show is less about Brady’s physical prowess than about his work ethic and motivation, his constant striving for self-improvement. Gisele is an interesting partner in this, because she simultaneously encourages and reassures him while also exuding a strong “Could you retire already?” vibe. To that end, the Costa Rican surf scene is followed by Brady sweeping snow off his truck and visibly shivering as he begins his drive to Gillette. (It is disconcerting to see him sit in traffic, like some kind of normal.) Yet the only way Brady will retire early is if he hurts himself driving RZRs or riding Alpine slides or hurling big rocks off a mountainside, all of which we see him doing in Tom vs. Time. We can be reasonably sure that Brady won’t be the guy who breaks his hand in a fight outside the Squire, but he might be the guy who tears an ACL in a freak pogo stick accident. I’m just glad Jordan’s Furniture closed its trapeze school.
Brady says he tries to tune out the haters, but Tom vs. Time is liberally seasoned with audio clips of various pundits casting doubt on his abilities. So we can infer that he derives motivation from the doubt. In fact, I might hire some angry strangers to tell me that I suck. Oh wait, that happens already. One reader said that my writing made him want to, “Get up on my roof, tie a fishing line around my testicles, tie the other end to a branch, and jump off the roof.” Oh yeah? Listen, buddy. The joke’s on you, because I live by the code of TB12, and saying stuff like that is only going to make me write twice as hard.
If there’s an optimistic message here, it’s that we can get smarter as we get older. “I wish I was doing at 22 years old what I’ve been doing for the past 10 years,” Brady says. “I didn’t know any better.” Me either. When I was 22, I screwed up my shoulder because I thought it was a good idea to repeatedly throw a football over my house, airing out passes to people standing in the street out front. OK, fine—that wasn’t when I was 22. That was this year. And yeah, I’m bragging. Look, not everybody gets smarter as they get older. But I bet it’s nothing a few blueberry smoothies can’t fix. ◆
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