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Don’t hate Brady: A letter from an Eagles fan

| Tuesday, January 30, 2018

We’re just five days away from the biggest sporting event of the year. On Sunday, the Philadelphia Eagles will take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII. While most analysts expect the Patriots to win, they also believe it will be a close and exciting game.

I’m an Eagles fan. I’ve loved this team since I was a little kid. On Sunday, I’ll put on my Carson Wentz jersey. I’ll try and find the closest thing to a cheesesteak South Bend has to offer. I’ll be nervous, but I will watch intently with hope in my team. I will cheer hard for the Eagles — and it seems like most of the country will too. Despite the reputation Philly fans have, it was an easy choice for many. The Patriots are among the most hated franchises in all of sports. Many are just tired of seeing them contend year after year. Others believe cheating allegations have tarnished their legacy. A lot of people dislike Bill Belichick, the team’s hoodie-wearing, unnervingly stoic head coach. But most don’t like Tom Brady. Actually, most can’t stand Tom Brady.

I can’t imagine why. Brady is, inarguably, the greatest quarterback of all time. Along with LeBron James, Serena Williams, Derek Jeter and Tiger Woods, he has defined this generation of sport. We’ve been lucky to watch his career unfold over the last two decades. He holds a number of records, including for most Super Bowl wins and most Super Bowl MVPs. In 2017, he mounted a 31-point comeback against the Atlanta Falcons to win Super Bowl LI. In this year’s AFC Championship Game, Brady played and won with 12 stitches in his throwing hand. Oh, and he’s also 40 years old, the oldest quarterback in the NFL, showing no signs of slowing down. He is a born competitor. There is nothing detestable about how Brady plays the game. Only admirable.

And then there’s something that happened last year, in a press conference before the Super Bowl. Brady was speaking to the media when a 7-year-old named Joseph was given the chance to ask a question. He looked to Brady and said “Many people say you are their hero, but who is your hero?” Brady smiled at the boy. “Who’s my hero? That’s a great question,” he replied. He thought for a moment before saying “Well, I think my dad is my hero, because he is someone I look up to every day, and –– ” He paused there, as if to think again. His eyes welled up with tears. He sniffled. Tom Brady –– cool, collected, always unfazed Tom Brady –– was choked up. He closed his eyes, nodded and smiled at Joseph. “My dad,” he said again.

It was his most humanizing moment ever. In that instant, he was more than the Brady most of the world sees. He was more than a shark-like, invincible, five-time-champion quarterback. He was just Tom. It’s easy to forget that he is more than a football player. He’s also a person, like you and me. He has hopes and dreams. He loves his parents and his wife and his children and his job. He has successes, and even a few failures. He’s just a person, who happens to be really, really good at football.

I’m still an Eagles fan. I hope Nick Foles and the rest of the team can lead Philadelphia to its first ever Super Bowl victory. But on Sunday, I’ll be rooting for my team –– not against the other one. Tom Brady makes it very hard to root against him.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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