COMMENTARY| It would be hard to refute that New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady isn't one of the most successful to ever play the position in the NFL. On top of that, he has always seemed like a fairly personable guy. For those reasons alone, the hatred that is often directed his way makes little sense.
Now in his 14th season, all spent with the Patriots, Brady has put together quite the resume. He has a career record of 141-41 during the regular season, passing for 46,514 yards and 342 touchdowns against just 128 interceptions. He has also led the team to five Super Bowls (winning three) and has been named to eight Pro Bowls.
He didn't come to his success easily, as he was just a sixth-round draft choice out of the University of Michigan in 2000.
He took over for an injured Drew Bledsoe as New England's starting quarterback two games into the 2001 season and has never looked back.
In addition to everything he has accomplished on the field, he has been just as successful off it. He is married to Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bundchen, and has made a second career of sorts from modeling and working as a spokesperson.
Successful players like Brady can often inflame the passions of their opponents and fans, but there is typically at least a grudging respect. However, it seems as the veteran quarterback progresses with his career, he has encountered a growing amount of vitriol.
The most recent example of the negativity directed at Brady was a survey conducted by Forbes ranking the most disliked players in the NFL. He clocked in as the eighth-most unpopular player in the league, trailing only (in ascending order) Michael Vick, Manti Te'o, Ndamukong Suh, Ben Roethlisberger, Mark Sanchez, Jay Cutler and Tony Romo.
The poll was an online survey of 1,110 random participants over the age of 13 from around the United States, with 25 percent expressing disdain for the Patriots quarterback.
Tom Van Piper, who wrote an accompanying article with the poll, suggests Brady has gained in unpopularity because of people's inability to find common ground with him. "The three-time Super Bowl winner is blessed with looks, talent and a model wife, and makes about $7 million annually in endorsements, but he clocks in with a 25 percent dislike score. Then again, maybe it's not so surprising. When you have everything, a lot of people can't identify."
It seems that players from opposing teams often express their disdain for the Patriots, with New York Jets offensive lineman Willie Colon being the most recent example. While Brady may not always be specifically called out, he has been the face of the franchise for over a decade and is presumably a big reason why opponents can't contain their contempt for the team.
Other players have simply said they don't like Brady. The most prominent example has been Baltimore Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs. He has taken shots at the quarterback through the media dating back years.
Most recently, BaltimoreRavens.com's Sarah Ellison wrote about an interview Suggs gave to ESPN's E:60. When asked what he thought of Brady, he responded, "I don't think that's appropriate for camera. I don't like him, he don't like me. I don't like his hair."
"Everyone just seems to worship the guy so much, Suggs continued. "Not me, though."
As evidenced by the Forbes poll, hating Brady has become a cottage industry among. Random examples include:
A YouTube video of a young boy screaming about how he hates the quarterback went viral and has drawn over 2.4 million views to date.
A Facebook fan page titled "I hate Tom Brady" has over 10,000 likes.
There are two things that many seem to hold against Brady, with neither being in his control.
The first is the infamous "Tuck Rule game," which happened in the 2001 AFC Championship game against the Oakland Raiders. What looked to be a sure fumble by Brady was reversed by referees because of the then-obscure tuck rule (which has since been eliminated), leading to the Patriots coming back to win and going on the Super Bowl.
The second is the eponymous "Brady Rule." This came about after the signal caller missed all but the first two quarters of the first game of the 2008 season because of a severe knee injury caused by a defender diving at his legs. As described by The Boston Globe's Christopher Gasper, this led to the NFL Competition Committee implementing a rule change making lunging at a quarterback's knees a penalty if done by an unblocked defender.
Although Brady didn't orchestrate either instance, he has assumed the responsibility for any resulting fallout.
Others like Joe Montana and Derek Jeter are similar in being good looking, extremely successful athletes who can't seem to lose in any aspect of their lives. For whatever reason, they have always remained in the general good graces of their opponents and the public; something that has escaped Brady.
It's nearly impossible to be liked by everybody, especially someone as widely known as Brady. Players and fans should obviously make up their own minds about him but it should be based in sound reasoning. In a strange way, his unpopularity is a sign of respect. However, it seems like he has done more than enough to not have to receive it in such a back-handed way.
In addition to the Yahoo Contributor Network, Andrew Martin has written extensively for Bleacher Report and a number of print publications and websites on the topics of history and sports (particularly the Boston Red Sox and New England Patriots). He also produces his own blog and has appeared on various sports talk shows and podcasts.
You can also follow Andrew on Twitter: @HistorianAndrew.
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