This year, for obvious reasons, Adobe was unable to convene its annual conference as usual, and so streamed it online Tuesday instead. Part of the offering was a nine-minute video featuring Tom Brady, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ new quarterback and a guy who believes drinking a lot of water can prevent sunburn. Throughout most of it, he explained his success, and the success others can have by emulating him, in terms of football cliches. “The playbook is important,” he said. “You’ve gotta have the vision. You’ve gotta have the playbook to pull from.” In the last 30 seconds of the video, the discussion took a turn.
“Balance is important in all things, and I think you see a recalibration of things happen all the time,” he said. “I think we're in the midst of a big recalibration right now. Maybe the world is telling us to slow down a little bit, you know? Everyone needs to chill out and recalibrate some of their priorities. And I think this world is moving at a very fast pace, so we better find ways to recalibrate or else, you know, it's amazing how the world finds a way when it’s needed to do just that.”
Given that it involves the deaths of potentially millions and the reordering of society, a basic question comes to mind: Is Brady talking about the novel coronavirus here? If not, what is he talking about? If so, does he really think that COVID-19 is the world’s way of telling people to "chill out" and “recalibrate” their priorities? Does he think it’s succeeding?
In search of answers, VICE asked these questions of some of the brands and institutions associated with Brady. There are a lot: In addition to his football exploits, after all, Brady—a good friend of Donald Trump—is a successful entrepreneur and thinkfluencer whose fear of nightshades and endorsements of such products as pajamas with natural bioceramics printed in them that purportedly reflect the body’s heat as infrared energy to promote recovery have helped him create something of a GOOP-for-guys-who-wear-boat-shoes empire. Sadly, their answers were not illuminating.
Nelson Luis, vice-president of communications for Brady’s team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, said:
“I was not aware of the video until your email. This is not something we have been involved with since Tom just joined our team less than a week ago. Due to the current situation, we have not yet begun working directly with Tom. I would suggest you check in with his management team that handles his appearance schedule as they may be able to provide some context to your questions.
“I would recommend connecting with Stephanie Jones and/or Jaclyn Reilly (copied here) with the Jonesworks agency that works directly with Tom to see if they would be able to assist you or provide added clarity.”
VICE had already reached out to Jonesworks, a public-relations firm that represents Brady and other celebrities including Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Venus Williams. The company’s founder, Stephanie Jones, spoke to VICE in a phone call she insisted stay off the record. After the call, she sent a statement in which she declined to say whether Brady’s discourse on whether the world was telling everyone to “chill out” specifically referenced the COVID-19 pandemic:
“This is a real stretch of taking someone’s words out of context for click bait. We wont [sic] be offering a comment.”
Adobe did not respond to a request for comment. Under Armour, which sells Brady’s special pajamas, also did not respond to a request for comment.
Brady’s representative and team and two key brand partners are unwilling or unable to explain what he was talking about. Thus, questions remain. Was he not talking about the COVID-19 pandemic? If not, what exactly was he talking about? Is he onto the “cleanse the earth of humans” rhetoric of ecofascists? Has he just been watching a ton of YouTube?
We have no idea, but would like to be able to answer these questions. If you work with or are close to—or are—Tom Brady, please get in touch.
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.