Remember the movie “Heaven Can Wait,” where Warren Beatty’s spirit inhabits a rich man’s body, quarterbacks a football team and wins the big game?
Today, we remake it. And you are the star. The body you inhabit is Tom Brady’s.
The game is the Super Bowl.
Here we go: First you wake up, gaze in the mirror and can’t believe you are that handsome. “Wow,” you want to say. Just …”wow.”
You ask yourself, “Should I shave or not shave?” You look so cool either way, it is hard to choose.
You shower. You towel dry your hair. That hair has been the source of magazine stories, paparazzi photos. Long? Short? Parted in the middle? But it is just hair to you. You dry it, get dressed, head out for the game.
And not just any game. The Super Bowl. The thought of this would bring most men to their knees. But you are in the body of a man who has won it three times. You envision success. You promised your owner, Robert Kraft, you would give him a great performance, better than the AFC championship game that got your team to Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis.
“Gonna win this thing,” you tell yourself.
The elevator door opens. People scream.
The fans, the supermodel and the boys
Soon security guards are all around you. You move through crowds that eye your every step. People call your name. You smile and wave. Almost everyone cheers you – except some New Yorkers in Giants jerseys. That’s OK.
You are inside Tom Brady’s body.
All is cool.
You get a call from your wife, Gisele Bundchen, the supermodel, whose picture may come up on your phone. She is stunning. She talks about the baby. She talks about family and plans. You have your private ritual about good-luck wishes.
You get on the bus. You see your teammates. You see them checking your mood, reading your eyes – are you ready? Are you going to do it? Everyone knows if you don’t have a great game, there is no way your team wins. You feel what it feels like to have so many big men depending on you.
You take your seat. You are up to the moment. You have heard what the opposition has said. “Tom Brady is a great quarterback, but … it is not like he is God,” one Giants defensive lineman told the media this past week.
True, you are not God. But you are inhabiting Tom Brady, the biggest matinee idol in American sports. Every generation has one – a guy the guys want to be and the girls want to date. Joe Namath held this crown in the late ’60s. Mark Spitz defined it after his Olympics. David Beckham certainly owned it internationally.
You – Tom Brady – rule the roost this morning. You can grace the cover of GQ and Sports Illustrated with equal justification. You’re as welcome at the Oscars as the ESPYs.
You get this way by being handsome, successful, having a highly chronicled love life – but mostly by delivering the goods. You deliver the goods. This is your fifth Super Bowl start with New England, tying the NFL record for a quarterback.
But this one matters most.
A chance for revenge tonight
You get off the bus. You narrow your gaze. You remember the last Super Bowl against this same Giants team. You completed eight passes on a long fourth-quarter drive, including a touchdown, to give the undefeated Patriots a 14-10 lead with less than 3 minutes to go. Fans thought it was over.
But you watched helplessly as the Giants went down the field and famously scored to pull ahead, 17-14. Few people remember that you got the ball back – 29 seconds left – but went nowhere. An incompletion. A sack. Two more incompletions. Not a yard gained.
That was four years ago. It still stings.
You are inside Tom Brady. You are 34 years old. You walk down the corridor. Cameras follow your every step. You enter the locker room. Your mind is laser-focused. You dress. You run through the tunnel. The noise is unlike anything most people have heard – but you’ve heard it before. This is not about noise.
The national anthem is sung, and you look around at the high-wire world you live in and only one thing matters. You trot on the field. The huddle surrounds you.
“Here we go,” you hear yourself say.
This is some movie, you think. This is some part. You are inside Tom Brady, and you feel cooler than you have ever felt before.
Contact Mitch Albom: 313-223-4581 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Catch “The Mitch Albom Show” 5-7 p.m. weekdays on WJR-AM (760).