Opinion

JOAN VENNOCHI

For Tom Brady, outrage is another way to sell the product

Tom Brady trains in “Tom vs. Time.”
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Tom Brady trains in “Tom vs. Time.”

You think Tom Brady’s the best at football? He’s also the best at marketing Tom Brady.

This time he did it by cutting off a phone call during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s “Kirk & Callahan” morning program over a snarky comment made about his five-year-old daughter. His abrupt hang-up, plus his questioning of his future relationship with WEEI, got Alex Reimer, the snidely-in-training who uttered the insult, placed on indefinite suspension.

When Brady arrived in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl run-up, he said he doesn’t want Reimer to be fired. Nice touch, Tom. Meanwhile, Brady’s diva act put an even bigger spotlight on “Tom vs Time,” a documentary posted on Facebook Watch.

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The three episodes I watched highlight Brady’s obsession with football, his body, and his desire to win. Some scenes briefly feature Brady’s children, which is what triggered Reimer’s description of Brady’s daughter as an “annoying little pissant.” In the film, daughter Vivian seems like a typical little girl, demanding her dad’s attention. But whatever the reaction, as Howard Stern put it, if Brady didn’t want people to talk about her, he should have left her out of the documentary. “I’ve got to stick up for radio guys, because number one, you’re on the air and it’s not like there’s a script,” Stern said on Sirius XM radio. “But for God’s sake, Tom Brady should know better. If you’re going to put your young child on a TV show, on the Internet, you’re putting her out there for comment.” Stern’s right about that.

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Most of “Tom vs Time” showcases a great-looking creature from a planet that bears little resemblance to the one occupied by the rest of us. When he’s not getting stretched and massaged, Brady is committed to punishing exercise, a relentless diet of healthy shakes, and endless scrutiny of game film. He’s eternally pained by the loss of a single game and can’t envision life without a stadium filled with screaming fans. Yes, it makes him dedicated, disciplined, and great. But you have to be a pro athlete or a supermodel, like Brady’s wife Gisele, to appreciate the utter self-absorption involved in his quest to play football into his 40s.

The New England Patriots pride themselves on devotion to team. So the pre-Super Bowl release of an all-about-Tom documentary feels a bit off, even with scenes of Brady working out with teammates and celebrating their amazing victories. In fact, Brady’s obviously loving relationship with his children comes across as the most relatable thing about him. Maybe that’s why he flipped attention to his daughter.

Because, when it comes to commentary about females on WEEI, “pissant” is no big deal. So it’s funny that a throwaway phrase, involving a word that most listeners probably had to Google, created such a storm. Supposedly the line Reimer crossed involves disparaging talk about a five-year-old. But let’s be honest. He’s in trouble because the five-year-old is Brady’s daughter. Any threat of losing Brady as a regular guest is a threat to access and audience. The show thrives on pushing the envelope, not pushing the greatest quarterback of all time off its air. Then, the bottom line trumps the First Amendment.

Stern, who famously makes a living out of shocking radio talk, advises Brady to “take a deep breath, go and see the psychiatrist, and say, ‘Hey, I overreacted.’ ”

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I’m no psychiatrist, but I don’t think it was overreaction as much as calculation.

On the field and off, Brady truly is master of his own universe.

Joan Vennochi can be reached at vennochi@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @Joan_Vennochi.