Tom Brady and the infinite sadness

Game and personal life falling apart before all our eyes

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Tom Brady
Hello darkness, my old friend...
Image: Getty Images

Thursday Night Football is usually a pretty sad occasion as ritual, given the mess that it tends to be with the short rest and everyone still very much sore from the game they played just four days prior, and the lack of practice time dulling any sharpness. But last night was particularly acute.

There are plenty of logical reasons that Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers blow chunks now. Plenty of schematic things that experts can draw out, the miscommunication he and his receivers seemingly can’t escape, the throws he’s not making anymore, or the additional hits and pressure he’s taking. I’ll leave that for someone who knows more about the nuts and bolts of football and the NFL. What no one can miss is just the overall sadness of watching the experience.


Maybe the shock for all of us is that Brady can feel human emotion at all instead of pantomiming whatever he sees other people do to try and appear as close to normal as he can, which is what I and most everyone else assumed. And this isn’t meant to drum up any noticeable amount of sympathy for Brady, because he’s had everything he could have ever wanted professionally or personally, or financially for so long. But hey, money can’t buy everything, I suppose. Still, we’ve all been there, if all the rumors and tabloid headlines are true. Breakups are truly the worst, especially when they coincide with another major part of one’s life falling apart. For Brady, that’s his professional one. We know the latter was the major pillar of his life, and have to assume his family was at least close to one. Or at least he was pretending it was. Either way, something’s crumbling.

Brady and the Bucs are a Seattle winter: Gray and cold and the darkness feels like it’ll never lift, the dampness feeling like it gets through the skin, while not being quite so miserable that it can truly break someone, meaning he and they just have to carry it. Every throw that lands at a receiver’s ankles on the bounce, every sack he takes, every pass that is nearly picked off because it’s not thrown where the receiver was supposed to be or vice versa, could be soundtracked by Joy Division. It’s become more than a chore for everyone. No one is enjoying this, and yet they’re forced to go through it.


It spreads beyond Brady. The offense clearly is burdened by shouldering the blame/responsibility for what’s going wrong, because no one’s ever going to pin it on Brady and he’s’ certainly going to let all the cameras know who he thinks was to blame for yet another drive fizzling out at midfield. The defense is exhausted from carrying an offense that can’t be roused to do anything but cry into their beer. The handpicked coaches gasp at having no answers.

If it wasn’t for Brady, it really would be hard to watch. Brady spent so long acting as if he was immune to any wrong turn or displeasure and that manufactured smile was plastered all over our TVs and websites. It’s actually refreshing to see someone who looked impenetrable break in a way.


Everything with the Bucs looks like it weighs 300 pounds to carry. It’s sluggish, it’s joyless, it’s unrelenting. They don’t run so much as trudge. It’s as if they’ve been enclosed in a plastic bubble and they’re just watching the rest of the league and world pass by in a separate place they can’t access.

Perhaps when you go as long as Brady did living above what plagues every other human, when it actually hits it hits like a wrecking ball wielded by a celestial being. And it takes everyone with you. The Bucs are sadness.


Connor McDavid plays with his food

Racking up a hat trick against the decidedly woebegone-on-purpose ’Hawks isn’t that big of an accomplishment, no matter how spiky they’ve been in the season’s opening throes, but Connor McDavid can usually attach a sense of whimsy to just about anything. His second goal was good enough:


Seth Jones plays this about as well as he can, as you have to give McDavid something of a gap, otherwise, he’s just going around you for a guided tour to the net. At that speed to pick that corner, he’s really the only player on Earth capable, aside from maybe Nathan MacKinnon.

Of course, McDavid is also just about the only player who can to that goal so thoroughly:


Jake McCabe, you can pick up your soul somewhere around Palace Grill after the game. McDavid deposits that shot five-hole with the same precision and lack of emotion that you and I pick off the Oreos in the cookie aisle. Hopefully, he won’t be going through a public divorce of his own making anytime soon, given his similar distant relationship with human emotion like Brady.