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Tom Brady made a website for his TB Times cartoons, and they’re *maybe* starting to make sense?

The plot thickens.

The dots might not be actually connecting, but they are starting to appear in a pattern that might someday yield a picture.

Yes, folks, that’s right: Tom Brady released another edition of the TB Times yesterday. We missed a week when New England lost to the Dolphins, but on Sunday, the Patriots beat the Steelers thanks to an overruled touchdown and the fact that no one in the National Football League has any idea what a catch is.

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

I’m still pretty confused, but we are starting to see some common themes and characters within these comics that might eventually make some narrative sense. In the meantime, Brady, his Social Media Guy (S.M.G.), and the artist who draws these cartoons (D.K.), unveiled the website tbtimes.org, because these people seem determined to ruin my life. I’ll have more on that at the end of this post, but let’s analyze this week’s images (yes, there are two!) first.

We have to start with the missed one from the Dolphin’s loss last week:

For the first time ever, Brady, S.M.G. and D.K. released the comic that would’ve run last week had Jay Cutler and the Dolphins not smoked the Patriots in Miami. It once again features fidget spinners, and was slightly different from the one I drew last week at 1 a.m. as an embarrassed Patriots fan.

What do we know from this picture? A few things.

  • Brady and Croc have tracked down the Dolphins’ fidget spinner ring.
  • It turns out that Croc’s dreadlocks from the original Dolphins comic were a disguise. I am not sure what the disguise is supposed to be. But he can be seen here removing it after he and Brady wrestle the South Beach Spinners briefcase away from the Dolphin.
  • They then run to a secret lair, which still seems to be underwater, and open the briefcase.
  • I laughed at the time, but NESN Patriots reporter Doug Kyed was right when he sent me this text last week. The ramps of the Dolphins stadium really do look like fidget spinners.

Now let’s look at this week’s comic:

  • This is a riff on the movie Zoolander. Ben Stiller, AKA Ben Steeler, is doing his signature modeling move “blue steel,” which sort of makes sense in a word association-type way, given that Ben Roethlisberger is the quarterback of the Steelers. Brady says, “Steeler...so hot right now...” which is from this scene:
  • The turtle is back from the first Dolphins comic, but the grouper with pink hair isn’t. So is the Narwhal, who first rescued Brady in the comic that ran after the game against the Bucs, when he killed pirate skeletons with lasers.
  • Speaking of lasers, the plans inside the Dolphins’ briefcase appear to be for some sort of giant, inter-galactic laser.
  • Oh my god, do you think that because I’ve been imagining that the social media room underneath a TB12 workout facility looks like a lair, they drew a lair?
  • Sorry, I know this isn’t about me.
  • Is that guy wearing a lab coat by the picture of Ben Steeler Gronk?
  • Yes, because in the comic after the Houston win, Gronk showed up wearing that same lab coat. He’s also wearing glasses and says, “the computer data is telling me...”
  • Get it? It’s funny because Gronk is not generally seen as a rocket scientist. They were in space then. Now they’re underwater. Or possibly underground.
  • Bill Hader is back from the Bills comic. So is Billy Crystal, who appears on the front page of the TB Times that Hader is reading.
  • Hader is still wearing the outfit that I couldn’t place based on researching his IMDB catalogue.
  • The finger game (where you’re allowed to punch your friends if you get them to look at your hand as you do the A-OK symbol) appears again. It first showed up in the comic that ran after the Bills game. This time, you can see Billy Crystal’s hand doing that sign on the back of the TB Times.

QUESTIONS, THOUGHTS, A DESCENT INTO MADNESS

  • I’m still having trouble figuring out how the Jets, Broncos, Chargers, Saints, and Atlanta comics play into all this.
  • Who is Croc?
  • What is Croc?
  • Why is Croc?
  • Why is the TB Times team taking all these dude actors from bro movies when I was in high school and putting them into comics? We’ve got Chuck Norris in here, too. These read like Millennial fan fic from 2007.
  • When I lived in Boston in 2014, I noticed all the guys in their early 20s had lines from Wedding Crashers, Zoolander, Old School, etc. in their Tinder profiles. I wrote an article about it. Maybe that’s relevant here. Maybe it isn’t.
  • Why are we sometimes in space and sometimes underwater?
  • And why, in the underwater lair, is there a football with planetary rings around it?
  • Interesting theory from Twitter, c/o Robbie Vogel: “The alligator steals the top secret docs from the Dolphins and we find out they’re in possession of Steelers-themed military schematics - are we to assume this means the Dolphins know how to beat the steelers? Cuz it kinda makes sense, the last two times the Steelers and fins played (last year and 2013) the fish won.”
  • Will the show from the Bills comic, Bill’s Got Talent, come back?
  • Is the key that Croc was holding the key to winning the Super Bowl?
  • Are answers to this whole thing contingent on the Pats winning the Super Bowl?
  • If it is, and the Patriots don’t, and we never get answers, will I die?

TBTIMES.ORG

The plot thickens. Usually these comics just get posted to Instagram and Facebook, but on Sunday, Tom Brady, S.M.G., and D.K. unveiled an entire website devoted to it. It’s TBTimes.org, so I guess it’s a non-profit? There’s not much here yet, but let’s dive in anyway.

When you go to the site, ominous music plays. Then all the characters from previous comics appear. We’ve got Brady as a centaur from the Broncos comic. We also have the Jets’ hot tub salesman, the Falcons’ falcon, the Panthers’ cat, the Rams’ ram, the turtle, Gronk with his lab coat on after the Buffalo game...

WAIT. OH MY GOD. I’M FREAKING OUT BECAUSE GRONK WAS IN A LAB COAT LAST YEAR. Not only does he appear in the Houston comic, and now the Steelers comic, wearing his coat, he was wearing it in the comic that ran after the Patriots beat the Bills in 2016!!!!

Posted by Tom Brady on Sunday, October 30, 2016

The TB Times might be more calculated than I realized. When I started analyzing these a few weeks ago, I hypothesized that S.M.G., D.K., and Tom Brady had no idea what they were doing. I thought there was a good chance this started as a way to mess with indoctrinated Patriots fans who never question anything Tom Brady, prince and savior, does. I wondered if they’ve found themselves in slightly too deep, now that so many people (myself included) are so invested.

But maybe this has actually been planned out for two years.

Anyway, the rest of the gang is on tbtimes.org, too, but there’s a new guy — Peter Pan (or a leprechaun? I can’t tell) ripping his shirt open. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t think we’ve seen him yet. He hasn’t been in any comics last year or this year. The closest thing we’ve got to Peter Pan is Brady walking the plank when the narwhal saves him.

When you click on the button in the upper left-hand corner that looks like the logo on a Lacoste polo, the Croc changes (if it turns out that this is all just a way of announcing a that Lacoste is Brady’s new sponsor, I will riot in the streets of Foxboro).

First, Croc changes into his fidget spinner disguise:

Then he becomes a slow cooker, briefly, (hah, get it? Croc Pot? *walks slowly into the ocean*):

Then he lets out a mighty roar:

If you click on the Panther (which someone on Twitter called “a fat cat” in a message to me, and which I can’t stop laughing about), this pops up:

It’s the version of the TB Times that would’ve come out on October 1, had the Patriots not lost to the Panthers. It’s actually fairly disgusting, and also might be my favorite edition yet.

In this comic, the Panther eats Tom Brady. Brady not only has a huge cell phone with him as he sits in the cat’s stomach, but also gets reception in there, so he’s able to call previous Patriots player Vince Wilfork. Vince is wearing the RIBS hat he wears in the commercial he did for Kingston Charcoal commercial (fun fact: I love Vince and that hat so much that I bought one from the Kingston website, I’m wearing it as I write this).

Vince then feeds the panther so many ribs that the Panther forms a hairball in his stomach and throws up Tom Brady so hard that he shoots him into space.

FINALLY! AN ANSWER FOR WHY WE WERE IN SPACE WHEN THEY PLAYED HOUSTON! IT’S ALL STARTING TO COME TOGETHER!!!!!

Wait, except that it isn’t. The Patriots beat the Texans a week before they played the Panthers. The week after this would’ve come out, the Patriots played the Bucs, but that cartoon doesn’t take place in space.

I’m about three paragraphs away from lighting my computer on fire and drop-kicking it out of my window.

But first, check out this cryptic message in the HTML code of the website (yeah, I went there, and yeah, I’m fine, thanks for asking, the walls of my apartment are not covered with string and pictures of various species of crocodiles, why do you ask?):

They spell Croc “Krock” in that line of code I’ve highlighted. Maybe Croc is Robert Kraft. Krock. Hmmm...

When you click the console button under the Inspect Element tab, you see this:

It reads:

Hey! Tom Brady here.

Boy, I sure do love playing football. But there’s nothing quite like writing a healthy block of JavaScript.

Anyway, nice to see someone found this site and decided to inspect element.

You won’t find any more secrets here, though...yet.

Go Pats!

Well, damn. This feels like the closest thing to a personalized message I’m going to get. I wonder if they knew I’d inspect element. I doubt Brady wrote this, but it really does read like the gosh-darn-y way he talks.

You better believe that I’ll be checking this religiously as we head into the playoffs.

The fact that S.M.G., D.K., and Tom Brady are releasing previously unseen versions of the comics (from last week’s Dolphins game, and now this) makes me think several things:

  1. Maybe these guys DO know what they’re doing and they need all of the panels in order for the story to come together at the end of the year. So far, characters and narratives just keep reappearing haphazardly, but I have learned to never doubt Tom Brady when he’s trying to execute a plan. It usually works out.
  2. Maybe they were so cocky going into this season that they didn’t think they’d lose a single game and would therefore be able to release these only when they won. Maybe they need this website to ensure all the comics get published.
  3. Alternatively, this could be a very charming version of a midlife crisis. Or perhaps a sign that Tom Brady is starting his own media company once his career playing football is over. If that is true (SB Nation, don’t read this), I would like to know if they’re looking for an editor in chief. Or, hell, even a blogger. I emailed asktombrady@gmail.com to ask about it. I’ve emailed this address before, but I’ve never heard back, so I’m not holding my breath.

On a more serious note, I have to say that I think this is all kind of wonderful. Brady doesn’t have to do any of this, but it’s a fun element to an otherwise pretty garbage NFL season. And not only for Patriots fans — I’ve received a number of emails and tweets saying that people hate New England but love this strange and bizarre story that’s playing out online.

it’s smart, actually, for a QB of a team everyone hates to get a little funky. People might actually want the Patriots to win, if only for this silly reason.

In case you’re worried that the process of figuring out these trippy and frustratingly puzzling pictures is having psychotropic effects on me, don’t be. Here, for proof, is a video I took of myself while I researched the JavaScript of a football player’s fake newspaper’s website and Googled “inter-galactic lasers football”:

Except at the end, instead of turning around and saying, “I need a map,” I just do this: