Historical Accuracy (Q&A):
How closely is 80 for Brady based on a true story?
Directed by Kyle Marvin, the movie was inspired by a real-life group of five elderly New England women who were Tom Brady superfans and labeled themselves the "Over 80 for Brady" club. The movie turns the five women into four fictionalized characters. Sally Field's character, Betty, is the only one who has the same first name as one of the real ladies, Betty Pensavalle. The women in the movie gathering together in a living room to cheer passionately for their Patriots, especially for quarterback Tom Brady, is about the only resemblance to the actual women. As we'll explain below, the story of the real women served as the genesis of the 80 for Brady movie, but the film is largely fictional.
Who are the real 80 for Brady ladies?In researching the 80 for Brady true story, we learned that the real women, who had been friends for more than 70 years, included Betty Pensavalle, Elaine St. Martin, Claire Boardman, and two other friends, Pat and Anita. The Tom Brady movie captures a similar spirit of friendship.
Pictured is the real group of friends who inspired the 80 for Brady
movie. Photo: CBS Sunday Morning
Where did the real women live?
A fact-check reveals that the real 80 for Brady women lived in the Massachusetts town of North Attleborough, which is roughly 45 minutes southeast of Boston and not far from the Rhode Island border.
How did the real ladies start their "Over 80 for Brady" group?
In real life, the women came together after the deaths of their husbands. According to CBS Sunday Morning, "Game days became the link that kept their friendship from fumbling." They took turns getting together at each other's houses. "One Sunday here, one Sunday at my house," Elaine St. Martin told CBS. "It would [rotate] through the five of us." Betty Pensavalle told the Sun Chronicle that the fan club didn't gather when the Patriots played night games because the games were "too late." Still, the ladies got together so often that they were given the nickname the "Over 80 for Brady" fan club. The 80 for Brady real story confirms that they could be heard shouting at the TV, though, in real life, they did not curse. Betty Pensavalle's grandson, Max Gross, even created matching t-shirts for them.
Pictured together are Over 80 for Brady founding members Betty Pensavalle and Elaine St. Martin. Photo: CBS Sunday Morning
Did the real-life 80 for Brady women fawn over Tom Brady?Yes. For example, Over 80 for Brady fan club member Betty Pensavalle, 94, didn't hold back in sharing what she thinks of the former Patriots quarterback, calling him "handsome. Adorable. Gorgeous." Elaine St. Martin described him as "really handsome."
Betty Pensavalle, one of Over 80 for Brady's founding members, is pictured at home next to a Tom Brady standee. Photo: CBS Sunday Morning
Did the real 80 for Brady ladies ever make it to the Super Bowl?
No. Unlike what's shown in the movie, the five women who made up the real group never made it to the Super Bowl. The film sends its ladies, portrayed by Sally Field, Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, and Rita Moreno, on a fictional spur-of-the-moment trip to Houston in an attempt to see Tom Brady and the Patriots go up against the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, which was played in early February 2017. Not only do they make it to the game in the movie, they even make it into the Patriots' locker room, a fun but entirely made-up moment. The only shred of truth to this entire portion of the film is that the New England Patriots did emerge victorious in the game.
Did they enter a hot wing eating contest?No. As you might have guessed, the movie's depiction of the women entering a hot wing eating contest emceed by Guy Fieri is entirely fictional.
Betty (Sally Field) participates in a hot wing eating contest emceed by Guy Fieri in the 80 for Brady
Did the 80 for Brady real women pose as backup dancers for the halftime show?
No. If this amusing scene was screaming preposterous to you, you'd be correct. As stated above, our fact-check revealed that the real Over 80 for Brady women never attended the Super Bowl and certainly didn't make it onto the field for some halftime antics.
Did the real women ever meet Tom Brady?
No. The 80 for Brady real ladies never met their favorite player, Tom Brady. While the two remaining active members of the Over 80 for Brady fan club were given their own private premiere of the movie, they have yet to meet NFL superstar Tom Brady, who was preparing for a playoff game at the time of the screening. "I hope we see him before we die!" Elaine St. Martin told CBS Sunday Morning, to which Betty Pensavalle replied, "They better hurry up!"
Actress Lily Tomlin and NFL superstar Tom Brady are pictured in a scene in the movie.
Are all of the 80 for Brady real ladies still alive?While researching the 80 for Brady true story, we learned that at the time of the movie's release in early February 2023, Betty Pensavalle and Elaine St. Martin, who were 94 and 95 respectively, were the only active members of the group. Pat and Anita were in assisted living and Claire Boardman had passed away. Reflecting on their time with one another, Betty commented, "Good friends stick together and stay together and do for each other." -CBS Sunday Morning
Admittedly, Betty and Elaine were upset when Brady signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. "I was angry with him," said Elaine. "I wanted to kill him." However, they've since learned to accept the decision and sometimes they'll put Buccaneers games on a second television so they can see how he's doing. -Sun Chronicle
Betty Pensavalle (right) is pictured with her grandson, Max Gross (left), a Hollywood talent agent who pitched the story to Tom Brady's production company, 199 Productions. Photo: CBS Sunday Morning
How did 80 for Brady make it to the big screen?
While researching the real story, we discovered that Max Gross, the grandson of Over 80 for Brady fan club member Betty Pensavalle, worked as a talent agent in Hollywood and decided to pitch the women's story as a film. Tom Brady heard about it via his nascent production company, 199 Productions, and jumped at the chance to make the movie. After it was greenlit, Brady sent Pensavalle a video message, telling her, "I wanna make a movie based on your Over 80 for Brady crew." According to the Sun Chronicle, Pensavalle was in disbelief. "Oh my God, Max! How did you do that?" she asked her grandson during a phone call, questioning whether it was really Tom Brady or an impersonator.
Tom Brady told the Over 80 for Brady fan club about the movie by recording a video message that was sent to Betty Pensavalle. Photo: CBS Sunday Morning
Did Tom Brady produce 80 for Brady?Yes, Tom Brady made a movie about himself, or to describe it better, a movie about four senior ladies so obsessed with him that they make it their mission to go to the Super Bowl and meet him. He produced and developed the movie with Donna Gigliotti and Endeavor Content. As Brady said himself, his role as an actor in the film is "small" and is essentially a cameo. He spent two days filming his part and told Variety that he "learned a lot" while on set. Brady's former Patriots teammates Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, and Danny Amendola also have cameos.
In a Paramount Pictures behind-the-scenes featurette for the movie, Brady described working with actresses Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sally Field, and Rita Moreno as a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" and described them as the GOATs [Greatest of All Time] in what they do."
Tom Brady is pictured on the set of the 80 for Brady
movie with director Kyle Marvin