After the Super Bowl LIII there was much speculation about whether Tom Brady of the New England Patriots was a goat. Some even phrased it as ‘The Goat” – as in the Platonic Ideal of Goatness where Tom Brady was more goat-like than a goat.
Why a goat? He’s not that spry in pocket. Certainly, the NFL has better leapers. But Brady possesses that grizzled unshaven look that does resemble a goat left out to pasture too long. The fact that everyone in sports media was discussing whether he was a goat says less about the accuracy of the comparison and more about the echo chamber of the modern media.
From one point of view we can say definitely that Tom Brady is not a goat any more than a building is a tunnel. Yet as we examine the issue more deeply, we see a more complex story. From a behavioral perspective goats love ramming their heads into other goats or objects, much like NFL players do.
Beyond behavior, there are genetic connections not easily dismissed. According to the Bovine Genome Sequencing Consortium “The cattle genome contains a minimum of 22,000 genes, with a core set of 14,345 orthologs shared among seven mammalian species” one of which is humans (Elsik, C; Tellam, R; Worley, K; 2009). Of course, cattle aren’t goats but again evidence such as this indicates the broad pattern of genetic conservation across mammalian species.
Thus, both behaviorally and genetically speaking we can indeed say Tom Brady is part goat. But then again, we could just as easily say goats are part Tom Brady.