Tom Brady is a name like few others in the sports world. While there is no denying that he is among the all-time great quarterbacks in the NFL, his representation in the sport is a matter of continuous debate. Going on to win five of eight Super Bowls with a high likelihood of returning for at least one more, he is seen by his fans as a hero wearing red, white, and blue. But some of the controversy and hubris associated with him also lists him as an antihero to many.
Regardless of where you or anyone else may list him, when he does finally get around to retiring it will be as the best-looking 40-something field general you’ve ever seen despite the punishment associated with his time on the field of battle. Decades of fighting without suffering many tremendous losses — or even seeming to age(!) — plus a controversial personal past. Does that remind you of anyone? To me that is the spitting image of Marvel’s original renegade X-man, Wolverine.
I’m sure those within the fanhood of the New England Patriots would have you believe that Brady is better suited as wimp-turned-wonder Steve Rodgers — better known as the First Avenger, Captain America. Through a set of their goggles, I can’t blame them for making this connection as they shout out, “Raw-jah!” in effigy of their own “Red Skull,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. I mean, heck, if you look at Rodgers before he took the super soldier serum and compared him to Brady as an NFL draftee, it’s a few shades short of a doppelgänger.
But here’s the thing about it: under some scrutiny, Captain America kinda sucks at his job while Tom Brady as a passer who barely commits turnovers clearly doesn’t. The Cap has more collateral damage on his hands despite being a tactical genius. Within the movies and comic book lore, he and his team draw the ire of the United Nations to draft what is known as the Sokovia Accords, a series of international laws meant to regulate the Avengers intervention in crises.
That being said, while Brady and Wolverine (a.k.a. Logan) will undoubtedly be categorized as greats in their own right, they will never be unanimously considered the greatest of all time. They each have a single severe weakness that holds them back against the competition. Wolverine has a skeleton made of an indestructible metal called adamantium while Tom Brady is unable to run or escape a defensive pass rush. The concept of limitation via a particular weakness has left Logan powerless against the Master of Magnets, Magneto, and has left Eli Manning a lasting antagonist to the Patriots’ Paragon.
While I can point to certain “plot pieces” that correspond between the careers of these two legends, it is their personalities that first led me to compare the two. After seeing Brady’s photo at the 2000 NFL Draft, the scrawny silhouette seen there hardly looked like an NFL player. Wolverine himself in the comics stands only 5’3” and 195 lbs. (without the metal in his skeleton) compared to Brady’s current 6’4″ and 225 lbs. (who is closer in build to actor Hugh Jackman who plays Wolverine in the movies and stands at 6’2″ and 181 lbs.) — not exactly a figure one associates with a brawler that is competitive if not outright dominant in every bout. What is it that makes either of these guys so dangerous? The guidance between their ears and the heart that beats in their chest.
TB12 and Logan respectively have great minds coaching them through many of their exploits. New England Patriot Coach Bill Belichick and the telepathic founder of the X-men, Professor Charles Xavier, provide the knowledge and focus for their intensity. This pair of leaders each has a prescient sense of their opponent, providing an advantage to strategic success.
At the end of the day, what drives either of these heroes at their core? In a word — “anger.” Specifically, a drive for vengeance by showing those that did them wrong that they will pay for it time and time again. I referenced in my preview of Super Bowl LII that Tom Brady is still bitter about being drafted in the sixth round. It drives him to pound away and train hard to continue his fight despite his age. Much in the same way that Wolverine relives the painful nightmare of his adamantium skeleton graft, Brady is forever haunted and driven by previous trauma that evokes a tenacity few others possess.