Trying to write about ESPN’s new Tom Brady 10-part documentary series “Man in the Arena” is overwhelming because it takes its name from a quote criticizing critics for daring to criticize from the sidelines. Which means that I am suddenly quite aware of my own cold and shy soul and that I have not dared either victory or defeat. So I’m already embarrassed to even have something to say.
However, my editor asked me to review this and I have kids to feed so here it goes:
You’ll probably love this lengthy documentary on Tom Brady, available on ESPN + starting November 16, if you like Tom Brady or the Patriots, or just want to relive some football in a nice way.
Stream “Man in the Arena” on ESPN + beginning November 16.
If you’re waiting for a new incisive look at Tom Brady, or hear him dig deep thoughts from his soul, or have Bill Belichick explain anything or, broadly speaking, have some of the narrative surrounding the NFL’s greatest champion. If you’ve ever known change, evolved, or deepened because you saw this, you may very well be disappointed.
I may not have spent myself in a worthy cause, or struggled bravely, or met great enthusiasm, but I saw screenings during the first three episodes of “Man in the Sand,” and those are my thoughts.
Perhaps this should not be a surprise. The series is directed by Gotham Chopra, who, in addition to being one of our best sports story tellers, is a friend and business partner of Tom Brady (his company produced this series and Chopra is doing a companion podcast).
Also, Tom Brady is still playing soccer, as you may have heard. It hasn’t been years like Michael Jordan did for “The Last Dance.” These are Brady’s middle-aged memoirs, presented a bit like one of those videos where you could have begged your parents to buy you if you were lucky enough to have your favorite team win a championship as a kid. Soaring music. Mixing montages. Tough men explaining how they worked harder and therefore succeeded.
Not that there is nothing new or sincere from Brady. It curses a lot. At one point, he curses a lot because he’s imitating Belichick. There is also very little soft Brady here. He’s a lot more like a soccer jerk who really, really, really wanted to be good, and then he got some luck (and yes, he worked incredibly hard) to make it happen. This is how you see yourself. He is in a place to show that side, at least now. But it’s not really letting go completely. Remember that time Brady got drunk in the Bucs parade and tossed the Lombardi Trophy through the boats before retreating to the safety of Gronk’s embrace? This is not that Tom. That Tom was 14 beers deep. This one is four sips away from his third Coors Light, and he’s already regretting how he’ll feel in practice tomorrow.
But of course I’ve only seen the first three episodes (each about 50 minutes or so), covering a time in Tom Brady’s life when he was just a soccer player, and not even a truly famous one. . This is the growing action in Brady’s history; there are so many bad haircuts and too many visors, but also the sudden appearance of a player whose absolute and exultant faith in himself… it works.
“Man in the Arena” covers each of Brady’s 10 Super Bowl appearances, and he won his first three (XXXVI vs. the Rams, XXXVII vs. the Panthers, and XXXIX vs. the Eagles). So these episodes explore Brady’s life before his actress ex-girlfriend revealed she was pregnant right when he started dating a supermodel, before the Patriots were caught spying, before Brady started working with a coach. / energetic and controversial guru, long before we spent our lives pretending that the inflation level of a football is something we should be concerned about and a decade and a half before Brady left New England. The good thing is later, is what I’m saying, and I’m hopeful that the remaining seven episodes will give us more to hold on to.
It’s fun to relive the early years through Brady’s eyes. Perhaps most interesting here is that Brady makes it clear that he never saw himself as the underdog that he has since become. He played quarterback for a college football powerhouse and figured he’d be drafted early on the second day of the draft. His famous plummet left him largely unfazed; He still thought he would be a professional soccer player anyway, and he set about learning everything he could.
Arguably, it was important for Brady to tell his story with the help of those he most admired when the Patriots dynasty first froze. So Willie McGinest is called upon to talk about changing the franchise’s losing culture through toughness. Drew Bledsoe is here to say how much he liked Tom, as a person, but did not see him as a threat and then to look sadly at the camera as he recalls the events that led him to see Brady win the Super Bowl. before being exiled to Buffalo.
Attorney Milloy is the older statesman and team leader who is unceremoniously cut off by the ruthless Belichick, teaching Brady that professional sports really are a business (even though Brady had already forced the Patriots to make a business decision about Bledsoe). Milloy is replaced by Rodney Harrison, who became the heart of the defense. Finally, Teddy Bruschi and Mike Vrabel come together to discuss how the team leaders relentlessly pushed each other, calling themselves “The Edgers” because, well, they always pushed to the limit.
While Belichick receives extensive credit for shaping the team’s culture, he does not show up for an interview (we NEED that, someday, when it’s ready). Brady discusses his meetings with Belichick and how they dissected defenses on a player-by-player basis, but there’s no new revelation on how they got so good, so fast. That’s the general sentiment here, honestly – it’s lovely that Brady wanted to give his friends credit, but these are people we’ve heard of long before and they have little reason, at this point, to go beyond what they’ve done. previously mentioned.
Those who do well in the arena are usually able to tell their story the way they want it to be told, and by ignoring the thoughts of anyone who looked closely and saw differently, they sometimes end up avoiding what they actually did of the story. experience all the things they saw. claim it was. This kind of stark glory is integral to Brady’s version of his own story: He and the rest of the Patriots blocked the noise, he says in slightly different ways, over and over again. Maybe I wish there was more noise, now that we look back.
(Or, maybe, as someone who grew up outside of Philadelphia, I’m absolutely hurt by the way Brady regrets the way the Eagles wandered, undisturbed, at the end of Super Bowl XXXIX and lost a winnable game) .
But again, if you love soccer, and by this you can say that Tom Brady loves soccer, this will be fun. The Patriots are fascinating, even in their own words. And I think we’ll get something deep out of the series as Brady’s life (and the Patriots’ road) gets more complicated; Chopra is too good not to comply with that.
It’s just that if you want an unadorned look at the Patriots dynasty and Tom Brady’s role in it, you’re probably looking for Seth Wickersham’s book “Better to be feared.” If you’re looking for an expertly varnished version, with a custom varnish created just for Brady by a true varnish craftsman, “Man in the Arena” is what you are looking for.
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‘Man in the Arena’ is Tom Brady’s love letter to football and his teammates – EzAnime.net