I turned 60 this past spring. I know what everyone says: “It’s better than the alternative.” (That is certainly true.) or “60 is the new 40” (I’m not so sure of that.) But, still, when I put my age down on a form of some kind, it’s hard not to feel some anxiety and even a bit of sadness.
But, this morning, I’m glad I’m 60. At least I’m glad I’m not 11.
When I heard the news yesterday about Tom Brady’s alleged (or proven) destruction of evidence, I stared at the computer, shook my head and frowned quite a bit. But then, I moved on to something else and I’m glad I could.
I am a huge Patriots fan and have admired Brady since the day he took over as quarterback for my team. I really believed that he was, if not innocent, at least no more guilty than the other quarterbacks who tampered with game balls or any of the other players who crossed over the line a bit when trying to gain a competitive advantage. All of professional sports seems to be about players going right up to the line of what is prohibited and daring someone to catch them if and when they cross that line.
My problem right now is not with what Tom Brady allegedly (I’ll still use that word) did.I still believe it was borderline and could easily fall into the category of just taking a bit of an advantage for comfort rather than for significantly better performance- a perspective justified by the results of the 2nd half of the Colts game and the Super Bowl when the balls were being monitored and he was superb. It seems that the league picks and chooses whom to investigate and whom to punish and how much and I do believe that the whole affair seemed like a witch hunt. I still believe that. And, I still believe that the league will be worse off with quarterbacks being monitored more closely regarding footballs.
But, all of that is immaterial right now. If it is true that Tom Brady knew he was guilty all along and lied and destroyed evidence of that guilt, he is not worthy of the adulation that we give our sports heroes. Yes, I still believe he is a great quarterback but I have lost respect for him. I don’t know why he didn’t say from the beginning: “Quarterbacks all manipulate the balls. I like mine softer and maybe we crossed the line in taking air out here or there. We’re all looking for that advantage and we pushed it just a bit too far”. I would have had tremendous respect for that type of statement.
Obviously that is a bit idealistic and I know the sports world doesn’t work that way. But, at least I would have been able to cheer for him with a full heart.
Now, about being 11. I am old enough to keep sports in perspective. I am old enough to have other aspects of my life to concentrate on (I have to be at work in a few minutes). And, I am old enough to know that not everyone lives up to our expectations of them and we can shrug our shoulders and move on.
But, I worry about the 11 year old Patriots fans.
They’re the ones Tom Brady let down.
I just hope they don’t lose faith in all us “grown-ups”.
Oh, and what will I do when the Pats season starts? I’ll be cheering for Jimmy Garoppolo, the back up quarterback to lead the Patriots to a 4-0 record. When Brady comes back? We’ll see. I just don’t know. But, if I decide not to watch the Patriots and not to cheer for them, I’ll be OK.
I wish I could be as sure about the 11 year olds.