Look, this really isn’t just Mets fans looking for a new reason to bemoan how the fates seem to constantly line up against them in various, sundry and occasionally outlandish ways. It also isn’t just about piling on Tom Brady, he of the six rings and the supermodel wife and the textbook-perfect life.
Now, those two worlds happen to collide here, as we discover that Brady has sought to trademark “Tom Terrific,” has actually filled out the paperwork and submitted that through his company, TEB Capital. Brady has had a number of nicknames pinned on him through the years according to pro-football-reference.com, which serves as something of an unofficial arbiter of such things.
In addition to “Tom Terrific” there is “Touchdown Tom,” and there is “The Pharaoh,” and there’s “Comeback Kid” and there’s “Sir,” and every one of them sounds just a little more self-important than the other but that’s beside the point. Brady didn’t dub himself any of his names.
But it’s Tom Terrific that he wants trademarked, and that’s just wrong, because the name isn’t his to have. Because no nickname truly belongs to any one man, especially not in sports. And it’s been that way forever.
You may believe that Earl “the Pearl” Monroe was the only player worthy of such a perfect basketball nickname, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have equal value for those who saw Dwayne “Pearl” Washington perform his magic at Boys & Girls High or at Syracuse (and if we REALLY want to get into some pop culture cross-pollination, it shouldn’t minimize how much fans of Janis Joplin – “Pearl” forever – feel about her, either).
There was a lot of huffing and puffing when a spectacular running back named LaDainian Tomlinson became a superstar in San Diego and rather than earning a nickname on his own began to go by the initials of his name – LT. For many there was, and is, only one football player who should go by that moniker – Lawrence Taylor – and the debate became a little saltier when Tomlinson finished out his career with the Jets.
But it’s here that something should be noted:
Tomlinson and Washington never went to court to trademark – let’s call it what it really is, “to steal” – the nickname they famously shared with stars who came before them. As far as we know, neither would do – or even consider – something so weasel-ly.
Brady has done something this weasel-ly.
It isn’t that Tom Seaver deserves some kind of special waiver to keep “Tom Terrific” as his nickname forever. Seaver, after all, also went by multiple nicknames. Personally, I always preferred “The Franchise,” because that was a far better reflection of who he was in his prime and what he meant – and means – to the Mets still.
But Seaver was also “Tom Terrific” a decade before Brady was born. If Patriots fans want to call Brady that, nobody is stopping them (though a talent that rare should probably warrant the extra effort required to come up with a name all his own). But if the trademark industry is so warped that he is granted this request, does that mean he will be entitled to a percentage every time someone refers to Seaver by a nickname he’s been called since the LBJ administration?
Tom Bradys Tom Terrific trademark request appalls Mets fans
As if New Yorkers needed another reason to hate Tom…
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Pete Reiser would certainly have been interested in this legal precedent. He was, after all, “Pistol Pete” long before Pete Maravich commandeered it 30 years later, and before Pete Sampras would borrow it 25 years after THAT. Rocket Richard would have had some kind of fun serving Roger Clemens with papers. Michael Jordan and Michael Johnson could settle “MJ” over a game of H-O-R-S-E (or a 100-yard dash). Ted Williams never seemed much bothered by people calling Gary Carter “Kid,” probably because “the Splendid Splinter” and “Teddy Ballgame” were better, anyway.
Sugar Ray Robinson versus Sugar Ray Leonard? That could be an interesting way to settle things. Especially if the winner agrees to play a game of around-the world with Sugar Ray Richardson.
And seriously, Mr. Terrific? It never even occurred to Alex Rodriguez to call a lawyer when Andy Roddick suddenly co-opted “A-Rod,” and Alex used to enjoy calling lawyers for sport. These things tend to work out over time. On first glance, “A-Rod” is and likely forever will be Rodriguez. Pistol Pete is forever Maravich. LT is No. 56, not No. 21.
Tom Terrific? Why not just let history judge who that really is, as opposed to, you know, an actual judge? I can’t think of anyone else nicknamed “Pharaoh,” honestly, unless you want to take it up with the Triple Crown horse. Or “Sir” (unless Duke Ellington’s descendants want to have a say). Let’s call you either of these and then call it a day, what do you say?