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Roasted


The Roast of Tom Brady dropped on Netflix this week, just in time for Mother’s Day. Early in the show, there was an almost surreal moment, when one of the roasters, Jeff Ross made a massage parlor joke about New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Tom Brady stood up, walked over to Ross (similar to Will Smith-Chris Rock Oscar moment) and told him, "Don't say that s--- again." Brady made it very clear not to make fun of Robert Kraft. It was strange that Brady was that concerned with protecting the ego and the sensibilities of a multibillionaire owner of a National Football League team but then said and did nothing when comedian after comedian made jokes about the desolation of his marriage, about his ex-wife, Gisele Bündchen, and his broken family. Brady sat there and took those jokes with a forced smile plastered on his face.


Brady didn’t stand up and tell the comedians to shut those jokes down. Not that I care about Tom Brady’s ego, or even Gisele Bündchen’s, I’m more concerned with his children who were most likely watching as their mother and father and their family were being dragged through the mud. And even if their kids were not watching, most of their friends were, and the kids heard all about it the next few days at school or saw the clips on social media. I find it fascinating that a professional athlete was more concerned about the protecting the ego of a billionaire who doesn’t need to be protected and who actually engaged in the morally questionable behavior that was being mocked but could care less about how other jokes would hurt his children who have done nothing wrong.


Regardless of what happened in their marriage, Gisele is still the mother of Brady’s children, so when he put her on display in front of millions of people so professional comedians can take shots at her, he was also allowing them to take shots at his children because the shots aimed at her also hit them. You could say that the kids need to get tough, and they need to learn to deal with the fact that their father is Tom Brady and their mother is Gisele Bündchen. That’s fine, but why can’t we say the same for Robert Kraft? ‘You have to get tough. You were the one who went to the massage parlors; you broke the law; and you use your money, power and influence to get out of trouble.’ But no one was allowed to joke about that. Brady didn’t care about protecting his children or the mother of his children, he only cared about protecting the multibillionaire. This episode gives you a little glimpse of where we are in society. Everybody is so focused on themselves and so focused on pleasing power, that the youth of our society is being steamrolled.


Last month, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, was on the Kelce Brothers podcast, New Heights, during which they were discussing the NFL rule against taunting your opponent. Joe Burrow unabashedly said, “I'm pro-taunting. We're all grown adults... I'm not gonna get my feelings hurt.” That comment, once again, exposed the ego and the self-absorption of the modern-day athlete. Joe Burrow actually believed that the rule against taunting was put in place to protect the ego and feelings of pro athletes like him. The fact that he saw that question and framed his answer in those terms shows how completely out of touch many modern day athletes are. The rule against taunting was not to protect the egos of millionaire NFL players; it was about the NFL having a responsibility to their fan base and to society as a whole to present a high level of character and class, which hopefully would permeate through society.


What happens in the NFL trickles down to college football which trickles down to high school football which trickles down to Pop Warner football. So, nobody really cares that when Joe Burrow throws a pick-6 for a touchdown and one of the defensive players gets up in his face and taunts him, that his ego will get bruised. What we don’t want is the NFL to be turned into a taunt fest. After every play, there is a winner and a loser, and therefore an opportunity for one player to taunt another player, and then the game turns into taunt after taunt after taunt, and before we know it, NFL players are devising all new and creative ways to taunt each other, ESPN is running the “taunt of the week”. And then, on a Saturday morning a 10-year-old kid in a Pop Warner game beats another kid for a touchdown and he gets up in the other kid’s face, taunts him, spikes the ball and embarrasses him in front of his friends and his family. That’s the result of the NFL opening the doors to taunting.


I’m going to repeat it again. Nobody cares about protecting Joe Burrow’s feelings. Nobody does. Nobody. That’s not what we’re trying to protect. We care about the 10-year-old kid who’s going to be embarrassed in front of everybody at the field one day because the NFL has endorsed taunting. And then overtime we’re creating a society of kids who show no respect to each other, show no respect to the game, who will eventually show no respect to their coaches and their parents, because their idols who play in the NFL, show no respect to each other and no respect to the game.


These NFL players will defend their behavior by arguing that, they’re not your kids parent; you’re your kid’s parent. And that’s absolutely right. But when they have a huge platform which influences greater society, and most importantly, influences the youth of our society, handle that platform with responsibility, and don’t make our job as parents that much harder because our kids’ idols in the NFL are doing the exact opposite of what we as parents are teaching them. That only works to undercut the credibility of the parents, and their ability to influence their children.


We can teach our children to respect their teammates and to respect their opponents, and they will respond back by saying, Joe Burrow taunts his opponents after he throws a touchdown; the Major League baseball players flip their bats after hitting a home run; the NBA players get up in their opponents’ faces after sinking a three, and so on, and so on, and so on. This approval of a taunting disrespectful attitude on the playing field, may force many parents to either not allow their kids to watch professional sports or talk bad about the professional athletes who don’t act appropriately. And that all hurts the NFL and professional sports.


And if these athletes are going to argue that the NFL and professional sports do not have that level of influence over the rest of society, then do everybody a favor and stop with all the social messaging on the playing fields and on the jerseys and during the National Anthem. You can’t have both ways – you can’t use the platform of the NFL to try to influence people for social justice causes, and then claim that your lack of character and the lack of respect that you show on the NFL playing field does not and should not influence the rest of society.


In the end, it doesn’t matter how many touchdowns you throw, how many three-pointers you sink, or how many home runs you hit, what matters most is who you are as a human being. And at some point, along the way that has been lost. We, as a society, have overvalued the abilities on the playing field and undervalued the importance of the individual’s character in society. And everybody is responsible for that.

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J Garrett is a graduate of Princeton University. He has been a contributor to the website Real Clear Politics. He has recently published his first novel, No Wind.

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Jack Hiller
Jack Hiller
13 may

This perfectly well tells the truth:


In the end, it doesn’t matter how many touchdowns you throw, how many three-pointers you sink, or how many home runs you hit, what matters most is who you are as a human being. And at some point, along the way that has been lost. We, as a society, have overvalued the abilities on the playing field and undervalued the importance of the individual’s character in society. And everybody is responsible for that.

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koenigsking
koenigsking
12 may

There was a day almost 40 yrs ago, as a new father, I decided the NFL didn't have anything to offer me or my family. I turned them off and haven't watched (or cared about) a game since. My life is better for it

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Judd Garrett is a former NFL player, coach and executive. He is a frequent contributer to the website Real Clear Politics, and has recently published his first novel, No Wind

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