98.5 The Sports Hub staff report
Speaking to Albert Breer of The MMQB, Gotham Chopra explained why his new Tom Brady documentary Man in the Arena is not going to be his version of Michael Jordan’s The Last Dance. He also revealed that an oft-overlooked Patriots Super Bowl win is more important than realized.
Man in the Arena will cover each of Brady’s Super Bowl appearances with the Patriots over nine episodes. The main theme will be to explain, as Breer describes it, “how Brady’s experiences have all flowed into who he is as a player now, a Buccaneer turning 43, and even how it could happen from one year to the next.” But Chopra highlighted one Super Bowl in particular as the one that truly began what’s commonly referred to (and debated over) as the “Patriot Way”: the Pats’ 24-21 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2004 season.
Here’s what Chopra said, per Breer:
“I’d now worked with Tom for, gosh, five years and did a lot of interviews, some of which were just sort of done to bank it, not for a specific project, just to have it. And there was something we recently did on that 2004 Super Bowl, where he talked about the culture of that team. All this stuff you hear about Patriot Way, and Do Your Job, stuff that Bill has created over the years, the philosophies, this is the year that really happened. … He’s like, ‘First year, kind of a miracle. The next Super Bowl, O.K., now we’re getting our feel. And that first Eagles Super Bowl, this is where the Patriot Way was born.’ And hearing him talk about that, and the culture of that team, a bunch of guys, all about the same age, same life experience at the time, the Vrabels, the Ted Johnson, Tedy Bruschi, Rodney Harrison. … I told him afterwards, ‘Tom, that’s the best thing you’ve ever done with us.’”
Chopra also pushed back against widespread comparisons between Man in the Arena and The Last Dance, ESPN’s 10-part documentary series on Michael Jordan and the 1997-98 Chicago Bulls.
The series’ combined presence on ESPN, and the magnitude of Brady & Jordan in the sports universe, led to immediate juxtapositions of the two. But Chopra says it won’t be Brady’s version of The Last Dance, because it will have a focus on the present day and Brady’s first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“The premise [of The Last Dance] was telling stories about the seasons, whereas [Brady’s], it does feel a little bit more real time. Tom continues to be an active player,” Chopra said, per Breer. “So the idea is, ‘OK, let’s talk about these nine seasons, this incredible body of work across 20 years, and how it’s still sort of affecting him.'”
Though the documentary will focus on Brady in the present, Chopra said it won’t follow the 2020 Bucs for the whole season and there’s no guarantee that they will be included at all. Chopra’s comments indicate that the series will still be Patriots-centric, but the interview process has yet to be completed. Former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe is among the figures who have already been interviewed, according to Breer.