The world had to wait longer than expected to watch the final episode of Tom Brady’s “Tom vs. Time” series, as production was delayed due to the New England Patriots’ loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Super Bowl LII.
The finale, that dropped on Facebook Watch Monday, featured the 40-year-old quarterback addressing the 41-33 defeat on Feb. 4 in Minneapolis.
“When you think about the game, you think about the loss,” he told director Gotham Chopra. “When you think about the season, you think about the successes. When you think about the year, you think about everything.”
Chopra had previously postponed the documentary’s swan song so he could film “one final exit interview with our guy before we could figure out what Chapter 6 was truly going to be about,” he said last month.
The wait was worth it, however, as the episode shows the MVP quarterback diving deep into everything from what went through his head in the final seconds of Super Bowl LII (“I thought we were going to win the game”) to that controversial hand injury (“I’m thinking I really don’t know what happened to my thumb, but I know it doesn’t feel good,” Brady said).
TheWrap sat down with Chopra ahead of Super Bowl LII to chat about the incredible inside access he got to football’s first couple.
TheWrap: Were you surprised about the level of excitement around the series when it debuted last year?
Gotham Chopra: The obsession around Tom and Gisele [Bündchen] in Boston is out of control. I knew what we had, so the buzz wasn’t surprising, but I think the broader reception and response has been interesting. It has been a really great response, and even people outside of the football world who are not fans have said that they all aspire to be the best version of themselves and like to see how this guy has been able to put that together across such a length of time.
I hear all the time things like, “I’m a Steelers fan and I’ve hated the Patriots forever and I hate Tom Brady, but damn do I respect him now after seeing how committed he is.”
Why do you think “Tom vs. Time” makes him seem so much more relatable?
You’re still a human being, you’re still a husband, you’re still a son. What his mum went through last year [battling cancer] and what they’ve endured as family — that’s relatable. Nobody cares if you’re Tom Brady; when your mom is sick, then your mom is sick.
He’s got a 5-year-old daughter. She doesn’t care when he comes home, if he won or lost against the Carolina Panthers — she’s just glad her dad is home, and she wants to go to Build-a-Bear, because that’s what he promised her. That stuff is human and makes his accomplishments over 18 seasons that much more admirable.
One of the aspects that have made the series a success is your close access to Brady. How did you manage that?
I am not dealing with managers and agents. I am texting with Tom and figuring it out … there’s not this machine around him. There’s no handlers. He is very humble in that way. Here’s this simple guy at the epicenter of the success. It’s been a dream project, a special relationship, and one I feel a lot of responsibility for because he is not just some subject who I got to know. I have to pinch myself occasionally, as I’m still also a fan, having grown up in Boston around the game and the Patriots in particular.
How much were you at the whim of the Patriots’ 2017 season wins and losses in making the series?
As a storyteller, the thing you can’t control is the circumstances as the season goes on. There are ebbs and flows, controversies and come-from-behind wins. Even leading up to the AFC Championship game, I was joking with him that he was doing all the work for me with the thumb thing creating so much drama and conflict. You can’t really script that.
What would have happened if they’d had a losing season?
It would have, obviously, been different … but prior to the season, Tom had already established himself as the greatest ever, or at least in a very elite category. So I think we would still have told that story. I worked with Kobe Bryant and, in the season that we profiled, he was coming back from an injury and then got injured again. It was not the glorious, amazing ending to his career on the court but there was still a poignancy to it. You figure it out as a storyteller, and these are called “unscripted” series for a reason.
Is there going to be a Season 2?
Only if something is dramatically different. I think what makes this season special is: 1) He’s not done anything like this before and he’s historically so private, and 2) The circumstances of this past year have been pretty unique. As far as I know, he’s not retiring, so that is not changing. Unless the circumstances are dramatically different or we just came up with a new idea, I wouldn’t want to do Season 2 just “because.”
What were your thoughts on the incident with the Boston sportscaster who criticized Brady’s daughter, Vivian, after she was on the show?
I was a little bit surprised and a little bit sensitive. I’ve gotten to know his family and kids … and I’m a parent, too. But then I also wasn’t surprised, everything Tom does in the fish bowl of Boston and its Boston radio. It is what it is. I wasn’t surprised at Tom’s response, either. He was instinctively protective on the one hand and then he when he heard the reaction, he was like, “Guys, let’s relax and not get this guy fired.” It was like “Monday” for him; by Tuesday it was something else.
Click here to watch the final episode of “Tom vs. Time.”