Tom Brady: He’s just not cool anymore

UGGs: noun, plural — A brand of sheepskin boot manufactured by an Australian company, the preferred footwear of Ashley, Ashlee and Ashleigh at the Tri-Delt house.

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Ugh: interjection — A singular sound of disgust made upon learning of Tom Brady’s role as UGGs male spokesman.

Brady’s success can be measured in yards. It’s what he’s using to cover his feet that is cause for concern.

UGGs? Really, Tom?

Sure, young ladies find them comfortable, fashionable even, but when he signed on as the fur-booting spokesman it was one more step in Brady’s transformation into the NFL’s first living Ken doll.

This is not an indictment of Brady’s season. He has the highest passer rating in the league, his New England Patriots are 9-2 and he has thrown 23 touchdowns, with just four interceptions. He might very well wind up being the league’s MVP.

Tom Brady remains a lot of things, but cool is no longer one of them. He’s a Metrosexual with a pop-star haircut and stubble that looks more manicured than rough. In a word, he’s pretty.

He entered this league as an Everyman, Horatio Alger in a helmet. Here was a quarterback who split time his senior year at Michigan, was drafted in the sixth round and became the Patriots’ starter only because of injury. And then this guy who slipped in the league’s backdoor went and demonstrated that he had the quarterbacking moxie that is difficult to describe and impossible to fake.

He was calm, he was poised and he married a supermodel. In a league that oozes testosterone, he was cool.

It’s what makes a quarterback iconic. Steve Young was a two-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl winner, but it was Joe Montana who was truly iconic — a third-round pick who once pointed out John Candy in the Super Bowl crowd before leading the 49ers to a game-winning drive against Cincinnati.

Brett Favre carried that kind of cultural clout once upon a time. He was the swashbuckler who spoke with a drawl, his beard stubble so rough it could sand the corners off a board.

Players become icons because they don’t try too hard. They are not manufactured. They are not produced. Their charisma is enough.

That’s what Brady was at first. A quarterback overlooked and underestimated, only to show he had the ability to bring the best out of people at the right moment. Where Peyton Manning seemed robotic, almost programmed with a tendency to seize up in those critical moments, Brady had that winner’s knack. He was the only smiling presence in the largely joyless face of New England’s run of three Super Bowl titles.

It’s different now, and it’s hard to understand exactly why. It’s not just because Brady’s no longer an underdog. He hasn’t been an underdog for a very long time.

But he has become the league’s reigning dandy with his flowing locks and his pretty life, which means there’s a void now atop the cultural hierarchy of the league’s quarterbacks.

Manning is incredibly successful, but he’s never going to be called suave, and Matt Ryan is a promising quarterback, but he’s going to have to win a playoff game before we start mentioning him among the league’s truly elite. Ben Roethlisberger has two Super Bowl rings, but he was suspended four games this season for what the NFL commissioner deemed to be conduct unbecoming.

For now there’s a vacancy, a spot that Brady once occupied before he started doing things like signing on to be the male spokesman for sheepskin boots.