Dan Shaughnessy

Over here, Brady is a real nowhere man

By Dan Shaughnessy
Globe Columnist / October 25, 2009

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LONDON - Tom Brady, international icon?

Not quite.

Tom’s wife is internationally famous. Gisele is a goddess in Europe and just about everywhere else on the planet. Tom is not even an international man of mystery. Over here, he’s just a good-looking American football player who occasionally shows up on ads for Nike, Glaceau Smartwater, Stetson cologne, Visa, and Netjets.

London Fog?

That account belongs to Gisele. She’s famous like Jacko and Bono.

Tom? He’s not David Beckham, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Lance Armstrong, Roger Federer, Kobe Bryant, or LeBron James. Over here, he’s not even Serena Williams.

I’ve been checking for three days. Haven’t seen a poster of Tom. Haven’t seen Tom’s photo on the cover of any local newspapers or magazines. Went to Waterstone’s bookstore in Piccadilly Circus Friday night and there wasn’t a single copy of Charles Pierce’s “Moving The Chains.’’ For that matter, there wasn’t any book regarding American football, though I did see the Beckham bio in which the uber-star rips the Braintree Sheraton.

The only Brady shirts in town are worn by New England yahoos who have made the flight across the pond for today’s Patriots-Buccaneers game at Wembley Stadium. Hundreds of them assembled last night at a UKPatriots fan club party at the Sports Cafe on Haymarket Street (special guest: Bob Kraft).

Tom spoke with the British media a couple of times this past week. He submitted to an overseas conference call when the Patriots were still in Foxborough Tuesday. On Friday, he stood behind the podium in the Long Room of the stodgy Brit Oval Cricket Club (built in 1890). In typical tacky American form, Tom was positioned in front of a Dunkin Donuts/Mass. Lottery/Patriots logo, which was placed between sconces in front of a wood panel memorializing the club members who lost their lives in World War I.

There were surprisingly few Gisele questions. Tom was treated less invasively than your typical Wimbledon match winner. Sample questions: Has Kraft put any extra pressure on you to impress the locals? Can you pick out one moment when you were growing up that inspired you to become an American football player? I was wondering if you’ve researched your Irish ancestry at all? Any specific concerns with your knee on the field at Wembley? When you came here four years ago, were you recognized?

“The Americans, they recognized me,’’ Brady said. “But the English people, they’re not too familiar with football.’’

A followup question was, “What is it like to think of yourself as a global icon?

“I don’t think of it like that too often,’’ he said. “I’m very much who I’ve always been. There are certain circumstances in your life . . . opportunities that happen in your life that you take advantage of, and obviously with the success of our team, the quarterback gets a lot of the attention, a lot of the focus.

“That’s just part of it. You don’t have success as a quarterback without a great team, great coaches, and great leadership from our owner, Mr. Kraft. Believe me, there’s a lot of people that I’m very proud to be associated with, and this team, we’re all privileged to play for this team.’’

Typical Tom Teamspeak. No Ali in this guy. And that’s good when you play a team sport.

On Friday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell was asked if the NFL has an international superstar in Tom Brady.

“I think so,’’ said the Commish. “I think clearly Tom Brady is a global star. Joe Montana was a global star. Refrigerator Perry was a huge star in the ’80s here.’’

It hurts to think that Tom is not even up to Fridge Fame. I checked the local rags yesterday to see what kind of splash Tom made after Friday’s media sessions at the Oval.

The Daily Mail? Not a single word about American football in the massive tabloid.

The London Times? The paper featured a dozen or more pages on soccer. There was an interesting story on “The humungous sadness of Britain’s fattest man’’ (Paul Mason tips ’em at 70 stone - “displacing the previous record holder, who shed half his bodyweight in preparation for his marriage to some lucky, lucky girl’’), plus a feature on “How we finally fell for Yoko.’’ Simon Barnes wrote two paragraphs on the American football, describing Brady as “massive and modest . . . the Patriots’ main man.’’

In the pullout section of the Daily Telegraph, I found a substantial feature on Brady, written by Ian Chadband, called, “Salute the ‘golden boy’ living American Dream.’’

“The man with a claim to being the finest American sportsman to compete across the Pond quickly had his Limey hosts eating out of his hand,’’ wrote Chadband. “It was like watching David Beckham using his matinee idol glow to win over LA . . . Becks and his Posh might indeed be a match for you and your Brazilian supermodel wife . . . he follows that fond tradition of sporting folk heroes such as Joe DiMaggio and Johnny Unitas, beloved for their grace and humility while achieving greatness.’’

The Daily Express featured a column by Andrew Elliott comparing Brady to Beckham: “[Brady is] the most marketable player in the NFL thanks to the clean-cut image and chiseled good looks (you can see your own reflection in those teeth). If the rumours are to be believed, he was even lined up to replace Beckham as the face - or crotch, considering the poses, of DKNY.’’

That’s more like it.

Finally, Tom gets some love in London. But he can still walk across Hyde Park without being recognized.

Dan Shaughnessy is a Globe columnist. He can be reached at

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