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40 reasons why Tom Brady is the NFL’s most polarizing player

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On his 40th birthday, we reflect on why people have such strong feelings about the Patriots quarterback.

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NFL fans either love Tom Brady or they hate him. There’s not much room for any feelings in between.

One of the reasons Brady is such a polarizing player is because he is, as of Thursday, 40 years old, and despite his age, he’s still at the top of his game. That was on display in Super Bowl LI, when he bounced back from a difficult first half to erase a 25-point deficit and win in overtime for the first time in Super Bowl history.

It was his fifth Super Bowl victory out of seven appearances. If you like Tom Brady, this is likely one of the reasons you’re enamored with him. If you hate him, well, this is also probably one of your top justifications.

On this momentous occasion, Brady’s 40th birthday, let’s examine 40 reasons fans either love him, or love to hate him.

1. He’s good. Real good.

Brady has the best lifetime win-loss record of any quarterback in NFL history with 208 wins against 61 losses. It’s enough reason for his supporters to love him and his detractors to despise him.

2. He has a supermodel wife.

On the surface, it looks like Brady lives a pretty charmed life.

3. One of his houses has a damn moat.


4. Deflategate.

If you’re a Brady fan, you’re still outraged that the quarterback had to serve a four-game suspension to start the 2016 season for his role in Deflategate and his unwillingness to cooperate with the league’s investigation. If you’re a Brady hater, you enjoyed every minute of those four Brady-less games.

5. His hairstyles.

Brady’s hair choices over the years evoke some visceral responses. Especially this one:

NBA Finals Game 3: Los Angeles Lakers v Boston Celtics Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

And this one:

Indianapolis Colts v New England Patriots Photo By Harry How/Getty Images

And definitely this one:

'Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty' Costume Institute Gala At The Metropolitan Museum Of Art - Arrivals Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

6. Super Bowl LI is enough of a reason on its own.

A historic comeback. A nearly flawless second-half performance. It’s the kind of heroics that Brady has developed a reputation for over the course of his career.

7. Drew Bledsoe.

The way Brady evolved into the Patriots starter, taking over for an injured Bledsoe and earning — or stealing, depending on where you’re standing — the starting job is memorable and left people with strong feelings about Brady from Day 1.

8. His aggressively healthful diet.

Who in the world can survive without drinking coffee? Or alcohol? Or eating strawberries? This man has a freezer full of avocado ice cream. It’s either admirable or obnoxious.

9. People either love or hate Bill Belichick, and the two are inextricably connected.

As your feelings about one go, so they go for the other member of this dynamic duo. Belichick and Brady’s winning ways are intertwined, and if you hate one, you probably hate the other, and vice versa.

10. He’s rich as hell.

He’s No. 15 on the Forbes World’s Highest-Paid Athletes list. Brady is currently playing on a two-year, $41 million deal with the Patriots, and he’s pulling in about $22 million this year. Not bad. He’s made about $196.2 million over his 17 seasons, according to Forbes. And he rakes in an extra $8 or so million per year with his many endorsements.

11. His UGGs endorsement.

Ugh, UGGs. We’re willing to bet more people dislike this one than the other way around.

12. His Aston Martin endorsement.

The cheapest Aston Martin you can buy costs a cool $118,000. Perhaps you admire Brady’s suave nature; one that screams, “I can convince you to buy a car that costs six figures.” Perhaps you’re rolling your eyes right now just thinking about it.

13. His TAG Heuer endorsement.

The least expensive TAG Heuer watch we can find is about $1,500. They can run you upward of $20,000. Your reactions to this are probably in line with whatever you think about that Aston Martin endorsement.

14. His wife is even wealthier than he is.

Gisele’s net worth hovers somewhere right around $360 million. They seem very happy together, and they have a lovely family and more money than they know what to do with. How nice for them.

15. His draft story is really something.

You may have seen him crying about it on NFL Network once or twice or one billion times. OK, Tom, WE KNOW that every team passed you over for more than five solid rounds of the 2000 NFL draft. Everything he has accomplished as a sixth-round pick is truly remarkable.

16. He went to Michigan.

Tom Brady is a bona fide Michigan Man. Michigan Men in general tend to rub everyone but other Michigan Men the wrong way.

17. This failed high five.

Bless his heart.

18. He had a Make America Great Again hat in his locker.

This is the very definition of polarizing.

19. His mom says he’s the fastest player in the NFL.

He’s definitely not, but it’s sweet of her to say it. I mean, the guy ran a 5.28 40-yard dash at his combine. And this is what he looks like lumbering for a first down:

20. He never says what he actually thinks.

Unless all of Brady’s opinions are vague and noncommittal, he’s not forthcoming about anything. He’s been asked about things like his relationship with Donald Trump and other hot-button issues, and he gives bland answers that don’t actually tell you a thing. Maybe you’d rather not know what Tom Brady thinks about anything, but there are plenty of people who would appreciate a straight answer once in a while.

21. He had a cameo on Entourage.

We’ll let Turtle tell you about it.

22. He also had a cameo in the Entourage movie.

So did his teammates Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman. Edelman was helping Gronk bong a beer, and that’s probably better than Brady’s cameo.

23. And he had a cameo in Ted 2.

Brady played himself, of course, in Seth MacFarlane’s film about a foul-mouthed talking teddy bear which stars Boston’s own Mark Wahlberg. Wahlberg’s character, John, and Ted, the talking bear, seek out Brady as a sperm donor.

Producer Jason Clark, and apparently everybody on set, were all impressed with Brady.

“The guy did a fantastic job,” Clark said, via USA Today’s Bryan Alexander. “The funniest thing about having Brady on the set was the stir he created with the crew and other cast members. It was like having the president visit the set."

Of course it was.

24. He probably owns your team on a regular basis.

Unless you’re a Patriots fan or a Broncos fan, Tom Brady basically owns your team. He has a winning record against every other team in the NFL, and the only reason he doesn’t have a winning record against the Patriots is because he plays for New England. If you’re a Patriots fan, you’re probably thrilled about this, and Broncos fans are probably proud that their team has held up so well against Brady. But for everyone else, this is probably pretty annoying.

And even Wikipedia acknowledges that Tom Brady is the owner of the Jets.

25. He lost two Super Bowls to the New York Giants.

Maybe you’re a Giants fan, or a fan of every team but the Patriots and the rest of the NFC East, and this makes you happy. Maybe you’re a Patriots fan or you hate the Giants. Either way, you probably have some feelings about this.

26. He is bad at sumo wrestling.

Surprise! Tom Brady is bad at something. Maybe it’s because sumo wrestlers typically aren’t 6’4 and 225 pounds. But he is not good at it at all:

@tombrady always fighting for that extra yard. #TBAsiaTour #IWILL

A post shared by Under Armour (@underarmour) on

27. He wrote a cookbook, and it costs $200.

If you want to eat like Tom Brady eats — and deprive yourself of wonderful things like coffee and gluten and strawberries and ice cream that is made from actual cream and sugar instead of avocados — these fine recipes can be yours for this exorbitant price. You can also pay for his meal service to send you the ingredients for these garbage meals.

28. This awkward pump fake.

What the heck is this, Tom Brady?

29. He had a dance-off with Julian Edelman to Migos’ “Handsome and Wealthy.”

And he looked like your dad dancing at a wedding after spending a little too much time at the open bar:

30. The Tuck Rule.

This one hits Raiders fans right where it hurts. An obscure rule was applied to overturn a Tom Brady fumble, and it kept Oakland from beating the Patriots in the divisional round after the 2001 season. We can’t blame Oakland fans for staying bitter about it.

31. Patriots fans revere him unconditionally.

If you criticize Tom Brady in front of a Patriots fan, you know you’re going to get an earful. It doesn’t matter what this guy does. If you don’t like him, you’re a hater, and jealous, and the worst. It’s exhausting. But also, Brady is one of the all-time greats, so maybe the people who criticize him are haters, and jealous, and the worst.

32. He wants to play until he’s 45 years old, and he might be able to.

If you’re over 40, this especially might annoy you just a little bit. Brady’s in impeccable shape, and playing for five more years is a distinct possibility.

33. The FBI had to look for his missing Super Bowl jerseys.

And Robert Kraft compared them to priceless works of art. If you didn’t roll your eyes at that whole spectacle, you may have not been paying attention.

34. He’s been to more Super Bowls than 28 of the 32 teams in the NFL.

OK, Tom Brady, we get it. You’re very good at football.

35. He’s won more Super Bowls than 28 teams, also.

Only the Steelers have more, with six wins. The 49ers, Cowboys, and Patriots (thanks to Tom Brady) each have five wins.

36. He wrote a self-help book. At least it doesn’t cost $200.

It’s called The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance, and it’s about the most Tom Brady thing ever.

37. He declared the day of the Super Bowl LI parade a city-wide holiday.

You’re not actually the boss of the whole city of Boston, Brady. (Actually, Bostonians are probably more than willing to accept that he is.)

38. He’s on the cover of the G.O.A.T. Edition of Madden but won’t admit that he’s the greatest of all time.

Ah, Tom Brady’s filled with humility. How endearing. Or annoying.

39. A courtroom sketch is the most famous portrait of him:

His bust in the Hall of Fame damn well better look like this.

40. He’s 40 years old and is playing as well as he ever has.

Happy 40th birthday, Tom Brady. Here’s to many more.