The History Of The Modern Dad Bod

An Oral History Of The Modern Dad Bod

Recently popularized, today’s Dad Bod phenomenon is actually not a phenomenon at all. There comes a time in every man’s life where his body starts to deteriorate and his mind wanders into “is this a pulled muscle or just old age?” mode. But as today’s Dad Bod proud population steadily grows, we must pay tribute to those who came before us and have allowed us to thrive.

The following legends have not only paved the way for guys like you and I, but they’ve affected the lives of millions by making the Dad Bod a badge of honor that we can all recognize as beautiful.

The Dawn Of An Era: David Wells & His Perfect Game

The year was 1998. A month into the season, the Yankees were en route to winning the AL East by 22 games on the back of the puffy-faced David Wells. Finishing the season with an 18-4 record (and an astounding 214+ innings pitched), his season was jump-started by the dawn of today’s modern Dad Bod era: his perfect game.

After retiring 27 straight Minnesota Twins batters, David Wells solidified himself as the forefather of Dad Bod. Belts everywhere feared the near 250-pound athlete who toed the slab with an unmatched confidence. A star was born.

2000: Tom Brady

The world didn’t feel the gravity of this moment in Dad Bod history until 2002 when Tom Brady won his first Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. But when the unassuming Michigan quarterback graced the NFL combine in his elastic-banded sweat shorts, dorky haircut, and spectacularly untoned frame, the world had no idea that he’d eventually become the model-marrying, Ugg-wearing, sideline-screaming quarterback that he is today.

And while no one is looking at him for his Dad Bod now because they’re distracted by his chiseled jawline, Tom Brady set the stage for one the mavericks of Dad Bod lore.

2000-2008: The Will Ferrell Years

An Oral History Of The Modern Dad Bod

Before becoming the defining face of the Dad Bod generation, Will Ferrell burst onto the Dad Bod scene with his now infamous Saturday Night Live “More Cowbell” scene that featured his perfectly doughy torso just bursting out of a form-fitting shirt.

Just when we thought his Dad Bod would be restricted by the constraints of the small screen, 2003’s Old School gave us one the most memorable moments in all of Dad Bod history when Frank The Tank went streaking. Never before have cinemas been so enthralled and captivated by a naked, stretch-marked man before.

The coming years brought us cinematic greats such as Elf, Anchorman, Wedding Crashers, Talladega Nights, Step Brothers, and Semi-Pro, all of which were fueled by America’s Dad Bod sweetheart.

2008-2013: The Stoner Renaissance

An Oral History Of The Modern Dad Bod

Between 2008 and 2013, we found ourselves soaking in the overflow from the Will Ferrell effect. With stars like Jason Segel (I Love You, Man, The Five-Year Engagement, This Is 40), Seth Rogen (Pineapple Express, Zack and Miri Make A Porno, This Is The End), and Chris Pratt (Parks & Recreation), Dad Bods were running the comedy game and taking no prisoners while doing so.

While box offices domestically and abroad rode the stoner wave until Chris Pratt decided to take an anti-Dad Bod stance with his svelte frame in Guardians Of The Galaxy, effectively leaving the Dad Bod crown up for grabs.

2013: Golf’s Golden Year

An Oral History Of The Modern Dad Bod

While athletes have proven themselves successful in years past, 2013 was powered by the PGA Tour’s quintessential Dad Bods, Phil Mickelson and Jason Dufner.

When Mickelson started Sunday at The Open Championship five shots back, no one truly believed that his Dad Bod had the endurance to fight back and overtake the top of the leaderboard at Muirfield. But to the surprise of the world, his man boobs and love handles got a workout after #18 when he lifted the Claret Jug for his fifth major.

Riding the Dad Bod momentum into the PGA Tour, Jason Dufner found himself putting for the 2-stroke victory at Oak Hill to capture the 2013 PGA Championship. His chubby hands were full of trophies, dip tins, and the immaculate rear of his wife Amanda. Dad Bods everywhere rejoiced.

But with Jason and Amanda’s subsequent divorce (in addition to his severe and somewhat insulting weightloss), today’s one-man Dad Bod wrecking crew was ushered in.

2014-Present: The Modern Marvel

An Oral History Of The Modern Dad Bod

Leaving Sports Illustrated Swimsuit models Erin Heatherton and Bar Rafaeli in his rearview, Leonardo DiCaprio is using all the models, islands, and yachts at his disposal as Dad Bod fuel to give us all the Dad Bod hero that we need. With every ocean-soaked t-shirt that doesn’t fit squarely over his expanding stomach, the collective Dad Bod contingent soars to new heights. The barriers have been broken down and we’ve all reached the promised land.

We must embrace this golden age and stand with him in solidarity so we, too, can be Dad Bod greats.

Images via YouTube

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Will deFries (Twitter / Instagram) is a Senior Writer at Grandex and the world's foremost authority on Sunday Scaries (Twitter / Instagram). Email me at

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