” What are you willing to do and what are you willing to give up to be the best you can be ?” are Tom Brady’s first words in the Facebook Watch documentary, Tom vs. Time . The premise of the series is neatly summarized in the title, and put on repeat throughout the premiere of the show: Brady is 40 years old, at an age when he should be retired, yet somehow brought his squad back from what seemed like imminent loss in 2017′ s stunning Super Bowl win against the Atlanta Falcons. On Sunday, Brady’s New England Patriots will take over the Philadelphia Eagles .
Brady, the documentary suggests, is superhuman and on a race against time. And Brady’s on a mission to show his secrets, first with last September’s release of The TB12 Method: How to Achieve a Lifetime of Sustained Peak Performance and now with the companion series of episodes profiling Brady’s life, directed by Gotham Chopra.
It might not be surprising, then, that the first episode of Tom vs. Time , ” The Physical Game ,” features a scene in which Brady goes to his business partner and longtime trainer Alex Guerrero for a pounding, apparently painful massage he terms” pliability educate ,” after he noticed that” bumps and bruises” he’d gotten from football” was absolutely starting to take a toll .” The segment presents Guerrero examining Brady’s heel, scratching it and commenting, “This is better,” a vague note that suggests that something about pliability train has somehow improved Brady’s heel.
Even Brady notes skepticism when he recalled initially meeting Guerrero.” I was like,’ Yeah, what can he do? What can he do that’s been different than what everyone else has done for me, which is just ice your shoulders and take some remainder ?'” Brady gazes into the camera and swallows.” Boy did I learn a lot .”
The next shot exemplifies pliability educate, what appears to be a really intense Thai massage, as Guerrero ( credited as Brady’s” body coach-and-four “) swiftly and stringently scratches Brady’s legs. He pounds Brady’s back so hard that the quarterback’s body ricochets up and down, Brady’s face crunched in discomfort. He pokes and prods, moves and pinches Brady all over his body.” Prior to the season starting, we really try to get his brain to understand that there’s going to be impact, then prepare his body for the impact, to almost feel as if it’s normal behavior for him .”
What Tom vs. Time fails to mention: Guerrero has been investigated by the Federal Trade Commission for” building unsubstantiated health asserts ,” like promoting a supplement purported to protect athletes from concussions.( The FTC decided not to pursue a full-fledged investigation in exchange for Guerrero refunding customers money and closing store .)
Speaking of concussions, it’s troubling that the series attains no mention of them. Brady doesn’t address the effects of head impact that a football player experiences, which–as has been widely reported–can lead to concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE. Pliability training is, by definition, aimed at massaging an athlete’s muscles, which is well and good, but the great majority of scientific and medical criticism about football has been around head impact and brain injuries, which are more complex and devastating than muscle tears. But Brady is silent on the fact that his colleagues have suffered some of the most violent traumatic brain traumata a human body can endure, resulting in mental and physical trauma that may have led to death and suicide.
As for pliability develop itself, it’s a fuzzy idea. Brady explains it as such:” I ensure pliability as lengthening and softening muscles to get them back into balance. Over the years, so many muscle contractions or through all the workouts that we do, we abbreviate our muscles. So if you can get them to lengthen, then when you contract, they can fully contract and relax .” Soft muscles, Brady argues, permit a player to get slammed by another body repeatedly; denser, tougher muscles tear and don’t bounce back.
On paper, this explanation of how muscles run stimulates very little sense and is oversimplified. Slow-twitch muscles carry oxygen and are able to sustain energy and function before feeling tired; fast-twitch muscles are key for sprinting and short bursts of strength and speed. The development and usage of these muscles can be sports-specific, so that in football, which is a game that requires both running for a distance and short explosions of speed, these muscles can be individualized for each role. Football is a physiologically intensive sport; for a quarterback like Brady, though, action is often limited to throwing and calling plays, with occasional operating of the ball. That means that in both limbs and legs, Brady is mostly employ short-twitch muscles. Now, according to the Gatorade Sports Science Institute’s analysis of the physiological demands of football, most muscle damage is enzymatic and” highly conditioned athletes[ are] able to withstand the stress of 10 days of two-a-day practice sessions .” In fact, the report says, elite players often have muscles “desensitized” to repeated blows.
The ” lengthening” and “softening” of muscles to allow them to contract and relax? A massage certainly has beneficial effects for how a body recovers after a stressful event. A stretching feels amazing, and get a professional to knead sore, tired muscles can be crucial for recovery after any exceedingly physical event. But Brady’s insisting that muscles experience ultimate performance when they are ” lengthened” and “softened” so that they can fully contract has next to no scientific backup–there are literally zero studies on muscle pliability. As international experts in muscle physiology told The New York Times :” It’s balderdash .”
And that’s the crux of the problem with Tom Brady’s TB12 technique to promote health and wellness: It seems to suggest there is something happening that is good for you, something science doesn’t even know or understand .
This line of believing is always dangerous( consider: anti-vaxxers, homeopaths ), and it’s also dangerous for Brady to peddle his alternative therapies–without any scientific research to back them up–as something that should be believed as fact.
It doesn’t help that the Tom vs. Time has the sheen of earnestness. Filmed in the type of inspirational montage-style that will become ubiquitous in February with the Olympics, the documentary homes in on Brady. We see shootings of him peeling a banana( sans chef) before popping it in a blender and swirling the contents into a purple smoothie. We watch him at the gym, sweating through resistance workouts. We consider him at home, taking his rings out of a locker and laughter,” I need to shine these .”
Brady’s everyman routine is grating, but is instrumental in decided the stage for his second coming, a career that could propel him into the ” period ” part of his series: as a health and wellness guru. After all, what’s better than a social media-only documentary in promoting Brady as a health expert? Chopra has apparently procured countless clips of commentators and coach-and-fours and even Brady himself robotically recurring ad nauseum the fact that Brady is 40 and far older than most athletes. It’s impossible to ignore Brady’s attempt to be the male Goop, a sort of Gwyneth Paltrow for men.
And while that might seem like an odd place to be for an all-American icon like Brady, it’s a savvy move. Brady is heralded by a significant portion of this country as an American hero, and in a land where football is second to church in godliness on autumn Sundays, Brady’s is a presence that marks him as a prime individual for being able to kickstart a health and wellness revolution among men.
That’s huge, given the sorry statistics that surround men’s health in this country: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12.8 percentage of men in America are in poor health; nearly half of American men don’t meet federal guidance on physical activity; 17.8 percentage of men smoking cigarettes; 34.5 percent were obese; mortality was overwhelmingly higher than those of their female counterparts, particularly due to cancer, heart disease, and accidents–the first two of which are preventable with diet and exercise. For whatever reason, humen don’t take care of their health as much as they should.
But Brady, the quintessential American man, does, and how . Indeed, the series highlightings very few of Brady’s health practises that have been widely encompassed, analyzed, and often scorned: His refusal to eat nightshade vegetables to avoid inflammation, his misguided logic that drinking water will prevent sunburn.
But could it be that Brady is actually doing good? He’s promoting health and wellness for a segment of the population that probably won’t run see a doctor or eat some greens without person they look up to promoting that lifestyle. Brady is, after all, simply a normal, average American: a 9-to-5 man with a family, a task he works hard at, making the gym and hanging with his buddies( never mind that he’s got a personal cook, an exercise routine that involves specialists, and money–lots of it ).
In fact, that’s a huge part of the problem in Brady’s proselytizing about health and wellness: It requires a certain income and class . The nutrition manual alone that comes with Brady’s recent book rings in at a hefty $200. Brady’s diet is primarily vegan and local, which is arguably expensive for an average American man. He dumps electrolytes into everything he drinks along with specially selected, top-of-the-line supplements. His veggies are most often raw and organic. The veggies he has are limited to those that are “alkalizing.” It’s not feasible for a middle- or lower-income American to go against time in the way Tom Brady does.
To be fair, Brady’s diet falls into the nutritionally lauded Michael Pollan philosophy:” Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants .” But it doesn’t erase the fact that it takes fund to follow the TB12 Method, it takes fund to be able to eat well in America, and it takes fund to be able to have vitamins and minerals splunked into every single drink you drink–money that many Americans only can’t afford to spend on designer dinners .
What’s even sadder, and more frightening, about the series is the fact that Sunday’s Super Bowl offers Brady essentially free advertising for his “method.” Regardless of if the Patriots win or lose, Brady will have won more exposure. Never mind that his physique and health have been honed after years of training, genetics, and professional investment–he’s brought his scientific flim-flam to the biggest stage American television affords. And by doing so, by showcasing himself as proof of a wellness initiative founded on body coaches and questionable advice like not eating tomatoes and strawberries or shrugging off sunscreen off as unnecessary, Brady is able to establish legitimacy.
Brady’s TB12 method is reflective of a wider debate in American culture about the perception of medication and science and the rising mistrust of those fields in favor of alternative theories that often don’t have any basis in fact. Anti-vaxxers who want to protect their children from autism, women sticking jade eggs up their steamed vaginas in hopes to improve their sexual health and the burgeoning( vastly unregulated) wellness industry–people are so afraid and distrustful of science that they are willing to seek out snake oil in a desperate effort to feel better about themselves and their health. While Brady’s TB1 2 method certainly has some harmless facets to it–the core of what he preaches is to eat well and to work out regularly–that he pits himself against hour and offers some sort of miracle solution to aging if you merely sign up attains for a worrisome precedent.
” I could be–I should be perfect ,” Brady says in a closing scene of the first episode, pulling into practice with an audio array of commentators wondering( for the umpteenth hour) if Brady can continue to perform in his forties. What Brady has achieved as a 40 -year-old athlete is astounding. It’s remarkable that he’s able to run, fling, tackle, and be tackled at the highest, arguably most brutal intensities, emerging time and again victorious. He’s in peak health and capable of doing far more physically than the vast majority of his peers.
But while Brady might want to attribute this to his TB12 system, what he &# x27; s promoting has never been evaluated by factual, evidence-based science. And while it &# x27; s important to question the status quo, to exam what we believe is true, the pseudoscience Brady is peddling has the power to affect people who aren’t in a position to rigorously verify his claims.
” You’ve got to play harder, tougher, play for everything !” Brady screams at his team in the lows of the Super Bowl last year. Modern-day Brady voices over:” Being mentally tough is putting all that bullshit aside … all the noise, all the hype, and merely focusing on what you’ve got to do .”
The problem is, much of what Brady is promoting seems to be noise and hype itself.
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