April 26, 2019

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How Tom Brady Became New England’s Favorite Adopted Son

How Tom Brady Became New England’s Favorite Adopted Son
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He holds the records for most N.F.L. victories as a starting quarterback (207), most playoff wins (29), most Super Bowl victories by a player (five) and most Super Bowl Most Valuable Player Awards (four).

That will breed a lot of loyalty. Brady, for example, is 41 and has been in the N.F.L. for 19 years. You might think that any fan who wanted a replica of his No. 12 jersey would have purchased one by now.

Apparently not.

Merchandise bearing Brady’s name was the top-selling N.F.L. apparel item this season, with the Boston market driving sales. Since the Patriots clinched their berth in Sunday’s Super Bowl, Brady merchandise has been selling faster — by 40 percent — than it did in the week before any of his previous eight Super Bowl appearances, according to Fanatics, the largest online seller of licensed sports merchandise.

He is also married to one of the highest paid models in the world. There is little doubt that part of Brady’s crossover appeal is the understanding that he is the rare N.F.L. superstar whose spouse may be more famous than he is.

Brady is chasing his sixth Super Bowl championship and seems to have secured his spot on the Boston sports version of Mount Rushmore. There is still room there for Williams, Bill Russell and (genuflect) Bobby Orr. Fans of Bird will make their case.

But the only person who could possibly unseat Brady is Bill Belichick, who admittedly already has a face of stone. He first landed in New England as a teenager during a postgraduate year at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., then attended Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn.

Realistically, no one is likely to eclipse Brady. Two years ago, a Boston cultural museum unveiled a Brady wax figure (next to dozens of nonsports icons of the area). The representation of Brady was deemed creepy, and elicited more ire and wrath than the unworthy courtroom sketch did.

Which means only one thing: In five or 10 years, when civic leaders erect a Tom Brady statue, they better get the visage right. And drape him in his No. 12 jersey.

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