New England Patriots' quarterback Tom Brady is the king of cool. So says the Boston Globe, anyhow. According to the Globe, Brady has carefully cultivated his coolness. He's displayed high-style images of himself in GQ, Sports Illustrated and many other magazines. He's managed to cross cultural lines and appeal to everyone.
Men like him because he is an underdog who made good. He's been remarkable since coming off the bench in 2001. He's calm under fire — a man's man.
Women love him because of his masculinity and rugged good looks — and because both are softened by his sensitive, vulnerable side. He admitted to being nervous about the birth of his son, after all. He wept the day his ex-girlfriend Bridget Moynahan bore him. One fashion expert said his weeping is the stuff that makes women swoon. Lots of people have been swooning since John Edward Thomas Moynahan was born.
With his sports-celebrity dad and model-actress mother, he'll surely be a handsome kid, a style icon in his own right. He's already done his first magazine cover with his doting mom. He'll never want for anything. Since mom and dad are wealthy and worldly, he'll have the best of everything — the best clothes, the best care, the best education. To be sure, everybody is happy about the birth of John Edward Thomas. What's not to be happy about? The proud dad? The loving mother? The son who will never want for anything?
Then why does this story make me sad?
Let me tell you a happy story about another beautiful woman and a football player. The woman also had model good looks. She was a high school cheerleader. One day she fell for the football player. He was a big fellow, the starting fullback. He didn't have Brady's GQ style, but he had a rugged handsomeness of his own. He never would play professional football, but he received a dozen scholarship offers.
But he didn't want to go to college. All he wanted was to marry the cheerleader. After serving two years in the military, he did just that. They had modest means, but they worked hard to create a home for their children. The only thing they could lavish their kids with was their love.
That cheerleader was my mother and the fullback, my father. Both were there for me every night. Even when he was tired, my father took me to the back yard and taught me how to hit, catch and throw.
I don't fault Brady and his ex-girlfriend for their story. Life happens. Humans make mistakes. Sometimes a child enters the world in circumstances that are far from perfect. I fault the rest of us for gushing about it, though. Is it really a cause for celebration that a little boy's dad isn't married to his mom? That the gossip magazines are feasting on the alleged coldness between the two? That his dad lives on the other side of the country unable to play catch with him most nights? You think Brady was filled with happiness and joy the day he learned his ex-girlfriend was pregnant with his child? Would you want to bring your first child into the world to a woman you no longer love and are in no way committed to?
I wish the best for Brady's kid. I hope he turns out to be happy and healthy and every bit as gifted and successful as his mother and father are. But let me ask you something: If you were John Edward Thomas Moynahan, would you rather have Brady and Moynahan for parents or a husband and wife of modest means who lavish you with their togetherness, presence and love?
The answer to that question used to be obvious, but I don't think it is anymore. Here's why: If anything, Tom Brady's image and cultural status have improved since his ex-girlfriend had his kid. That says more about us than it does Tom Brady.
There's nothing cool about that.