I am a fan of the Atlanta Falcons. That means that I’ve seen a lot of ugly losses. None were uglier than the one in the Super Bowl a couple of years ago when the Falcons blew a 28 to 3 lead to Tom Brady and the New England Patriots. I still haven’t recovered.
Of all the people on the planet who you might expect to come to the defense of Tom Brady, I’m at the end of the line. Well, I was. It's funny how a picture changes things.
Some controversial photos of Brady were released recently. No, he wasn’t doing something inappropriate. He wasn’t caught taking air out of footballs. He wasn’t kicking his dog or getting duped by Sacha Baron Cohen.
So what exactly was the NFL’s greatest quarterback doing?
He had his shirt off and he was on the beach.
Yes, that’s it.
Perhaps you’re wondering why Brady is catching so much heat for doing something that millions of us do every summer. Therein lies the problem. Tom Brady isn’t like millions of us. He’s not of this world, allegedly. But with his shirt off, he looks like a regular guy.
Oh the humanity!
Some people on Twitter went so far as to accuse Brady of being out of shape. Others called him goofy. All because he didn't look like one of the models on the cover of a fitness magazine. I know that it’s hard to imagine people on Twitter making outlandish and resentful statements so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.
The real issue here is not Tom Brady’s torso. It’s our culture’s fascination with appearance. We worship a god called Six Pack Abs. This false god’s primary medium of communicating with his followers is airbrush and photoshop. He is a brutal deity who has no time for regular folks. He demands perfection and smirks at average bodies.
Tom Brady is entering his 19th season in the NFL. He’s been in 7 Super Bowls. Last year, he threw for 4,500 yards and enjoyed the 3rd highest completion percentage of his career. But somehow, the Twitter Trolls push all of that to the side when Tom Brady commits the crime of going shirtless while not looking like The Rock.
There is something for us to learn from all of this. Many people carry a heaven burden that has been placed on them by either their quest for or society’s love of six pack abs, a small this or a bigger that. But here’s a reality you’re not likely to hear at the gym. Get ready for it.
You can live a completely fulfilled life in an average body.
The new mom who is worried about getting back into her pre-pregnancy clothes needs to know that her true identity is not ultimately found in a number, whether that number is on a scale or on her jeans. And the 40-year-old man who eats right and works out but for some reason still looks like a 40-year-old man needs to rejoice in 40 years of life rather than carrying on under a black cloud of shame for not looking like the 20-year-old at his gym or in a movie.
I’m sure that Tom Brady could not possibly care less about what someone on Twitter says about his physique. He’s got better things to do, like count his Super Bowl trophies—one of which caused me great personal anguish.
You should be the same way. Whether the voice of condemnation is coming from someone online or from inside your own head, stop listening. Just enjoy your God-given, photoshop-free life.
So whether you have six-pack abs or something more closely resembling a keg, just remember that when your life is over, what was going on inside of your heart will matter much more than what you had underneath your shirt.