Football star Tom Brady has sung on Saturday Night Live, been immortalized on The Simpsons, and popped up on an episode of Entourage, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise when he delivered another funny performance in a recent FunnyOrDie video to promote Under Armour. Brady plays the comic straight man, just hoping to locate some gear at a California sporting goods store when the salesperson and some customers become fascinated by him — not by his stardom, but what they perceive as his thick Bah-ston accent. In fact, no one seems to recognize him as the Patriots Super Bowl quarterback, and two yokels even confuse him for Matt Damon. It’s a particularly funny exchange because the two famous men could pass for cousins. (When Damon was named People‘s Sexiest Man Alive in 2007, he told the magazine that Brady was “a taller, better-looking version of me.”)
“I got a chance to know Matt a little bit, and he would appreciate that video,” says Brady, who had a cameo in Damon’s 2003 comedy Stuck on You and admits that people have mistaken him for the Oscar winner, though never in Boston. “The people in Boston are very territorial about their sports stars and with their actors and actresses.”
Brady met with the media Wednesday as part of Under Armour’s promotional event to launch its new line of Spine sneakers, which the company envisions will put it on equal footing with rivals like Nike, Reebok, and adidas. The 34-year-old quarterback is taller — he’s at least 6’4″ — and lankier in person than he looks in his uniform, and after years of jousting with occasionally adversarial reporters after games, he’s a master of handling questions graciously without saying more than he has to. Still, he generously talked to EW about the allure of entertainment, the fashion stylings of New England’s head coach Bill Belichick, and how much longer he sees himself playing in the NFL. Oh yeah, and his hair.
One TV show that you shouldn’t expect Brady to pop up on any time soon is Hard Knocks, HBO’s sports documentary series that embeds itself into the pre-season of a select NFL team. Since the show premiered in 2001, the Patriots have been the most successful team in the league, winning three Super Bowls, but they’ve never been profiled. That’s not exactly an accident, as they’ve certainly been invited to join. “It’s a lot of inside access that people get [to watch], so we guard that pretty well at Foxboro,” said Brady, who admitted he was asked by the team for his input a few years ago when HBO approached them. Clearly, there’s competitive advantage to be had and maintained. When it was mentioned that the Miami Dolphins will be this season’s subjects, Brady quickly broke into a smile and said, “Good,” hinting that he’ll certainly be studying the show as if it were an opponent’s game tape. “It’s a good program. I enjoy watching it, and it gives a lot of people insight into what [teams] do in getting prepared for the season.”
One of Brady’s star teammates, however, will be popping up on your television soon. All-pro tight end Rob Gronkowski is one of the celebrity bachelors on Fox’s new dating show, The Choice. “He’s a great guy, a great football player and teammate,” said Brady. “When you’re 23 or 24 years old, you can have fun with those type of things. You take the different opportunities when you get them, because you never know when you’re going to get them again.”
One can only imagine what the irascible Belichick must think of Gronkowski’s glamorous TV gig; the coach’s notorious focus and competitive fire is equaled in renown perhaps only by his lack of sideline fashion sense. “I know,” said Brady, when it was suggested that Under Armour should step up and design a semi-stylish half-sleeved grey hoodie for the coach. “Sometimes I just shake my head with the stuff that he wears. It looks like he didn’t even look when he cut [the sleeves]. It’s two sizes too small or two sizes too big, but then he goes out on the field in front of millions of people. But he just picks what he picks, and he actually wears it well. In fact, it would be funny if you saw him in something different.”
Wearing it well is something that comes much easier to Brady, whose hair is perhaps the focus of more attention than any NFL player’s coif, with the possible exception of Troy Polamalu. Confronted with a quartet of images of haircuts past, Brady expressed no remorse. “I’m never afraid to cut it,” Brady said with a wide grin. “It’s all how I’m feeling at the time. It’s nice to have some creativity with one’s hair. My buddy over there has had the same haircut for 10 years so I give him a lot of grief about that.”
What those memorable ‘do’s prove, if nothing else, is that as Brady enters the back-9 of his career, he won’t be doomed to suffer the follicle fates of Terry Bradshaw or Y.A. Tittle. Of course that could change, depending on how long he intends to play. When he signed a lucrative four-year extension in 2010 — a deal he recently restructured — he said he hoped to play until he was 40. After another Super Bowl season, though, Brady now seems eager to prolong his stay. “If it were up to me, I want to play a lot longer than that,” he said. “I love playing. I love the sport. I love being part of a team. There’s nothing else I’d rather do.”
So hang in there HBO. Wait long enough, and there’s always hope Brady ends up on Hard Knocks after all.