Much of the joy we derive from Tom Brady is in trying to imagine his day-to-day life from its superlative glory to its mundane mechanics. Few people have ever experienced an existence as unique as the notoriously private Super Bowl MVP’s. Winning rings. Marrying wealthy super models. Throwing bombs to Randy Moss. Probably hanging out with Randy Moss on at least one occasion.
One time I personally witnessed Brady reach in his suit pocket during a press conference and yank out a $50 bill. He had no idea it was there. His face lit up like he’d just proven the Ideal Gas Law. Every single thing in this guy’s life is coming up Milhouse all of the time.
Unfortunately, most of what we actually know about Brady is what we see on the field, in Federal Court, and through rare, carefully crafted media engagements. We’re mostly left to fill in blanks with conjecture of private jets, luxury resorts and all-to-sparse, emotionally satisfying words of fleeting validation from Bill Belichick. ((“Good job, Tommy,” we imagine the Coach telling him as he stuffs his hands back into his gray, hooded sweatshirt and then cuts off all eye contact until the Patriots win another Super Bowl.))
Therefore, it comes with great surprise that Brady just handed over a large trove of information concerning his diet. The entire world is calling it a $200 cookbook, but Brady, in this stealth infomercial with GQ Magazine, insists that it is something more. He’s calling it the “TB12 Nutrition Manual,” begging the questions: “What is TB12?” and “What is a Nutrition Manual?”
Until this week, it seemed safe to presume that TB12 was a rare strain of antibiotic-resistant staphylococcus swabbed from the champagne room of a shuttered Tampa Bay strip club. Turns out, no. TB12, the alphanumeric conglomeration of Brady’s initials and jersey number, is the quarterback’s brand. That brand represents some kind of sports health clinic in Foxboro, Mass., where we presume world-class nutrition experts tell you exactly how many Wheaties you’re supposed to eat on game day. It’s also the kind of place (probably) where trainers spend a lot of time talking about “fast-twitch muscles,” and everyone pretends like they’ve never heard of Cousin Yuri. The TB12 store also sells brand apparel, giant tubs of protein and $15 bottles of “electrolytes.” So, there you have it. TB12.
A Nutrition Manual, as it happens, is a $200 cookbook.
This particular $200 cookbook tries to justify its price tag with high-end aesthetic features like a wooden cover, 10-pound paper and the always-classy, “laser etching.” The end result is what appears to be the work of a 10th-grader who tore the cover off his health book and glued up some plywood in a desperate attempt to evade detention. Plus laser etching.
The concept behind this book is deeply flawed. It presumes that Tom Brady’s physique begs a $200 explanation. This is simply not true. Brady has a somewhat doughy body for a professional athlete. He ranks somewhere between Eli Manning and Aaron Rodgers on the list of QB Beach Bodies. If his diet laid out on 10-pound paper is worth $200, then Chris Evans could issue one pamphlet containing a day’s worth of entrees and sell it Wu-Tang style for $2 million.
Nonetheless, a Tom Brady cookbook is worth at least $200. This is not because we want to improve our physical appearance. No, actual body-sculpting diet plans come cheap. Every week, another massive and ripped celebrity publicly reveals at no cost the secret to looking like a superhero: Just don’t ever stop eating cod or salmon, except during the parts of the day when you are using all of your muscles. That’s it. That’s the secret.
No, a Tom Brady cookbook is worth $200 because it fills in those precious blanks about Brady’s incomparable life. Without this book, we would have no idea that avocado ice cream brings Tom Brady great joy. With this book, we can make our own avocado ice cream and indulge in the fantasy that Bill Belichick will give us that much-deserved pat on the back for throwing 50 touchdown passes in a single season. The fact that this book contains 89 separate recipes, subdivided into seasonal categories, means we now know when Tom Brady most enjoys his sweet potato. Savory details of that magnitude are the reason this book sold out before you even knew it existed. To pose the question of whether it is worth $200 is to ignore the truth that it is priceless.
Dave Brown is a writer and a business attorney in Boston, MA. If he wrote a nutritional cookbook, he would most certainly have to pay people to read it.