An entire region rises as one to combat even the mildest slights against him.
Hordes of young men wear his work uniform like it’s some sort of divinely required religious garb.
He makes an eight-figure annual salary — and that’s before the untold fortune he earns selling Uggs and Aston Martins and magic pajamas.
If Tom Freakin’ Brady, regarded nearly universally as the greatest to ever ply his trade, feels underappreciated at work, then what hope do the rest of us have?
Asked during a Monday interview whether he feels “appropriate gratitude” from Patriots owner Robert Kraft and head coach Bill Belichick, Brady pleaded the Fifth. After the laughter died down, Brady elaborated: “I think everybody in general wants to be appreciated more,” the quarterback told Jim Gray at the Milken Institute Global Conference.
Brady quickly acknowledged that countless other people appreciate him more than he ever thought possible. But it doesn’t take a stretch worthy of Brady’s legendary pliability to infer what he meant: The National Football League’s 2017 MVP thinks his bosses maybe don’t treasure him like they should.
That makes Brady the captain of a considerably larger roster.
“I don’t think everyone feels underappreciated, but it’s true that many people do,” said Alison Green, author of the indispensable Ask A Manager blog — and now of a book by the same name, released Tuesday. “In part, it’s because we all want to feel like people recognize how hard we’re working and what we’re getting done, and no one ever pays as much attention to us as we do ourselves.”
That last bit might be less true for Brady, who has made a second career out of chronicling (and selling) his lifestyle in minute detail, but point taken: Almost 30 percent of American workers feel unappreciated, a survey by the website Payscale conducted from 2014 through 2016 found.
Naturally, salary is a driving factor. The survey found that “37 percent of employees earning less than $25,000 per year feel appreciated at work, while 67 percent of employees making more than $200,000 per year feel appreciated.”
Brady’s last contract was a two-year deal worth $41 million.
“It sounds absurd when we’re talking about the amount of money Tom Brady makes,” Green said in an e-mail, “but it’s definitely true that there are highly paid people out there who feel like their employers don’t appreciate them because they don’t listen to their ideas, seek out their input, or bother to mention something really great they pulled off recently.”
Sound like a certain disheveled, hoodie-clad NFL mastermind you know?
Green said good managers pay attention to what kinds of recognition their workers respond to, and tailor their approaches. Bad managers “don’t realize how important it is to show appreciation at all.”
So what do you do if you’re Belichick?
“With a Tom Brady, it makes sense to do some ego stroking,” Green said. “That said, depending on what goes on behind the scenes, I can imagine a point where someone — perhaps someone with a big ego of their own — might get fed up and wonder why his paycheck isn’t conveying his value.”
(Asked about keeping valued employees happy at work, a Patriots spokesman declined to comment.)
The Payscale survey sorted feelings of appreciation by state and job type. “Laundry and dry cleaning workers” — with a median salary below $20,000 — were most likely to feel underappreciated by a wide margin, topping utility meter readers, telemarketers, and correctional officers.
But in Massachusetts, a lot more workers reported feeling appreciated than in much of the country.
So where do people really feel taken for granted at work? West Virginia, where 36 percent of workers reported feeling unappreciated.
So I called Victor’s Cleaners & Launderers in Huntington, W.Va. (Victor’s has excellent online reviews, if you’re ever in the area and need a shirt pressed for some reason).
After enduring a long, semi-coherent explanation of why The Boston Globe was calling an Appalachian dry cleaner about Tom Brady, the woman who answered the phone laughed.
“I’m probably more underappreciated” than Brady, said the longtime employee, who asked that I not use her name because nobody in their right mind would talk openly about whether their employer appreciates them appropriately.
“We wait on customers, we tag in clothes, we answer the phone. We multitask, day in and day out,” she said, which amounts to “working your hind-end off.” She applied for the job because the hours and pay were a little better than the old Big Bear supermarket in town.
That was nearly 30 years ago.
“Well, I’ve raised two kids by myself,” the woman said. “That’s why I was here so long.”
It turns out America’s least-appreciated job doesn’t afford much time for thinking about this sort of thing.
They certainly don’t announce it on a stage in front of the world.
No, that luxury is reserved for the Tom Bradys of the world.Nestor Ramos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NestorARamos.