Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady fills a niche in the hearts of NFL fans.
Call it the ventricle of loathing, the chamber we fill with the bilge of envy, anger, snarkiness, sneering judgment over somebody else’s success.
Especially when that somebody else is not on our team.
Brady will be starting in his 10th Super Bowl on Sunday — more than anybody (next closest quarterback is John Elway with five) — has six Super Bowl wins — more than anybody — and four Super Bowl MVP awards — yes, more than anybody.
He’s in his 21st season, has passed for 79,204 yards and 581 touchdowns and has won so many games that it just strikes many as . . . unfair.
Oh, and he’s tall and handsome (done some modeling), and he’s married to a woman (supermodel Gisele Bundchen) who has, at times, been deemed the most beautiful female on the planet.
Of course, they’re rich.
He has made tens of millions playing football, and she has, according to Forbes, made over $30 million a year during her career, with total earnings of $400 million. Brady does not even need to give her an allowance!
So, yeah, a lot of people can’t stand Mr. Perfect.
Even his current center, the wild-maned Ryan Jensen, who grew up in small-town Colorado, admits he didn’t like Brady when he was a kid.
“He was always winning and always doing really good, so you don’t really like him that much,’’ Jensen said Sunday. “People always seem to hate winners, for some reason.’’
Jensen nailed that eternal truth. But his specific beef with Brady was that Brady was always thrashing Jensen’s beloved Broncos.
Now 29, Jensen has changed course since Brady joined the Bucs last spring.
“I’m so happy to have him on my team, that’s for sure,’’ he said.
One thing Jensen has noted is Brady’s overwhelming dedication to football and his focus on even the smallest details.
One of those — hate to say it in a family forum — is butt sweat.
Brady doesn’t like it. No, he hates it. Brady has to put his hands on his center’s backside, and he wants that area dry and delicately fragrant.
In their first meeting in May, Brady told Jensen he wanted a white towel, folded twice, placed inside the center’s pants, draped down the, uh, crack and loaded with baby powder.
You could not make this up.
“It was a little uncomfortable, but just like anything, you get used to it,” Jensen said. “If that’s what Tom wants and that’s going to help him be a better quarterback, I’m gonna do what I have to do.’’
Does that make you like Brady more? Less?
How about his diet, all those vegetables, odd smoothies, electrolytes? The guy is a maniac about his regimen, which includes lots of water. Like, lots. Like up to 25 glasses a day, which is almost 13 pounds. Even Brady’s bladder submits to his will.
Brady has been a hate magnet for the better part of two decades, no question.
Part of the reason, of course, is that he played 20 years for the Patriots, under devious Darth Vader clone Bill Belichick.
Some folks didn’t like Brady’s political leanings, his Trump hat in the locker room in 2015, for instance. He awkwardly dodged a question about politics and race in a Super Bowl news conference Monday.
In a game in which most players are Black, Brady has done little to stand up for racial justice, for his teammates, if you will. He is sort of Michael Jordan bland, in that regard.
But, then again, maybe all we should ask of great athletes is that they win. Even if, in a convoluted and complex way, we hate them if they do that too well.
And Brady has done it well.
For perspective, think of the dozens of good, even great, quarterbacks who have never played in a Super Bowl. Whole teams have never been there.
Brady is white, of course. That matters in various ways.
His up-by-the-bootstraps success — he was an unathletic sixth-round draft pick — should be the stuff of lore, of inspiration. But a lot of white people dislike him because he is a convenient scapegoat, an easy target. Hating Tom Brady doesn’t change a thing. Just dis him and move on.
It’s almost the way we hate Duke basketball. Successful, edgy white guys such as Christian Laettner and Grayson Allen come to mind.
And Brady is 43. Think of that.
No quarterback in history was anywhere near as good as he is at 43. The Old Boy himself, George Blanda, played at 48, true. But he started his last game at 41 and was nothing after that.
So give Tom Brady props.
Has he done anything bad to you lately?