New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is, even though many outside of the northeast may want to dispute it, the face of the NFL. He is the best and most successful player at the game’s most important position. He is the ultimate underdog story. And he has become – or rather: was made – one of the most polarizing athletes in the league.
Love him or hate him, Brady is the superstar in a league full of superstars. And as such his stardom extends beyond the scope of the NFL – for instance, to TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people. A handful of athletes are part of the list that include the full range of public and social life from politicians to actors to innovators to activists.
Among the athletes listed are two NFL players: Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback and current free agent Colin Kaepernick and Tom Brady. While Kaepernick, who made waves for protesting during the National Anthem, is listed as an "icon", the reigning Super Bowl MVP can be found under the category of "titan".
As a "titan" Brady is joined by the likes of economist Janet Yellen, scientists George Church and James Allison, Amazon-founder Jeff Bezos and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, among others. The following paragraph, written by late night host and Patriots fan Conan O’Brien, explains why Brady finds himself in such illustrious and diverse group of influentials:
With a monastic diet, intense training and a relentless, inspiring positivity, Tom built himself from the ground up. Great people, like mountain ranges, can feel inevitable, but Tom Brady didn't have to be this good. He simply refused to be less than the best ever [...]
Over the course of his career, Brady has time and again shown an uncanny ability to defy odds and master challenges in front of him. Whether it is the distraction and subsequent suspension during the Deflategate saga, an ill parent or climbing back from a 28-3 deficit in the Super Bowl, the 39-year old has overcome it to become what he is: The greatest quarterback of all time and an example for what people can achieve if they work hard and stay focused.