Tom Brady and Joe Namath discussed how the media spotlight has changed

Tom Brady believes social media can be empowering for an athlete.
Tom Brady believes social media can be empowering for an athlete.Matthew J. Lee/Globe Staff/Globe Staff

Instead of doing his usual one-on-one interview with Jim Gray of Westwood One Sports, Tom Brady was joined by Jets Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath on Monday night.

The two traded stories about Super Bowls, and compared the “disciplinarian” style of coaches Bill Belichick and Paul “Bear” Bryant (who coached Namath in college).

An interesting line of conversation occurred when Brady asked Namath — known in his prime as “Broadway Joe” for his celebrity status — how he would deal with exponentially increased media coverage (as well as social media) in 2019.

“Well, I know I would be more involved,” Namath explained. “Yesteryear of course there might be three or four reporters after a practice. I don’t get into social media so much today. I do my little bit of tweeting now and then. But I tried FaceTime or Facebook, but that beat me up, man. Took too much of my time.”

“It is a different world,” Namath continued. “Everyone having a phone that you can take pictures with. Yesteryear, I really felt lucky in Manhattan being able to keep a low profile at times. I used to marvel at Willis Reed, for example, these basketball players that were 6-foot-9, 6-foot-8, and I’d wonder, ‘Man, how do these guys ever keep a low profile? They can’t!’ So I was able to stay below the radar when I felt like it. Today, I don’t think I’d feel that comfortable.”


Brady contrasted it with how he approaches social media in 2019.

“Well I’d say the challenging part today is there are so many people seeking a headline,” said Brady. “And if you say one thing that’s taken out of context it becomes blown up in a way that takes on a life of its own. When they take the context out of what you say, it becomes very distracting or very distressing, especially in a team environment when you’re trying not to cause distractions.


Given the increased platform that Brady’s success has garnered, the 42-year-old quarterback has become increasingly cautious about what he’s said.

“Unfortunately over the years, I think I’ve gotten more protective of what I’m saying because there is a lack of trust in speaking your mind because people aren’t interested in context,” said Brady. “They’re going to take what they want to make their story, and they’re going to use you to make a story.”

One development that Brady thinks has benefited his profile is an increased usage of social media.

“I do think in the advent of social media, the one thing that’s been really cool for me is I get to have my own voice and my own words,” Brady noted. “I think that’s a very empowering thing for an athlete. It’s very different than when Joe played or certainly earlier in my career and it does take it up some discretionary amount of time, but you don’t feel like when you say something it’s going to be taken out of context when you’re [saying] it yourself.”

Hayden Bird can be reached at hayden.bird@globe.com. Follow him on twitter at @haydenhbird.