End Around: Tom Brady is kind of weird...and that's OK

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Let's talk about Tom Brady.

On the surface, the Patriots quarterback may be the essential American sports icon -- or at least the purest distillation of the form since Joe DiMaggio was patrolling center field for the Yankees. Brady is insanely talented, endlessly successful, unspeakably wealthy, supremely handsome and universally respected. He even has the beautiful wife who is more famous than he is, just like Joltin' Joe. Brady is a legendary football player, but many of his best traits as an athlete have developed over time. In other words, Tom Brady worked his butt off to become the American dream.

When your greatest crime against humanity is a "general awareness" of deflated footballs, you are living a pretty chaste existence.

Brady can coast on this combination of luck, hard work and achievement until his dying day. Iconic athletes have done it for decades in this country. But you have to respect that Tom Brady doesn't want to be Captain America. He's OK with letting his freak flag fly. I mean, he's not Phil Spector or anything. But Tom Brady is a little bit weird!

We see this in Brady's wild health and fitness regiment, which has kept him at the top of his game well into his 30s. For evidence, please consult this Boston.com profile on Brady's personal chef. (Prepare to be educated on the relative merits of Himalayan pink salt.)

But what I really want to focus on today is Brady's life as a pitch man. His long-standing -- and still surprising -- bond with UGGs is well documented. It's become a personal Brady crusade to prove that UGGs are not just for 17-year-old girls in 2005, but frankly, I'm not sure if he's moved the needle there. Other efforts have been more persuasive. He starred in an unsettling ad for Under Armour, in which an army of Tom Bradys prepare for a war where semi-automatic weapons are traded in for pigskins. We know Brady to be a miracle worker on the field of battle, but I don't like his chances here.

That's a disquieting commercial for me. But that's nothing compared to Brady's most recent work, a fever dream designed to sell mattresses.

"Be Like Mike" it ain't.

Brady has agents and assistants and advisers and brand managers. There's also Doug, who's shadowing Keith. I am fascinated that the treatment for the mattress commercial was embraced at Brady headquarters:

Well-Compensated Handler: "So Tom, in this ad, you'll be led through a mansion in what appears to be purgatory, or possibly a manageable version of hell. An old creep will accompany you to a hidden room, where you'll be locked away with a single mattress that is absent linens or any other extravagance. You'll tell the creep this is exactly what you're looking for."
Brady: "Do I get to wear my turtleneck?"
W-CH: "Duh. Of course."
Brady: "I'm in."

In an age when many pro athletes will do anything to earn acceptance, Tom Brady is trying to make himself more inaccessible. TB12 is a subversive son-of-a-gun.

Perhaps this is what happens when you hit a certain level of fame. Michael Jackson got a new face and bought a monkey. Prince built a fortress of solitude and changed his name to a symbol. Kanye moved to Calabasas and put out an album called Yeezus. Brady chooses to hit out against his own towering iconography by starring in avant-garde commercials that play like deleted scenes from The Shining.

The question is whether this is the extent of Brady's quirkiness or just the beginning of a long, strange trip. I can't tell which one I'm rooting for more.

Welcome to the Around The NFL End Around, a weekly look back at the world of the National Football League. Dan Hanzus serves as your guide.

Mark Sanchez seems like a fun guy

Mark Sanchez never became the successor to Broadway Joe and he might end up keeping the Broncos from repeating as Super Bowl champs. But the Sanchize continues to seem like a good time. Case in point: Sanchez was one of the army of NFL players, coaches and front-office types who attended the Kentucky Derby last weekend. (Seriously, the Derby has become the NFL's version of Coachella in recent years, right down to the fact that everybody goes there to play dress up and pays little attention to the actual event.)

Sanchez rolled in with a cane (pimp) that also acted as a sneaky flask (double pimp). Rex Ryan wrote in his autobiography that he held on to Sanchez's draft card because he knew he'd want it framed in his home one day. I doubt that ever happened, but I'd be happy to display the card in my own abode. The dude owns a walking stick that can get you drunk. Mark Sanchez gets it.

Congrats to Cro

Antonio Cromartie and his wife, Terricka, welcomed twins into the world on Mother's Day. For Cro, Jynx and J'adore make it four children with his wife -- and an even dozen when you include the offspring he's spawned with other past women in his life. The newest addition to the family came despite the fact that Cromartie had previously undergone a vasectomy, which ... man. Damn.

As you might imagine, Cromartie is catching a ton of heat in the cultural cesspool that is a Twitter mention feed. Credit to Cromartie for shutting down the haters.

This man has a better outlook on life than you'd expect from someone who reportedly owes $336K annually in child support. Somebody give him a job! Seriously. This man needs steady income.

Down with laser beams

When I was in school, it was the move of a braggart to get the laser background for your class picture. It was just another up-sell from Big Photo that Mama Hanzus was never going to sign off on.

That's the image of a working class man. A Springsteen song in image form.

Is this really going to happen?

It couldn't ... right? Right?! All I know is that papa is smiling down at his son. This is a page straight out of the Al Davis handbook of NFL s***-stirring.

Tweet Of The Week

I've never had more fun watching a basketball player than when Steph Curry is doing his thing. He's insane. It must be secretly annoying for Charlotte sports fans to watch Curry constantly connect with their city (Curry grew up in Charlotte) but get none of the fruits of that association. Between Super Bowl 50 and the UNC-Villanova NCAA final, North Carolina has surely had its fill of almost being champions. Curry is another reminder.

Quote of the Week

"Haven't really thought about it that way. Never really cared about other people's names. I don't know what we'll do. We'll figure it out. I have seniority, so we can call him E.A. or Apple maybe. I don't know. Call me Elisha, maybe, switch to my official full name. I dunno."

-- Eli Manning, with a fine suggestion in avoiding confusion with first-round pick Eli Apple, now a member of the Giants

Umlauts forever

Lemmy is dead. Mötley Crüe is retired. Someone had to carry on the legacy of the umlaut to future generations of Americans. It's fitting that a German man is keeping the dots connected to the national consciousness.

One issue: The Vikings are selling their Moritz Böhringer jerseys in their team shop. Will the team offer any refunds if they cut the guy in three months? Because I kind of feel like there should be a return or exchange policy if they sell jerseys of a player who never actually makes the team. TRACKING.

Until next time ...

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