Sports | July 26, 2021 1:04 pm

Did Tom Brady Fake His Latest Viral Passing Video?

The 43-year-old quarterback's Instagram feat feels too good to be true

tom brady viral video
All credit to marketing agency Shadow Lion on a creative Under Armour ad in disguise.
Photo by Chris Unger/Zuffa LLC

As of this morning, Tom Brady’s latest post has well over one million likes on Instagram. In the video, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback — who turns 44 years old next week — dances around UCLA’s practice football field, throwing footballs with astonishing accuracy directly into a JUGS passing machine.

Three times in a row (and on the third throw, Brady drops back an extra 10 yards or so), he manages to feed the ball into the rotor and catch the pass as it flies right back to him. It’s absolutely unheard of accuracy, and it had a range of NFL peers, ESPN commentators and actor friends commenting things like “That’s next level,” “GOAT,” and “C’mon bruh!” on the post.

I had a similar reaction when I saw the post. The man officially owns seven rings as of late last week, the week before we found out he’d been playing all year long on a bum knee, and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to deny that his witch doctor wellness routine works. A simple viral passing video is par for the course at this point with TB12. All that said … this particular feat is likely a little too good to be true.

Some light social media sleuthing confirms that this video was produced by Ari Fararooy and Shadow Lion, a personalized ad agency “founded in 2017 with the goal of supporting Tom Brady’s off-field media efforts.” Over the last few years, Shadow Lion has dropped dozens of videos and photos in support of Brady’s various brand endorsements. Other star athletes — like MLB’s Christian Yelich and the NHL’s Zdeno Chara — have also joined forces with the firm at various points.

What’s so different about this latest video from Shadow Lion — it was clearly pitched as an “organic” post. There is no #ad at the end of Brady’s caption. No Tom Brady X Brand disclaimer. It looks and feels like a typical viral sports clip: a league favorite messes around at the end of practice and pulls off something remarkable.

But a typical JUGS passing machine needs attendants to feed the footballs in from the back. And throwing a ball right at the thing — no matter how accurate you are — is likely going to end in it clanking off the rotor. That space is way too small to vacuum up a ball. (Consider how difficult it is for the world’s best passing point guards to fit basketballs into huge hoops each year at the All-Star Skills Challenge.)

In all likelihood, Brady didn’t actually pull this off. Not because he isn’t capable, and not because he isn’t a great quarterback, but simply because it’s a physically impossible feat. Should we be mad? I don’t think so. The man has nothing to prove, while a young media agency — along with the visual effects brains at LA-based Warm & Fuzzy — just pulled off one of the most creative spots in years.

Look closely: this is an Under Armour ad. He’s wearing the brand head to toe. Millions of viewers will subconsciously associate tanned, chiseled greatness with a pair of UA cleats — just in time for them to order themselves (or their sons), a new pair of shoes heading into football training camps next month. It’s clever, it’s fun, and it’s a nice change of pace from the usual influencer fare: “I REFUSE to start my day without [insert energy drink they have never actually consumed].”

If you feel duped and irrevocably angry, you can get back at Brady by screaming at your TV during the Super Bowl. We all know he’ll inevitably be back for the next one.