(This story was published in 2007).
By: Evan Pohl
Even if you don’t follow the National Football League, you must be living under a rock if you haven’t noticed New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and his recent cavalcade of homoerotic publicity. The oversight is somewhat understandable. For some gay men, gridiron stud-buckets of the NFL may not register high on the queer agenda, but you’ve no doubt sensed his presence at the newsstand during your weekly raid of skin rags at the local Barnes & Noble. This guy has been everywhere lately and not just among the usual suspects, like Sports Illustrated or Men’s Journal. As of late, Brady has been making waves and leaving more hearts shuffled thanworldpokertour.com, appearing between the pages of some of the most popular magazines in circulation with a significant gay readership.
In June, Brady was featured on the cover of Details, the sexually evasive monthly that playfully casts articles like “How To Please Your Wife” and “Why Bud Is Better Than Coors” alongside boner-inducing pictorials of Hollywood’s latest It Boys. The Massachusetts beefcake tore up the pages in an understated blue-and-white rugby polo for photographer Doug Inglish. With his well-trained guns resting ever so casually on his knees, he looked like a prep boy’s wet dream.
Two months later, in August, Brady was lauded by Esquire in their fourth-annual Best Dressed Men In The World list, singled out for his “All-American Kennedy-clan suits” and devastatingly rugged good looks. In September, GQgot in on the action and shot its Brady wad. In celebration of the publication’s 50th anniversary, the Pats QB was short-listed as one of the 50 most stylish men of the last 50 years, an honor that earned him another cover alongside such notably natty men as Paul Newman and John F. Kennedy.
Later that same month, he snagged yet another cover, this time for VMan, a fashion-focused lifestyle magazine for the modern day metrosexual (Those In Denial and Who Pretend We Don’t Notice). The salacious spread featured Brady parading around in little more than a soggy Hanes undershirt and a slick set of pigskin-conditioned pecs. The combination of his rakish grin and wet T-shirt made it seem as though he had just left the set of Falcon’s latest flick “Inside My Huddle” without so much as a shower.
In addition, countrified duds-dealer Stetson just outfitted the three-time Super Bowl champion in full Brokeback regalia to launch their men’s cologne,Stetson Man, for the upcoming holiday season. The print ads have been making the rounds on the blogosphere and are blitzing the pages of virtually every men’s circular. As you can see, it’s no exaggeration to say that right now Brady’s more sought after than WMDs in 2002.
But why all the attention? Sure, the guy is arguably the best looking player in the NFL, but he’s not the only hot jock on the field. Take celebrated Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning, for instance. Although he doesn’t have Brady’s smoldering good looks and raw sexual appeal, he’d have no problem making friends at the Folsom Street Fair, if you know what I mean. New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush could give Brady a run for his money, too. Have you seen him out of his BDUs? That guy’s so cut he could make a stained glass window look like a kindergartener’s finger painting! And what about Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo? With that sexy swagger and mean pair of dimples, he gets the boys more worked up than a lifetime membership to Sean Cody.
But here’s the thing: No matter how good-looking those guys are, they can’t touch Brady’s massive appeal. Why? Because -- dimples, abs and touchdowns aside -- those boys only reach one demographic, and that’s the straight one. Brady, on the other hand, successfully bridges the gap between football’s sexually diverse fans, attracting both straights and gays, without getting caught in the crossfire of sexual politics.
It’s not hard to see why the gay community loves Tom Brady. First, he’s effing hot. The man makes us drool and not just from our mouths. Second, he isn’t afraid to subvert the image of the masculine athlete. Do you think Junior Seau would go shirtless for a homoerotic rag, like Brady did? Probably not. Would LeBron James, also like Brady, entertain offers to be the next underwear model for Calvin Klein? No way. The truth is most pro athletes go to great lengths to distance themselves from homoeroticism, whereas Brady, on the other hand, embraces it. He’s not afraid to invite a little harmless male flirtation, and we love the hell out of him for it.
Straight men, however, admire him for a very different reason. For one, Brady is leading the best team in the NFL. The undefeated Patriots look to be well on their way to another Super Bowl win, and that is mainly the result of their QB’s record-setting efforts. For another, Brady’s quite a lothario. His extracurricular activities off the field are legendary, to put it lightly. Currently he’s dating Brazilian supermodel Gisele Bündchen, the one woman who unequivocally drives straight men up the proverbial wall and -- let’s be honest -- even some of us gays would switch teams for. Equally as impressive, before Bündchen there was “Sex and the City” fox Bridget Monahan, whom Brady dated for two years before ditching her for the Victoria’s Secret model. Oh, and Monahan was pregnant when they split, which, sadly, only bolsters his cred among the lady-loving crowd. In short, to straight men, he’s a goddamn stud.
And there it is. In his pocket he’s got the straights who want to be him and the gays who want to be with him.
This kind of overwhelming popularity speaks to a growing trend in professional sports. With superstars like David Beckham and Ben Cohen openly expressing their admiration for their gay fan bases, the threat of homosexuality in athletics is waning. These guys understand something most pro athletes have yet to learn: We, as gay men, are a demographic that matters. There’s no question it will be a long time before the stigma is completely absolved, but if Brady’s recent foray into homophilia is any indication of the future it’ll be well worth the wait.
Evan Pohl writes the blog, Just a Gay Boy