The Hippo


Jul 23, 2019








The TB12 Method, by Tom Brady
Simon and Schuster, 306 pages


 Tom Brady’s new book is a 3-pound infomercial unworthy of his brand, the embodiment of what happens when people who know better can’t bring themselves to tell an emperor that he’s not wearing any clothes.

It’s as if Tiger Beat magazine devoted an issue to the celebrated Patriots quarterback, and, as a special gift for subscribers, weighted it so the magazine could be used for bicep curls. Here we see Brady, in unnerving high-definition glossy photographs, gazing affectionately at a football, his forearms and his body coach. For those of us who just admire the guy but don’t necessarily want to kiss his pictures and tape them over our beds, the book is vaguely unnerving, just like the mutual-admiration-society of Brady and his controversial guru Alex Guerrero.
But those sins are venial. The mortal one is that there is useful information in The TB12 Method, if you strip away the filler, repetition and clichés. Let me condense it for you:
Your muscles are too tight. You need to deeply massage them daily, and it’s better if you have a partner to do this while you contract them. Stroking every muscle of your body with barely tolerable force — always toward your heart — will improve your blood flow and make you pliable, which is the key to staying flexible and mobile as you age, all the more so if you are an NFL quarterback in your 40s.
Probably half of what constitutes your workout now is unnecessary. Linemen don’t need the same routines as wide receivers. Also, to quote a memorable title of an unrelated book that didn’t get a fraction of the attention this one will: “You’re not sick, you’re thirsty.” You need to be drinking more water, half of your body weight in ounces.
That’s the all-important core of this book, and had these themes been competently developed, in a format that doesn’t make you worry about carpal tunnel syndrome when you’re struggling to hold it (all the while, hiding the fangirl cover from anyone looking at you on the train), it would have worked.
The incessant product placement, however, is simply embarrassing. The constant shilling of TB12 products, from brain exercises to nutritional supplements to sleepwear, makes Brady look more shyster than legend. Even when he’s not actively selling a TB12 product, he seems like he’s selling, as when he expounds on the importance of a good mattress. (It’s not been so long since he was on TV hawking a $2,000 Beautyrest mattress said to have diamond particles inside.)
Consider, in a chapter on nutrition, Brady’s chart detailing an average day of eating and working out. At 11 a.m., he tells us, “If I feel the urge, before lunch I’ll have some TB12 Snacks, which are raw, vegan, organic, gluten-free, and dairy-free.”
Like, say, an apple? Well, no. 
TB12 Snacks, as sold on the TB12 website, come in small pouches, with names like Superfood Energy Squares and Amazon Crunch. You get 12 little pouches for $50.
The TB12 method as a protocol for athletes seems both revolutionary and simple, and almost everyone can benefit from some of the advice Brady puts forth through the pen of his “writing collaborator” Peter Smith.
But The TB12 Method as a book deflates Brady. Nobody expects someone at his level to write his own book, but we do expect someone, somewhere, to say, at some point: Wait a minute. Does this book make the GOAT not seem very bright? Do these photos not seem a tad bit cheesy? Do we really want this truly remarkable human being to be codified in print saying things such as, “Vegetables are high in nutrients, fiber, and enzymes. I try to eat as many as I can at every meal” and “Sleep has several stages, but the ones that we pass through every night are light sleep and deep sleep”?
Your fourth-grader’s science book is probably more complex.
Others can explore the credibility of Brady’s claim that staying hydrated keeps him from getting sunburned, or the science behind Brady’s “bioceramic-infused” pajamas, which he says gives him an edge on his opponents even while he’s sleeping. They could be the greatest thing ever; then again, placebos happen.
Brady, who seems like a genuinely nice guy, dreams of establishing TB12 Sports Therapy Centers around the world and earnestly urges us to follow his advice so that we can live “without tension or rigidity but with readiness, openness and receptivity.”  One Boston sports medicine doctor who likes Brady has criticized the book for advancing methods that have not been scientifically tested. The GOAT is basically an “experiment of one,” as the late running guru Dr. George Sheehan liked to say, even though the book concludes with testimonials from 16 people who say they’ve been transformed at The TB12 facility in Foxborough, Mass.
But take a look at the average person shuffling down a public street — bent over, stiff, uncomfortable in their own bodies — or listen to your own creaky joints when you lurch out of bed, and Guerrero’s techniques, now manifest in Brady, make sense.  
Brady sees his post-Patriots life (let it not be anytime soon) as something of a public health crusade — good will toward men, pliability for all. Would that it not come in a trademarked TB12 box. At what point will he be able to say, “I’ve made enough money”? D
— Jennifer Graham 

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