SI – It’s Pro Bowl week, and coincidentally, I just heard the best story about the Pro Bowl ever told. It involves Brandon Spikes, a former Patriots linebacker from 2010-2013, and a conversation he had with Tom Brady in 2012, after Spikes found out he didn’t make the Pro Bowl roster.
I was interviewing Spikes about his career this week, and I asked him for his fondest memory from Foxborough. This was his answer:
“I had one of my best years my third season,” Spikes said. “I’d been playing off the charts. And I didn’t get picked to go to the Pro Bowl. I was moping around, actually in tears, and a few guys were trying to lift me up, like, ‘It’s gonna be alright man. We’ve got to worry about what’s in front of us.’ Then The Pharaoh himself walks up to me—I used to call Brady The Pharoah and he hated that—Brady walks up to me and says, ‘Hey B, you think I play this s— to go to Pro Bowls? Get it together. Get your head up. We’re trying to win rings. That’s what it is here.’ That’s where I knew what kind of environment I was in, how blessed I was.”
Annnd … I’m done. Useless for the rest of the day if not the weekend. I’m about 3 hours and 59 minutes from an erection I’ll have to call my doctor about.
Can you imagine being Brandon Spikes in this situation? The feeling he must’ve had getting caught giving a damn about the Pro Bowl – the Pro Bowl! – by a guy who never plays in it because he’s in the Super Bowl more often than not over his whole career? Literally crying about an individual honor in front of the most selfless, team-oriented, championship-driven, hyper-competitor the sport has even known? A guy with a countdown clock to the next Super Bowl that he resets on the first Monday of every February. Who climbs out of a warm bed containing the World’s Most Beautiful Woman so he can beat everyone else to the workout facility?
It can’t be easy to make Spikes feel small. If you’ve seen his Chatroulette video (NSFW) from U. of Florida, you know what I mean. But “Get your head up. We’re trying to win rings,” had to make his junk retract up into his body cavity like the landing gear on a jet.
If you’ve got any kind of a soul, you just can’t stand letting certain people down. To me, hearing that out of Brady would like the times my sainted mother would say “I’m very disappointed in you,” and it hurt exponentially more than my dad’s belt across the back of my pants. I mean, how can you ever mention an individual goal again after the GOAT admonishes you like that? You simply cannot.
I only wish Spikes was that inspired the night he crashed his Maybach into the back of that family’s car that cost him his career. He might have more of those rings Brady is still chasing.
P.S. This is the first time I’ve heard Brady referred to as The Pharoah besides on his Pro Football Reference page. I always wondered where it came from and never much cared for it. And now that it turns out Brady hated it, I know I hate it too. I mean, if you’re going with an Egyptian theme, I’d choose Imhotep, the priest of the sun god Ra who keeps coming back from the dead. But don’t overthink it when GOAT says it better than any other nickname ever could.