Love him or hate him, Tom Brady has been a winner throughout his career. With Man in the Arena, he may also prove himself as a pioneer.
I absolutely love reading biographies, and I know that as autobiographies you need to take the information with a grain of salt.
Man in the Arena is Tom Brady’s video autobiography. With 9 of the ten episodes released, I can tell you that it’s possible that we’ll see more series like this in the future. Brady, and other sports superstars like him, may be more interested in the medium that broadcasts their sport than in the text on the page, and there is nothing wrong with that.
As a reader, I would argue that building each episode, or chapter if we’re still applying the traditional biography analogy, being a trip to the Super Bowl is a perfect literary device. It’s an easy way to separate things. Each episode and the series as a whole also dives back into how he became who he became. It’s not purely linear storytelling, which is something that you’ll find more often in biographies.
What I find intriguing about this going forward is that bringing only a select few talking heads along with each chapter, allows for different perspectives, not just on Brady himself, but on the story that is being told. Often, Brady has asked someone from the other team in that particular chapter’s Super Bowl to join him for the episode. You’re getting even more than you would from, say, a biographer who even in their due diligence would interview both sides but would take only the juiciest quotes.
We get alternative views on the same thing, and that goes for his teammates as well. While the last episode is still in post-production as I write this, it makes sense that the New England Patriots episodes are done, because he’s not there anymore. Episode ten, which will feature his Super Bowl win as the starting quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, may require a more delicate touch because as the series was released he was still actively playing games with the organization.
As I mentioned at the top, this is pioneering. I believe other athletes may follow Brady’s lead down this path of video autobiography. With streaming services all fighting for original content, it would make sense that the platforms are there.
Video is a powerful medium that has allowed these athletes to grow in a much larger way than their predecessors. The biography, as a book, is not dead, but we could be seeing the start of something new. So far, I’m alright with it. To each his own story, and to each story its own medium.
Of course, books will still be written about Brady, and other documentaries might even pop up along the way.
I could easily see Lebron James, Lewis Hamilton, Derek Jeter, and more doing one of these series next, and I wouldn’t be shocked if we started seeing more of these authorized autobiography docuseries and less published autobiographies from the sports stars of today and tomorrow.