Obnoxious Boston Fan

'Cult of Tom Brady' flourishes in face of Deflategate

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Tom Brady may be down, but he's far from out in the minds of many Patriots fans. USA Today Sports

"A cult is a church down the street from your church." - Anonymous


The "Cult of Tom Brady" is alive and well despite the beating his reputation has received in the past two weeks.

Men want to be him. Women want to be with him. Young football players aspire to be him.

Or something like that.

There's a "Cult of Tom Brady" that millions of Patriots fans - and New Englanders in geography and spirit - have happily joined without much effort in the past 15 years.

I'm a Level Six.

Those at the top of this movement sit at Level Eight. The believe that anyone who has ever lost 10 pounds has called themselves "The Deflator" - or should have.

"The Cult of Tom Brady" began with his selection as the 199th pick in the 2000 NFL draft. Less than two years later, he came off the bench during the season and led the Patriots to victory in Super Bowl XXXVI, after John Madden said Brady should take the knee and play for overtime.

All hail the underdog.

Millions were swept up in Brady Euphoria. The movement continued to attract new members for several years until Super Bowl XLII. Then it began to wane. Brady was no longer considered "elite" entering 2014. The "COTB" reached its nadir on the final Monday night in September, when Brady and the Patriots were pounded by the Chiefs.

A counter-cult - "Play Jimmy G" - spouted overnight. It was quickly extinguished by reality on the football field as Brady won 10 of 11 and iced home-field advantage until Glendale.

Meanwhile, Brady was downing avocado ice cream and assembling the best season of his career.

Brady is unique in the pantheon of the athletes on Boston's sports Mount Rushmore in that he's an A-list celebrity with an A-list wife. That helps in bringing in those who aren't big-time football fans into the revival tent.

Add to all of his success and notoriety, Brady's devastatingly handsome features, his undefinable charm spoofed on Saturday Night Live this week, 160 regular-season victories, a record-21 playoff wins, and those four Super Bowl rings.

What's not to love about this guy?

J. Gordon Melton is an American religious scholar who was a co-founder of the Institute for the Study of American Religion.

"My working definition of a cult is a group that you don't like," Melton once wrote.

Bradyphiles, and those members of Patriots Nation who swear to "Defend The Wall" until their final Tweet, know all about that.

After all, "they hate us 'cause they ain't us."

Brady is not simply a sports-world "hero." He's become a face of a football dynasty and a decade-plus of Boston pro-sports championship dominance. Anything that tarnishes his reputation as an athlete can be assimilated into smear against anyone who has ever uttered the phrase "Boston Strong."

At least that's what I was told when I moved past Level Five.

The bottom line with the excessive punishment given to the quarterback and his team is this undeniable fact: The NFL is desperately trying to regain its moral standing with the pitchfork-wielding crowds around the rest of the country after its abysmal handling of the Ray Rice case and other domestic violence issues.

Even honest people in the Tri-State Area must admit that.

Since the release of the Wells report May 6, and the subsequent decision to suspend Brady for four games announced last Monday, Brady's supporters have taken to any and all forms of media and extremes to defend their man.

Bless those Level Eights who believe down in the deepest fibers of their sinew that Jim McNally called himself the "Deflator" because he was trying to lose weight.

My wife calls me the "Inflator" whenever I eat pizza or donuts. Or on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

Before we condemn those die-hards too harshly, remember they have nothing on the minions bitching that Brady's four-game suspension was too lenient, or that the Patriots should somehow be stripped of their Super Bowl title, or that simply fining Brady would not suffice because his wife is worth $300 million.

The NFL's punishment of a player should be determined based on the net worth of his wife?

That's some rabid-dog cult crazy right there.

The self-righteous from Brighton, New York, Pennsyltucky, and elsewhere, have stormed the moral high ground. Anyone who questions the evidence against Brady as being flimsy, or believes the punishment in no way fits the crime in this case, are all lumped in together as being completely in the tank.

Alex Rodriguez was given a curtain call at Yankee Stadium just moments before Brady took the stage at Salem State College a week ago. But only folks in New England, or those who feel the Patriots were excessively punished, apparently blindly follow their local stars and teams despite any and all blemishes.


Remember, you can't spell "sanctimony" without NYC.

It's far too easy and insulting to rip those us who have moved past passive neutrality [Level Four on our scale] for pointing out the obvious issue of NFL envy.

Envy is among the most base of human emotions. There is a reason why it is among the traditional "Seven Deadly Sins," right along with pride.

For those of us at Level Six it is "more probable than not" Brady may have cheated, but it's no big deal given how others were penalized for similar human failings.

Brady is a cheater like any player who has ever been flagged for holding, off-sides, intentional grounding or has been fined for using illegal equipment. Ditto for the Patriots. At Level Six, it's much more palatable to say Brady "pushed the boundaries of the rules and it was more probable than not that he crossed the line when seeking a competitive edge."

Level Twos believe Brady and Belichick have always skirted the rules but you ain't trying if you ain't cheating. Even they will tell you this Deflategate fisaco isn't even the worst scandal to hit the Patriots.

[We're not counting former players convicted of murder].

Google "Lisa Olson Patriots Locker Room" or "Hartford Patriots" or "1985 Patriots cocaine" for some historic perspective.

Since we were kids, when the Patriots were a mere joke of a franchise and not a Jimmy Fallon punch-line, we were taught both not to cheat and to do whatever it takes to win. Well, Brady is the entire Greek alphabet when it comes to Alpha males.

On Jan. 20, this space lobbied for the Patriots to cop to deflating footballs, and many other things.

What to do about Deflategate?
It's time to own it.
Celebrate the hate.
Embrace the envy.
Confess to everything.
Debategate. Spygate. Trickery. Deceit. Deception. Controlling the schedule. Manipulating the grade of the playing field. Spiking the Gatorade. Sharpening the spikes. Drones over Rex Ryan's house. Dark arts. Remote-controlled footballs.
Cop to all of it.
The first casualty of war, and Debategate, is innocence.
Turns out, Tom Brady likes deflated footballs.

On Jan. 22, we slammed Brady after answering "I don't believe so" when asked by NBC's Peter Alexander if he was a cheater.

That was still the most deflating moment of this entire mess.

A day later, we called Brady the "biggest loser" in the Deflategate saga. Several "Squirrel Busters" attacked me on Twitter, accusing me of being on the Seahawks payroll.

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Tom Cruise has nothing on many Patriots fans.Church of Scientology

Any Level Six will tell you there are too many media types who contort themselves into whatever argument necessary to deprive Brady of credit for his success.

When the Patriots won their first three Super Bowls, the home team provided footballs and visiting teams never got to them until pregame warm-ups. The Deflategate shenanigans were impossible.

But it was the defense, or Spygate, or Donovan McNabb's illness, or the soft AFC East, that built the Patriots dynasty. Never Brady. We heard similar rubbish throughout the team's 10-year Super Bowl drought.

Ted Wells gave us 243-page report with more holes than the Red Sox starting lineup. The NFL's best punch could not come to a definitive conclusion despite taking more time than the Aaron Hernandez or Boston Marathon bombing trials. The league has gone all "Boston Legal" in its case against Brady and the Patriots. Its case against Brady - and perhaps even the Patriots - will likely fall upon the same technicalities and interpretations used for its foundation.

The NFL must expect spin on all sides. The Wells report has given "COTB" members as much ammo as Brady's most ardent critics. A week ago, the Patriots were being punished for cheating. Now, the NFL party line is that the team is being punished for not cooperating. What's next? Two more draft picks for not bowing to Roger Goodell at this week's owners' meeting.

Let's flip the script. Say the Patriots lost to the Colts 45-7 in the AFC title game. Andrew Luck used footballs that were under the required 12.5 PSI limit. And those balls were deflated at Luck's request after they were examined by the officials.

Patriots fans would be far more furious about their team losing by 38 points than with anything the Colts had done. The bonfires from the No. 12 jerseys of the Brady cultists would be visible from space.

The Full-Time Contrarians would picking off fans who complained the Patriots were robbed. Patriots Nation's most vocal citizens would be mocked for saying that the Colts' win didn't count. The entire region would be belittled for saying any Colts Super Bowl win should be vacated.

There would be far too much vitriol and hatred directed at Brady, Belichick and the defense to worry about if the Colts had cheated. The cries for Jimmy Garoppolo to start in Week 1 would dominate off-season talk and speculation. It would be good thing in that case. Remember how all hell broke loose after that Week 4 loss at Kansas City?

The root of the Cult of Tom Brady lies in this fact: Many native and/or legitimate New Englanders really don't give a damn about what people from New York, Indy, Miami, Dallas or anywhere else think, think of them.

That's part of our DNA. Or at least mine. The quarterback from Northern California who played at Michigan and used to live in Pacific Palisades with the wife from Brazil has tapped into New England's collective persecution complex better than any athlete in Boston history.

The avatars on my Twitter feed feature more Tom Brady jerseys than the Patriots page at

"Doug from San Francisco" recently moved to the Boston area. He was caller on WEEI just before an appearance by Yours Truly Saturday with Chris Villani.

Among the reasons, according to Doug, why the Patriots should be subjected to a double-standard of punishment form the NFL: Robert Kraft looks like Thurston B. Howell III from "Gilligan's Island," Belichick doesn't listen to anyone else, and Brady is attractive.

It's stuff like that makes want to lose 25 pounds just so I can call myself the "Deflator."

Perhaps I'll be a Level Eight someday yet.

The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros.Reach Bill on the OBF Facebook page, Twitter @realOBF or at
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