Tom Brady doesn’t look very happy these days

The Tecmo Bowl games at Tom Brady’s first apartment in Massachusetts You used to get so fierce and competitive that the loser would have to strip through the apartment quad. Brady himself has suffered this punishment at least once, running naked through the cold northeastern night among slices of pizza, cans of beer, and heaps of hot wings.

Yes, Tom Brady was once a regular, playing “Tecmo Bowl”, and devouring wings, just like many of his fans. It was a rough time for him, those early months in New England, the days before he took over as Tom Brady. Back then, in the last few weeks before going national, then international, Brady could just relax and enjoy life… for a few minutes at a time, at least.

Beneath the rear ball cap, the exterior of the Ax body sprayer beat an unsatisfied driven core, even at the time. As Seth Wickersham notes in his book Better to be Feared, his extraordinary autobiography on Brady and Bill Belichick—which includes the anecdote of the “Tecmo” line above—even then Brady was a relentless worker, arriving at the stadium at 6 a.m. Leave at 7 p.m. for dinner at the apartment, then return at 9:30 p.m. to study a movie or throw balls at the training facility late at night.

Brady spent his entire early life trying to prove others wrong, trying to live up to an absurd ideal of himself. In high school, he vowed to play college ball. In Michigan, he vowed to make his name among the greats. One evening in New England, team owner Robert Kraft—who had mistakenly called him “Kyle”—told him, “It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, and it’s your choice of me.”

Of course, he was right. Brady hit all his tags — surpassing them, really, by such a wide and incomprehensible margin that he’s the undisputed goat in the NFL. Seven episodes with two different teams, an MVP-caliber player playing against players two decades younger than him, all the fame, adulation, and approval a human could want…at least, in theory.

The thing is, when your entire existence depends on you proving people wrong, what happens when there’s no need to? What do you do when everyone recognizes that you are the absolute best? When you reach the top of the mountain, the only person still there to fight is yourself.

There’s a meme going on right now It shows a pale Brady, sunken cheeks next to a wide-eyed Saturn, circling consciousness, Aaron Rodgers. “It’s not worth it guys,” says the meme, “They ate ice cream.”

On the one hand, it’s a cheap laugh at what two of the best players ever in football have done for themselves at this late stage in their careers, from drastic diets to… Mind-changing improvementsthey deprive themselves of the simple pleasures in life, such as ice cream … and perhaps wings, pizza and the “Tecmo Bowl”.

On another level, it’s sad as hell, too. It’s a look at what you have to give up to be the best, and how much you have to give up on yourself in order to conquer any demons raging within you. Look at Brady’s behavior here as he walks Sunday’s game against New Orleans Saints:

This is a guy who looks mentally and physically exhausted. And it’s only the second week! What should be a celebratory career victory looks a lot like a flat.

Brady won that match the same way he won First week marquee showdown against the Dallas Cowboys: Uncompromising professionalism, matched by signs, exhibiting the same amount of passion and effort as a concert pianist playing “Chopsticks”. The only real times he showed fire on a Sunday in New Orleans was when The saints got a chibior when Bucs engines fail:

Brady may or may not have marital problems. If you believe the tabloid media and “sources close to” wife Gisele, all is not well in the Brady house, and it hasn’t been since he decided to quit last spring. Regardless, Brady was dealing with “personal” issues off the field – his words – and peeked behind the curtain when he returned from a long training absence, looking skewed and exhausted: “I’m 45, man. There’s a lot of things going on.”

Just this weekend, word came out Brady will be exempted from Wednesday’s practice Throughout the season, a very unusual arrangement. Brady has enough episodes he can do whatever he pleases – he’ll probably only appear on Sundays and still beat half the teams in the league without even knowing the names of his teammates – but when the man who once worked from before dawn to long after him was . Sunset begins to take entire days off, and somewhere along the line something important has changed.

Marital issues are none of the business but the Bradys family. The problem is Tom Brady that man is now in direct conflict with the Tom Brady Foundation. Like the Rolling Stones, Tom Brady is not just a human, but a whole project of himself – a Super Bowl-caliber quarterback, a future Fox Sports personality with a third-billion dollar contract. And so, like the Rolling Stones, Brady must put aside any personal issues he might have while continuing to play Tom Brady. He has already invested a lot in it. The beast must be fed, even if Brady jumped on Wednesday.

No matter what happens in his personal life, Brady has a long and difficult road ahead. Driven by forces that those standing in the stands can’t even imagine, every professional athlete faces the moment when the road ends. Brady has stopped him the most, but the end is coming, no matter how angry he is against it. He’ll need to figure out how to lose this last fight gracefully because the fight against time is one that not even Tom Brady can win.

Brady may still have something to prove to himself, something he still needs to achieve greatness in his mind. If he does, he’s the only one on earth who still needs convincing.

NEW ORLEANS, LA - SEPTEMBER 18: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up before playing the New Orleans Saints at the Caesars Superdome on September 18, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

NEW ORLEANS, LA – SEPTEMBER 18: Tom Brady #12 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers warms up before playing the New Orleans Saints at the Caesars Superdome on September 18, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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Connect with Jay Busbee at jay.busbee@yahoo.com or on Twitter at jaybusbee.