Thank God the Patriots won on Sunday. I say this every week when New England gets the W because I am a Patriots fan, but this week’s reason went beyond regional pride and deep, inexplicable fandom. This time, all I cared about was getting another edition of the TB Times, the cartoon newspaper that
Tom Brady Tom Brady’s Social Media Guy posts to the quarterback’s Instagram and Facebook after a win.
Last week, you see, I went on a deep internet dive to try to figure out what these cartoons could possibly mean. I discovered that there is a crocodile named Croc who keeps popping up, but I have no idea what he represents, and I have become obsessed with figuring it out.
My friend Doug Kyed, a reporter for NESN in Foxborough, did me a solid and asked Brady about it at a press conference last Friday:
Asked Tom Brady about the crocodile that keeps showing up in the TB Times. He says we'll find out the connection and story at the end of the year. He's keeping us waiting.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) December 1, 2017
I don’t have a working theory that satisfies me. Some readers have suggested Croc represents “crocodile tears” (inauthentic displays of emotion); Brady’s haters have accused him of crying, to his wife Gisele Bundchen, to Bill Belichick, to the shoe company Crocs. You guys are getting into it, especially one guy named Thom who sent me this and should probably chill:
“Brady is releasing a spinoff version of “Crocs” with an Alligator based name (get it?)-The spirit of Aaron Hernandez, a Florida Gator, lives with Brady forever because Tom was the one who committed those heinous acts while the Patriots organization framed the less-vital Hernandez for the murders.”
Someone in the comments last week also suggested this could be Brady’s homage to the original Patriots’ program illustrator, Phil Bissell, and if you image search it, that makes a lot of sense.
I think Belichick as Croc is somewhat compelling, but that doesn’t explain why Croc had dreadlocks last week. Also, this week Belichick appears in the foreground of the cartoon and Croc is in the background, which makes Belichick as Croc less probable because when someone asks, “Well, has anyone ever seen Belichick and Croc in the same room together?” it’s like, yeah, we have. Right here.
I think Croc most likely represents something more metaphorical than physical, but I’m not ready to say what that is yet. Keep the submissions coming, though:
And a theory that makes a lot of sense from Jordan even though he thinks I work at Bleacher Report, which I don't pic.twitter.com/VMaupaER27— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) November 28, 2017
Now, let’s get into this week’s edition:
This one cartoon makes way more sense than last week’s, which looked like something someone on mushrooms who just went scuba diving would’ve come up with. The Patriots beat the Bills this week, so the image above shows a bunch of Bills lined up for an audition as Belichick says to Brady that he isn’t impressed.
But just because there’s some method in this madness doesn’t mean there isn’t a whole lot of madness, too. The Bills pictured here are those of the Gates, Murray, Hader, Crystal, and Will Smith varieties.
I’m not sure these are the first famous Bills I would’ve thought to depict. Interestingly enough, however, when you Google “famous Bills,” one of the first articles that comes up is this one from Ranker. And the first Bills it lists are:
- Bill Clinton (too political, and there’s also the whole Patriots-Trump thing which we are not going to get into right now).
- Bill Murray ✅
- Billy Crystal ✅
- Billy Joel (My theory is given that Billy Joel sings “Movin’ Out” and “Only the Good Die Young” and “New York State of Mind,” and the risk of fans seeing this as a sign that Brady is leaving the Patriots was too great.)
- Bill Cosby (super not an option anymore)
- Bill Gates ✅
- Bill O’Reilly (also super not an option anymore and too political anyway)
- And then about five or six "Williams" later we get to ...
- ... Bill Hader ✅
All of these cartoons are signed D.K., and whomever D.K. is appears to rely heavily on the internet to create these cartoons. Or perhaps it’s the Mysterious Social Media Guy Who Doesn’t Want To Be Named (who will henceforth be referred to as S.M.G), who then tells D.K. what to draw.
When it comes to how the Bills are depicted, I have some answers and some questions.
I was raised on Bill Murray’s movies and all of his SNL skits (thanks, Dad), so I was therefore immediately able to tell that the bathrobe was from the poster/DVD cover/hotel room scene of Lost in Translation:
Story checks out:
This is not the first image I would’ve chosen for Bill Murray. I would’ve gone with something more iconic: Steve Zissou from The Life Aquatic, Carl from Caddyshack, Phil from Groundhog Day, or even Walt Bishop in Moonrise Kingdom wearing madras pants and no shirt (“I'll be out back, I'm going to find a tree to chop down”) before I got to this bad (that’s right, I said it) Sofia Coppola film.
But that got me thinking: If D.K. or S.M.G. simply Googled “famous Bills” to come up with famous Bills, they probably just Googled each individual Bill to find pictures of him. So I searched Bill Murray in Google images, and, sure enough, the picture above popped up in one of the first two rows:
I then searched Bill Gates, and sure enough, one of the first images that came up was this one:
Which looks an awful lot like the drawing of Gates in the TB Times:
This photo comes from a Forbes article published in August about how Gates joined Instagram while he was in Tanzania. But the photo is from a press conference where Gates showed a Motorola running Microsoft software in 2006, according to the caption.
Someone should tell D.K. or S.M.G. that just because Gates was holding a janky-ass version of a BlackBerry 11 years ago doesn’t mean they can’t take artistic license with the art and make him hold, say, a Droid. Or, I don’t know, nothing. He doesn’t have to be holding anything. The world is your oyster when you’re the creator of the TB Times.
Anyway, my Google theory ran into some issues when it comes to the Bill Hader image. This is the one that’s puzzling me the most because I can’t figure out where it’s from. I went through Hader’s entire IMDB history and searched the images from every single movie and TV show he’s been in, and I still can’t find it.
Here’s what my search history looked like after this exercise in frustration, which I am only somewhat embarrassed to tell you took about 45 minutes:
I don’t know if this means the image doesn’t exist and the one Bill they decided to take artistic license with was Hader (which would be weird), or if I just can’t find it. Regardless, he looks very flirty. Let’s zoom in for a second, because he’s really eying Bill and Tom in that sexy crop top:
If anyone knows where that image is from, please let me know.
I think this might be the photo they used for Billy Crystal, but with his hands down:
Kind of works, right?
Now time for Will “Bill” Smith. Yup, sure enough, in the fourth row of Google images there’s this:
Which became this:
Which answers my main question: Why does Will Smith have a mustache here?
I took you through this process with me because I want to suggest that the TB Times might not be quite as well thought out as we think they are. In some respects, I think they probably contain many cryptic images. But in others, I think we’re reading too much into it. For example, there might be no rhyme or reason as to why Croc had dreadlocks last week. It could just be that D.K. or S.M.G thought it would be funny or that somewhere in the depths of Google there is a photo of a crocodile with dreadlocks.
I also wanted to dispel with the notion that any of these Bills contain messages themselves. I’m pretty sure they’re simply random, as determined by a Google search. Except for the Bill Hader one — not a goddamn clue what’s going on there.
That brings us to the actual cryptic stuff, which is, in this case, Billy Crystal’s hand and the key in Croc’s...paw? Claw? I ran into the problem of what to call Croc’s hands last week, too. Gonna go with claw.
You’ll notice that Billy Crystal is participating in the Circle Game. This is a neat little prank that we used to play in elementary school. If you got someone to look down at your hand as you made that gesture, you got to punch them. You’d be like, “check out this pen” and your friend would look at your hand, but instead of a pen you’d be making a circle with your fingers, and then you’d be allowed to wind up and nail your friend in the arm. Looking back, I wonder how any of us matured enough to stay alive.
In other news: Billy Crystal gets to punch all of us now.
Here’s my favorite theory about this cartoon that someone named CJ sent me:
I think it’s an alligator... and he’s saying “later alligator”
Like this is his goodbye tour.
Unfortunately, I think CJ is wrong. I think the key is a reference to the fact that Croc holds the keys to the secret of who or what he represents. If any of this is a direct message to those of us, like myself, who have become obsessed with figuring out what is going on with the TB Times, I think it’s this. Perhaps it’s an answer to the several emails I have sent to email@example.com.
I just realized there's an email address under the picture of Tom Brady as a psychic on the TB Times cover from week 2 so I emailed it and it DIDN'T BOUNCE!!! Will keep you posted if I hear back pic.twitter.com/KC8Rir4b5q— Charlotte Wilder (@TheWilderThings) November 28, 2017
Or maybe no one in Brady’s camp knows what they’re doing here and has no idea what Croc represents and now they’re in too deep.
Seriously. Perhaps this started as a prank — which Crystal’s hand could be a nod to — to see how far blindly faithful Patriots fans would go before they started to question how weird Brady’s social media was getting. And maybe now members of the TB12 camp find themselves backed into a corner because so many of us care so much, so they’re trying to throw us off the scent and bide time while they come up with a satisfying answer. Maybe the key represents the fact that both S.M.G. and D.K. will remain locked in the basement of a TB12 workout center with only lentils for sustenance until they find one.
Only time will tell. For now, all I know is that if the Patriots don’t win every game from here on out I will be devastated, and it will have nothing to do with football.