There are plenty of reasons to dislike Tom Brady — if you’re not a New England Patriots fan, that is. Mr. Brady, now 42 and into his 20th season in the NFL, is setting a new standard for what aging athletes can accomplish. Even in an era when Roger Federer is still winning major tennis tournaments at 38, Mr. Brady stands out. The nearly superhuman quarterback has led the Pats to six Super Bowl championships — picking up three NFL MVP awards and four Super Bowl MVPs in the process. His consistent ability to perform in the clutch is amazing.
Mr. Brady also presents an image of discipline and a life well lived. He’s married to a Brazilian supermodel. His training regimen is legendary. And he dresses like he just stepped out of a J.Crew catalog.
But according to a professor here in Rhode Island, something more sinister lurks behind the man who is arguably the greatest quarterback in football history.
“A University of Rhode Island professor writes in a new book that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady’s portrayal in media and popular culture, including Brady’s own representations of himself, aligns with ‘white nationalist post-racialism,” The Providence Journal reported in a Sept. 27 news story (“URI prof sees link between Tom Brady’s image and ‘white nationalist post-racialism’”).
Kyle Kusz, an associate professor of English, argues that Mr. Brady embodies “white nationalism” in both his media representations and his apparently friendly relationship with President Donald Trump. The two, after all, have golfed together.
The professor’s musings read like “trolling” — writing something deliberately obtuse in order to elicit a reaction from an audience. He suggests, for instance, that an Under Armour advertisement that Tom Brady appears in hearkens back to the infamous Nazi propaganda film “Triumph of the Will.” The notion that selling underwear is tantamount to engaging in genocide is beneath even arguing with.
Professor Kusz also writes that the documentary “The Brady 6,” which charts Tom Brady’s rise, reifies “myths” surrounding American meritocracy. But of course, if there is any pure meritocracy in America it is precisely in sports: People almost always rise and fall based on what they produce. According to Professor Kusz, it is also disturbing that Mr. Brady has, along with tens of thousands of other Americans, attended the Kentucky Derby on occasion.
Could Professor Kusz be a Colts or Steelers fan?
His arguments have led some to wonder exactly what is being taught at URI and whether students are wise to go deep into debt paying tuition and board for this kind of education. Colleges should be places where various perspectives may be freely aired, exposing students to different ways of looking at things. But increasingly, colleges are promoting a strain of thought that finds fault with almost everything about America, and seems divorced from common sense and plain reality. Indeed, these ideas seem to be rapidly moving beyond the power of parody.
If there is any figure more beloved by New England sports fans than Mr. Brady, it would have to be David Ortiz, the former Red Sox slugger, who happens to be a black man who grew up poor in the Dominican Republic. Mr. Brady is admired by fans the world over for his performance on the field, not because of his race.
A longer version of this editorial first appeared in The Providence (R.I.) Journal, a News Herald sister paper with GateHouse Media. (The News Herald has no official position on Tom Brady, although we do love a good Giants-Patriots matchup.)