Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.
His 2007 season is arguably the best of all-time, his three Super Bowl wins are matched by only three other quarterbacks in the history of the league, and at the age of 34, he’s already thrown for more completions than Troy Aikman, more yards than Jim Kelly and more touchdowns than Joe Montana.
No matter how many amazing, logic-defying performances Tom Brady strings together, NFL fans outside the state of Massachusetts just can’t seem to get behind this guy and, whether they explicitly say so or not, most of them would rather see him fall flat on his face than engineer yet another of his picture-perfect, touchdown-scoring drives.
Here’s why this generation’s quintessential winner also has the most surprisingly undersized fan club.
Tom Brady is the most visible component of a New England dynasty that in the last 10 years alone has accomplished more than most NFL franchises have in their entire existence, and for most NFL fan bases, they’ve seen just about enough.
Brady and the Patriots famously won three Super Bowls in four seasons at the beginning of last decade then appeared in another one in which they lost just a few years back (shortly after completing the first 16-0 regular season in NFL history too, let’s not forget).
There are still four teams in the league who’ve never even been to the Super Bowl (Houston, Jacksonville, Cleveland and Detroit), plus another 15 teams who’ve been to three or less Super Bowls in their entire franchise history, plus another five teams who’ve been to as many title games as the Patriots but won less than three of them.
Scores of NFL fans want Tom Brady to fail, then, simply because they’re tired of seeing him win so darn much, they feel it’s time for someone new to take over, and they feel that the last thing Boston sports fans deserve is yet another major championship to cram in their collective trophy case.
Many NFL fans want Brady to fail because they don’t think he’s as good as his professional resume would have you believe.
The Patriots under Bill Belichick have proven time and again that no individual player is too crucial to success, after all, and that as long as each player understands his role, you could plug just about anyone into their “system” and the result would probably be the same.
Whether it’s true or not makes no difference, as Brady will still retire as one of the most successful players in NFL history regardless, but there’s no denying Brady has always had the support of a competent offensive line, a capable defense and one of the best coaches in the history of the game in Bill Belichick.
It sure doesn’t help things either knowing that Brady’s former backup Matt Cassel thrived when taking over for him in 2008 (11 wins and an 89.4 passer rating, better than what Brady posted the year he won his first Super Bowl), then switched teams and has been disappointing fans in Kansas City ever since (14-17 over three seasons with a 79.7 passer rating).
When Tom Brady is playing at his best, it looks like he’s not even trying. It’s not a bad thing, but his performances are often so predictably flawless it gives the larger NFL fan base little to be excited about.
NFL fans cheer loudest when their team overcomes adversity. They want their team to come up big when it matters most, and they want their quarterbacks to lead their teams to victory in the closing seconds, when everything’s on the line. They want them to shake off the pain, put their heart and soul into it and find a way to win. They want a hero.
In other words, they don't want to see some completion robot just slowly annihilating his competition for 60 consecutive minutes.
It’s not that Brady hasn’t played the hero before (pretty often, in fact), it’s simply that when fans think of Tom Brady, that’s not what they see. They see a guy calmly standing in the pocket behind a wall of linemen, patiently waiting for a receiver to break free, then casually tossing him the ball once the time is right. They see a man with all the time in the world to make the easiest play they’ve ever seen, and they start to wonder to themselves if even they could have made that pass if they had the time he had.
Brady often dominates opponents to the point that even he seems bored. Most games he plays in seem like a mismatch.
Is it any surprise that the rest of us are bored too?
Not that there’s anything wrong with it and not that it hasn’t worked out perfectly well for him anyway, but Tom Brady isn’t exactly a man’s man (at least not in the traditional sense that the game of football perfectly embodies), and many NFL fans want to see him fail just because they dislike the image he projects.
Brady is a metrosexual. He’s a pretty boy. His changing hairstyles and GQ cover spreads might help him win over some fans on Madison Avenue, but they really don’t resonate with the typically chauvinistic, Alpha Male NFL fans known to inhabit football stadiums across the country every week, nor are they historically representative of the kind of guy that plays smash-mouth, tackle football for a living.
Most football fans would love to have Brady on their team, but few would want to hang out with this guy in their spare time. Some would, but for the NFL mainstream, Brady is just a little too Justin Bieber and not enough Hank Williams (the Hank Williams who drinks beer with his buddies on Monday nights, that is, not the one who babbles on like a crazy person from time to time).
Now that he’s the official spokesperson for UGG boots too, this is a stigma Brady clearly won’t be shaking any time soon.
Tom Brady will always be closely linked with his coach Bill Belichick, and to most NFL fans, that’s a very bad thing.
Nobody questions the genius of Bill Belichick. Everybody knows he’s one of the best coaches in the history the game, and virtually everyone’s team has been his victim at one point or another in his storied 26-year career.
But that doesn’t mean we’re all rooting for the guy or anything.
As far as NFL fans are concerned, Bill Belichick is a total jerk and deserves to lose every single game he plays just for being such a bad person. In real life, he might be the nicest guy you’d ever meet. In the NFL public arena, however, he’s the scowling, Grinch-like, pissed-off father figure best known for cutting the sleeves off all his sweatshirts for no apparent reason, being a poor sport whenever he loses and blatantly cheating to secure an unfair advantage.
He’s the coach we all love to hate, no matter how much we also respect him, and as long as Tom Brady is his starting quarterback (which Brady has been his entire career), we’ll all be hoping Tom Brady also goes down in flames right beside him.
Humans have an inherent bias to root for the underdog, and as a result of all the success Brady experienced early in his career, he hasn’t been considered a true “underdog” for close to a decade now.
At this point, you just expect Brady to win. Including the playoffs, he’s won over 77 percent of all his career games across 12 seasons. He’s beaten every team but his own along the way, he’s gone 14-5 in the postseason and his team has been Vegas’s Super Bowl favorite heading into four of the last five seasons.
Of course people want to see him fail.
Imagine if the top-ranked college basketball team won the NCAA Tournament every year. Would March Madness even exist?
Imagine if the New York Yankees only won the World Series every now and then. Would anyone still hate them the way they do today?
Tom Brady has established himself as a perennial winner.
It’s only natural to want to see him lose.