When someone has lost an argument, there are a handful of reliable responses in online discourse—and let’s face it, everything is online discourse now—that demonstrate whether or not they are Mad. One of the silliest and most common, beloved of red-faced Landscaping Dads and Adjunct Trump Scolds everywhere, is a mid-discussion non-sequitur reference to the High Quality Life they actually lead, thereby placing them above the fray: Oh, you think I’m wrong? Maybe I’ll go laugh about it with my beautiful wife—who’s a supermodel by the way—over a bottle of expensive wine.
Which brings us to New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who is definitely Not Mad.
There’s nothing inherently shameful about the actual scenario alluded to in the gambit by the way—it sounds pretty nice! Rather, it’s the desperation implied in explicitly pointing it out unprovoked that comes off as so damn goofy. But Brady, as if we needed another reminder, is not like the rest of us. He doesn’t need to come out and tell us he’s Not Mad, he merely has to carry on with his normal life, and trust that the message will come across to the world one way or another. Revenge is a life well-lived, they say. In that regard Tom Brady has owned us all.
The four-time Super Bowl champion, and greatest quarterback to ever play the game—as you probably do not need to be reminded—has spent the first month of the football season in exile, owing to an unprecedented four-game suspension over suspicion of lightly lowering the air pressure of footballs, an equipment violation that normally comes with a fine of anywhere between $5-9,000. The Patriots were further fined $1 million dollars and stripped of a first and fourth round draft pick. To call the entire Ballghazi ordeal, which dominated the sports media landscape for the better part of a year and a half, a dog and pony show would be an insult to the many hardworking dogs and ponies of the world; at least there’s a sense of professionalism involved there. Nonetheless, after having his suspension upheld following a series of appeals which, mercifully, did not make its way to the Supreme Court, Brady relented this summer, taking his slightly deflated balls and going home. To his palatial, picturesque dream home.
For many athletes, a high profile suspension is a time to go into hiding, to lay low, and to escape the harsh scrutiny of the voracious sports media. Brady is not allowed to have any contact with the team, or appear at the facility until this Monday. For someone so driven by routine and work ethic, all the time off has got to be driving him crazy. “I’ve got too much damn time to do nothing!” he told me recently. But rather than disappear into a lavish well-appointed bunker with a freezer stocked with avocado ice cream, he’s been jet-setting around the world, living his best life—which is to say, the best life. Brady appeared as an honorary captain for his alma mater Michigan earlier this month, launched an ad campaign in which he palled around with The Dude himself, Jeff Bridges, and, just this last week, flew off to Italy with his wife Gisele Bündchen—who’s the world’s preeminent supermodel by the way—to lounge by the sea and, probably, drink expensive bottles of wine (as dietary restrictions allow).
“We had a great time. It was a great chance to get away,” Brady told Jim Gray after the trip. “I’ve never had an opportunity in September and hopefully I don’t have one for a very, very long time.”
I’m not even mad, in other words.
There’s another, somewhat more obscure, but no less hilarious expression of the Not Mad idiom, known as being Red and Nude. It’s employed most regularly of late by toothsome cartoon skeleton and Dilbert creator Scott Adams on Twitter. In this case, when responding to a critic, Adams—and others—might reply back with a picture of themselves shirtless.
Brady being Brady, he naturally elevated this to the next level when he was photographed sunbathing nude in Italy in pictures published by the New York Post. To paraphrase the immortal words of Shaq, the pictures seemed to be saying, Goodell, how’s my ass look? (Pretty good, to be honest). At the end of the series of photos, he’s shown lounging next to Gisele checking their phones, perhaps laughing at the haters. This is actually all funny to me.
Brady critics—and there are many—who’ve dragged his name through the mud and tarnished the reputation of this consummate competitor, dedicated charitable ambassador, and goddamn gift to mankind, may feel like they’ve earned a victory, but there’s only one truly insurmountable tactic when it comes to winning any argument online: Not responding. Brady hasn’t said anything. He’s just done what he does.
Meanwhile, he’ll return to his team Monday, who very well may be 4-0 by the time the weekend is over, the Patriots continuing to win all without missing a beat. Somebody’s been owned here, but it’s not Brady.