The greatest quarterback of this and maybe any generation also boasts the most extensive and bizarre range of products bearing his name. A visit to Tom Brady’s website reveals that his ability to throw the ball under pressure from linebackers is matched only by a desire to shill strange stuff.
From a shoulder performance kit to a can of protein powder, from a vibrating sphere to a brain-training exercise app, the New England Patriot's TB12 brand covers all commercial bases when it comes to separating gullible fans from their dollars.
"If you want proof that pliability and the TB12 Method works, I'm it," writes the 40-year-old in his new book The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Peak Performance. "Pliability is not just for elite athletes. It's for anyone who wants to live a vital life for as long as possible."
While Brady’s quirky approach to physical and mental fitness has been the subject of curiosity for some time, the questionable mini-industry that surrounds him and his anti-ageing regime came into renewed focus last week following an ESPN magazine interview.
Aside from announcing his ambition to play in and dominate the NFL until the age of 45, and appearing perversely determined to avoid all talk of the pesky issue of concussions, he also offered a glimpse into the type of junk science that informs his holistic approach to longevity.
He drinks two and a half gallons of filtered water per day and claims he’s so well hydrated his skin cannot be sunburned. Maybe it’s because every glass comes carefully laced with TB12 electrolytes, containing “72 trace minerals extracted from sea water” and available for just $15 per bottle.
He sleeps in a pair of his own line of pyjamas that have print technology inside them reflecting "far infrared" which, somehow, promotes deeper sleep and simultaneously helps your body recover faster. Just $200 from Under Armour, as it happens.
With a personal fortune near $200million, this strange and rather smug compulsion to share the secrets of his lifestyle with others, for a hefty price, has led Deadspin. com to compare Brady, his ludicrous $200 cookbook, and anti-tomato diet to the likes of Gwyneth Paltrow.
The whole farrago is made a little less risible by the prominence in all TB12 enterprises of a sinister character named Alex Guerrero. Variously introduced as Brady's body coach and business partner, some in the Boston media have dubbed him "a snake oil salesman" and the evidence suggests that's a rather charitable description.
In 2004, back when he was styling himself Dr Alejandro Guerrero on infomercials, he was flogging Supreme Greens, a nutritional supplement he announced had cured 192 people of cancer and prevented arthritis, MS, Parkinson's and even Aids. When the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) investigated it discovered none of the claims had any basis in scientific fact and, for good measure, Guerrero had only a masters in Chinese medicine from a defunct California school. He was banned for life from promoting supplements or calling himself a doctor.
Not long after that then-Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest enlisted Guerrero’s help rehabbing from injury, and he eventually introduced him to the team’s star player. The start of a beautiful and lucrative friendship.
The quarterback and the quack hit it off so well that Brady soon lent his considerable name to NeuroSafe, a wondrous concoction that Guerrero invented and marketed as “a seatbelt for the brain” because it contained minerals that allegedly promoted speedy recovery from concussion. A fantastic idea in a league with a brain injury problem except the FTC quickly forced them to withdraw it from sale because the ingredients did no such thing.
Undeterred by that embarrassing setback (Neurosafe was described as being “powered by TB12!”), the duo opened a sports therapy facility adjacent to Gillette Stadium and launched a whole range of ancillary products.
Guerrero became godfather to one of Brady’s children, and is, by all accounts, regarded as a member of his and his wife Gisele Bundchen’s extended family. He stands on the sidelines during Patriots’ games in team gear, and a photograph of an ecstatic Brady embracing him at the conclusion of last February’s epic Super Bowl comeback speaks volumes about what he thinks of this man’s role in his career.
Little wonder he has vociferously defended him in the face of increased public scepticism about the peculiar brand of voodoo he is selling.
Not since Tiger Woods regularly used the convicted human growth hormone trafficker Dr Anthony Galea, has an iconic athlete in America seemed so in thrall to a dubious guru.
Cause of alarm
Of course, in any other sport in any other country, the sight of a player with five Super Bowls turning back the clock while hanging out with a dodgy supplement peddler might be the cause of alarm. Or, at the very least, some serious questions about just how he has managing to defy the ravages of time so well that he hasn’t missed a game through injury since 2008. Not here though. Not in the NFL.
Indeed, even this past week, the relationship has garnered headlines only because there are reports that Bill Belichick, the Patriots' famously taciturn coach, is unhappy with the fact Guerrero has blamed the team's official trainers for injuries suffered to some players.
The guy who brought the world Supreme Greens and NeuroSafe knows better than everyone else. Of course he does.