It's tough to be a Brady fan in Manning territory

Matthew Lane • Feb 3, 2019 at 12:30 PM

KINGSPORT — Legendary quarterback Tom Brady holds dozens of NFL records (some of which may never be broken) and will be poised to break even more today when he leads the New England Patriots against the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

This gridiron showdown will no doubt be a contest for the ages and one that will go down in the annals of NFL history.

And at the end of the day, regardless of who wins or loses, one thing is for certain. Brady is not going to retire.

Sorry, Brady haters. It’s not going to happen.

“(Brady) said this week there’s a zero percent chance of retiring,” said Anthony Wilmoth, owner of Hero’s Headquarters in Kingsport and an unapologetic Brady fan. In fact, Brady himself has said many times over he plans to play until he’s 45.

That could mean another four years of New England dominance in the playoffs. Potentially, another four appearances in the Super Bowl. Though many football fans may cringe (and probably cuss) at the mere thought of such a possibility, seeing Brady in another Super Bowl or four would be fine for Wilmoth.

“I’m more of a Brady fan than a Patriots fan,” Wilmoth explains. “I used to be a Montana fan growing up as a kid in the ’80s and I always followed the quarterbacks. I think that Brady, with his wins, his record, and his clutch-ness, he’s surpassed Montana now.”

And that’s hard to argue with, especially with the stats Brady has racked up during his 19 seasons in the NFL. He has the most wins by a quarterback, the most Super Bowl wins (five shiny rings) and most appearances in a Super Bowl (nine out of the last 18).

“He’s definitely the GOAT (greatest of all time). Hands down,” Wilmoth said. “He’s lost more Super Bowls than most quarterbacks will ever go to and he’s won more than anybody else either.”

But isn’t Brady just a better cheater than everybody else, I asked Wilmoth. I mean, they were deflating the balls, right?

“Deflategate was total BS,” Wilmoth said. “If you go back and look at that game, after the balls were inspected and inflated at halftime, Brady came out and had a better second half. He tore them apart.”

If you’re a sports fan and have been on social media since playoff weekend, chances are you’ve seen (and maybe even expressed) a little Brady hate. OK, you’ve probably seen quite a bit of Brady hate.

One particularly funny meme making the rounds online is “We’re all Rams fans now.” Another showed a map of the United States with every state (except the New England ones and Louisiana) colored yellowed with a Rams logo.

The hate is real, Wilmoth admits. For this article I even offered to interview Wilmoth from an undisclosed location.

“I get grief every minute of every day,” he said. “Especially in this area with everybody being pro (Peyton) Manning. Yes, it’s very hard (to be a Patriots fan).”

So, where does Wilmoth plan to watch the Super Bowl today? At a bar? A sports club? Friend’s house?

“At home,” he said. “I can’t go anywhere else.”

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