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  • Reverend James Squire

Tom Brady Or Jason Kelce




I read in an interview of Tom Brady where he was asked the secret to his success in life. He said, “All you can do is the best that you can do! I try always to do the right thing!” Brady’s words and attitude could be at the heart of issues that I have spent a long-time helping parents and kids navigate over the terrain of family life. Last week Marcus Hayes wrote an article in the Inquirer, “Good riddance Tom, if you are truly gone.” Hayes doesn’t agree with Brady’s assessment of “always trying to do the right thing.” Hayes thinks it rings hollow! I will highlight some of the things that Hayes mentioned. “He is the poster boy of smug. He is the most despised athlete of his time in a society that reveres the underdog. He has benefitted from the NFL’s most notorious cheating scandals. He stole signals from the opposition called Spygate and was at the center of preferring underinflated footballs referred to a Deflategate. He refused to shake Nick Foles’ hand after the Eagles beat his team in the Super Bowl. He dumped Bridget Moynihan when she was pregnant although he is supporting his son by her. He sold a snake oil cure for concussions. He was referred to by players in the league as Tom Petty.”


But we save his most egregious fault for last. He chose football over what was best for his family. We can’t say that he was trying to be a good provider for his now former wife and super model, Gisele Bundchen made more money than he did so it wasn’t for the money.


So, what did Brady really mean by that two sentences statement that spoke of his success? He meant that he was the GOAT of functioning as the best quarterback ever. Did he actually forget that he was the poster boy for bad moral behavior when he was a professional athlete or did that just not matter? His divorce was very much lived out in the public eye. However, we don’t really know what happened behind closed doors, but I have a suspicion. I think that his Gisele Bundchen just found it intolerable that he wasn’t the GOAT as a family man. The straw that broke the camel’s back was when he decided to unretire. He thought he could have it all.


I felt sorry for him when I viewed the twitter video of his “real retirement.” He looked like he lost his best friend because, in my view, he did and her name is Gisele Bundchen and not one of his former players from his glory days. It wasn’t one of his “bros.”


In the words of my favorite President, here is the deal! There are two types of styles of family relationships. One is emotionalism where the emphasis is on intimacy, collaboration, and the world of emotions. The other is the world of functionalism where your focus and value is based in what you and others can do. They are not necessarily an either/or situation, but when one dominates the other, then the trouble begins. That is when either the student or the parents find themselves to my office. It is important to note that these two aspects of relationship are not gender based.


Essentially as someone such as Brady knows, we play to our strengths. If he saw a way to capitalize on a weakness in an opponents’ defense, he would be right there. Football is about emotions certainly and Brady seemed to enjoy the thrill of support from teammates. I don’t believe that it would have been easy for him to transition to emotionalism when he got home assuming that he got there on a regular basis. He commented on the number of important family gatherings as well as holidays that he missed as a result of football. His former wife seemed to carry the load that was getting heavier each year. Notice that she seemed to have a balance between emotion and function, looking out for her kids but restarting the function of her career as a model. It can be done, sort of!


I have counseled more captains of industry, education, and politics than you can imagine when they thought that they could successfully transfer what is great in the work place but a disaster in the home. It was made into a musical called The Sound of Music with Captain Von Trapp representing an extreme example. Remember all of us default to what works for us and Brady is no different.


But what would Brady list as his successes off the field with his family? I haven’t heard any GOAT themes come through.


Kids always give me a clue when they know I am meeting with their parents. They will sometimes come in and see me to make sure that I have the whole picture. It rests with a question that is asked when they are with one or the other parent. Functionalism asks, “What did you do in school today? Emotionalism asks, “How are you? How are you doing?”


Maintaining a balance in family life between function and emotion has been a constant struggle for me. I have to work at it. A friend of mine is a high-profile coach. He stays grounded by his family. He is quick to tell me that his wife runs the show as she is a balance between emotion and function. Unlike Brady, he says, “She keeps all of us moving in the right direction.” I think that is what Brady’s wife tried to do.


I noticed something after the recent Eagles’ division victory. Did you watch where the players went after the victory when interviews were being taken? I was struck that Jason Kelce was off to the side celebrating and playing with his two little girls. He defines functionalism as he is headed to the Football Hall of Fame someday, but seems to have much more that Brady needed to learn about emotionalism.


But there is something that keeps this balance from occurring. It is the Greek word, Eros, which is defined as passion. When passion enters our life, reason leaves. I am not just talking about sexual experience, it applies as well to life experience such as we you are passionate at playing a sport, being a great coach, or for me being a chaplain at a school where I attempted to balance functionalism and emotionalism for my family and my community. Passion is associated with most over achievers such as Brady and, I must confess, me and many others. I

loved what I did, and I love my family.


As one of my sons often says about what he does, “if it were easy everyone would be doing it.”

I think you can get close to that balance if you have people who can check you and keep you grounded. There are two other things that are needed. First, you can’t have it all. Second, there are people such as myself and many others that I have worked with who had to be taught how to get balance. One of the people that I counseled who was quite wealthy and successful. He couldn’t go on vacations and wanted help with that. He knew that we had similar backgrounds of struggle. He and I agreed that we could learn from our wives who had perfected the vital balance of emotion and function. All three of my sons are the hardest working people in their chosen fields that I know because they are passionate about their life’s work. I am always telling them to take a break, work less, take a vacation. All three love to travel and need to do more of it.


I am trying to avoid the first and last verses of “Cat’s in the Cradle” sung by Harry Chapin.


My child just arrived the other day

"He came to the world in the usual way

But there were planes to catch, and bills to pay’

He learned to walk while I was away

And he was talking fore’ I knew it, and as he grew

He’d say, ‘I am going to be just like you dad

‘You know I’m gonna be like you’


“And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon

Little boy blue and the man in the moon

‘When you coming home son?’ I don’t know when’

But we’ll get together then, dad

We’re gonna have a good time then"


There has been a lot of hype about the Eagles. Here is something that you may not know. Jason Kelce is your basic family man. He was asked when he was two what he wanted to be when he grew up. His parents said he answered, “I want to be a father!”


So here is the question. I posed this kind of question in ethics class. It may or may not be easy for you. Students will sometimes expand the context with the goal of having both, having it all. But in this case, I want an either/or decision to get at the heart if one dominates, Who would you want to be or who would you want your child to be (sorry for just the single gender) in a picture? Brady holding up the Super Bowl Trophy or Kelce playing with his children? How have you/will you get the balance that is needed with emotionalism and functionalism with that added ingredient of passion for both being the goal…homeostasis…the vital balance remembering you can’t have it all so be kind to yourself.

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