A Handwriting Analyst Evaluates Tom Brady’s Thank You Note
Last week, Tom Brady published a handwritten note of appreciation to Patriots fans. It was brief and classy, with a closing line that inspired optimism for next season.
Naturally, we reached out to handwriting expert Andrea McNichol to get her thoughts. McNichol, who’s been analyzing handwriting for more than 40 years, has had an illustrious career, and she pretty much wrote the book on handwriting analysis. Throughout the years, she’s been a guest on the Johnny Carson Show, consulted on Howard Hughes’s will and the case of the Hitler Diaries, and testified on behalf of the FBI. She even analyzed a suicide note from O.J. Simpson and raised issues with the fact that he put a smiley face in the “O.”
It’s important to note that McNichol practices both forensic document analyses—think: a court case involving forged documents—and graphology, a field that suggests insights into personality traits and behaviors that can be gleaned through handwriting. Graphology is by no means foolproof and has been criticized. The following was merely an exercise in fun, and McNichol is a fan of football and a “big fan” of Tom Brady, so we wanted to hear what she thought of his handwriting.
Before speaking, she verified that this was 100 percent indeed the handwriting of Brady. Then she walked us through the letter, hitting on the following main points:
1. Neatness counts.
“The first thing I saw is what I see when all public figures write for the masses: neatness. They all try to write their very best, and Tom Brady is no different. It’s very neat, it’s well spaced.”
2. Brady likely worked from a draft.
“I believe he had this written out beforehand. In other words, it’s not written spontaneously as he’s going, because it’s going too slow for his intellect.”
3. This wasn’t about scoring some good PR.
“The thoughts appear to be genuine. I don’t see all the signs of ‘Hey, I’m just writing a bunch of nonsense and I don’t really believe a word of it.’”
4. Brady’s adherence to the rules of writing shows that he’s “toeing the line of society.”
“He’s still indenting, and he’s still paying attention to the rules of writing—capital letters, periods, commas—which a lot of people aren’t doing anymore. When he wants to put on a good face, when he wants people to think highly of him, he wants them to see him obeying the laws of society, toeing the line of society. Not only did he indent his paragraphs, but it’s a straight left margin, and the spacing is even.”
5. Print is about control.
“Printing allows you to go slower…It allows you more control because you keep lifting your hand, whereas with cursive writing you don’t have that ability. So it’s printed. But you know what? It’s meant for public consumption, therefore I’d expect him to print.”
6. The wide spacing suggests a level of caution on Brady’s end.
“When you put a lot of space between your lines and your words, it means you’re being extremely cautious. You’re guarded about what you say and what you do…In Tom Brady’s case, he might have a right to be. He’s been accused of a lot of things. It would make sense that Brady is wary of doing or saying the wrong things. He’s very cautious here and that’s what creates those extra large spaces between the words and lines.”
7. Writing that last paragraph, the one about how far the team made it, wasn’t easy.
“[The third paragraph] ends downhill on the right margin—the last words kind of dive down.
If we look at the writing as a whole—don’t read the words—you’ll see the first paragraph is uphill. He feels good about writing this thank you note to his fans. The ends are really rising. Look at the word ‘for’—it’s jumping up in the air. He’s feeling happy or good. He’s glad he’s writing this note.
The second paragraph is going uphill but not quite as much. He’s still enthusiastic.
Now something goes awry when he gets to the third paragraph. Look at the word ‘hard.’ It has an abnormally big ‘a.’ He’s really feeling some extra emotions about how hard it is. The hand doesn’t do that by itself. Something in the subconscious, unconscious, whatever you want to call it, there’s a little glitch there.
And in the second line of the third paragraph, there’s an extra wide space between ‘commitment’ and ‘to get as far.’…When you stop to think, your hand keeps moving to the right. So whenever there’s an extra large space between any two words, it’s because either the person stopped to think how to spell the word or what to write next.
Look at how the word ‘our’ at the end of line two drops down. Now he really starts getting depressed. You can see what he’s talking about in the third and final paragraph is a downer to him. It’s just very obvious.”