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Tom Brady hasn't gone full Tom Cruise yet, but it feels like it's heading that way

by: John Tomase on Fri, 05/19/2017 - 1:28am

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is an unflappable presence under center, but other decisions have us scratching our heads. (Ron Chenoy/USA Today Sports)In the pocket, Tom Brady is the best decision-maker in NFL history. Off the field? He could use some direction.

Nobody wants to say it because he's a god, but every peek behind the curtain reveals something we'd probably rather not see.

In the last year alone, Brady has supported Donald Trump for president, doubled down on his loyalty to shady witch doctor Alex Guerrero, partnered with self-help guru Tony Robbins, and exploited a questionable arrangement with Best Buddies. Out of respect to a region that can't take another mention of PSI, we won't cite Deflategate (but he destroyed his phone, in case you forgot).

While it would be convenient to blame these decisions on the concussions he has suffered "pretty much every [year]," according to his wife, supermodel Gisele Bundchen, let's leave any possible head trauma out of it and just consider each decision on its face. They're hard to reconcile with the image of Brady we've developed since he won his first title -- hard-working, well-spoken, humble. He can still be those things, but his reputation has taken some dings.

Start with Trump. He's a nightmare and we're all gonna die. (I may be biased). Brady lent him early legitimacy by displaying that "Make America Great Again" hat and then acting like he hadn't endorsed anyone. Knowing what we know now, Brady's support borders on unforgivable if it swayed even one voter. He knows the guy; he should've known better. Maybe the Donald can crash on his couch post-impeachment.

Then there's Guerrero. His transgressions are well-known to the FTC. He's a snake-oil salesman who has peddled products claiming to cure cancer, diabetes, AIDS, Parkinson's, among others. Giving people with terminal diseases that kind of false hope is the worst kind of evil. And yet Brady swears by him.

Even worse, he once endorsed a product that purported to protect against concussions. In light of Bundchen's disclosures in her interview on CBS This Morning -- which we should acknowledge have not been supported by a doctor -- this claim becomes even more irresponsible. If you really believe that garbage works, fine. And if you believe in Guerrero's training methods, fine. But don't sell that concussion juice to anyone else. What was he thinking?

We find ourselves asking that question a lot nowadays. It was a reasonable reaction when the Globe reported that Brady funds his personal charity with donations from Best Buddies, for whom he's a high-profile spokesman. If you want to defend how many millions he has helped raise overall, that's one thing, but don't tell me it's a good look to take $500,000 from one charity to fund your own when your family's net worth tops half a billion dollars.

Speaking of bad looks, those billboards trumpeting Brady's appearance with Robbins next month at one of the self-help guru's wealth summits have undoubtedly turned more than a few heads, not to mention stomachs.

Whether you think Robbins is a flimflam artist or the real deal, his is unquestionably the domain of the late-night infomercial. Skeptics say he's a charlatan. Why Brady is aligning himself with that brand when he's TOM FREAKING BRADY is mystifying.

But let's be honest -- it's not surprising. Will you be shocked if Brady ends up hopping around Oprah's couch like Tom Cruise in 10 years? At times, he radiates that same creepy, culty vibe.

It's totally understandable if you don't care about any of this and appreciate Brady solely for his gifts on the field. If Brady wants to make Leo-in-Titanic poses alongside Robbins or swear off tomatoes to please Guerrero, more power to him. What makes these revelations so surprising is how at-odds they are with his carefully honed public persona. Over his first 15 or so seasons, I'm not sure he ever said the wrong thing. These recent PR hits have piled up like so many sacks.

The good news is the Patriots open against the Chiefs on Sept. 7 with the unveiling of another banner. Once the season starts, we can return our focus to Brady the football player, because the more we learn otherwise, the less we want to know.