a super question...and answer
Super Bowl LI (that’s 51, by the way) is coming up this Sunday in Houston between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots. One of the annual traditions of Super Bowl week is Tuesday’s NFL Opening Night, a three-hour media event where players from both teams get asked just about every type of question – football related or not – from fans, entertainers, and media members. Most of the questions asked and most of the responses given are redundant, rehearsed, or ridiculous.
There was, however, one very short, but very meaningful question and answer on Super Bowl’s Opening Night. It consisted of only one question, from a 7 year-old fan to Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. He asked simply, “Who’s your hero?”
Now, let me start by saying this: I don’t know, and don’t really care, how you feel about Tom Brady the person or the quarterback. There aren’t many professional athletes more polarizing than him, so you aren’t alone in feeling however you feel, good or bad. In the interest of this note of encouragement to you today, though, Tom Brady himself isn’t really that important. In this clip I simply want you to see a son, talking for a minute about his dad, and hero.
What’s striking is not the answer Brady gives, but how strongly he gets blindsided by the emotion of his answer. The words alone don’t give the full account of his response – they were pretty simple:
“Who’s my hero? That’s a great question. Well, I think my dad is my hero because he’s someone that I look up to every day. And uh…(long pause)…my dad.”
But watching this son talk about his hero reveals much more than the words alone ever could. Why is his dad his hero? “Because he’s the one that I look up to every day,” he said. And then…what was next? It was like, in that moment, as Tom Brady considered why his dad was his hero, a million reasons suddenly flooded his mind. He didn’t say the words – he couldn’t, but you can almost see in his eyes all the answers bombarding him at once:
“Because he always had my back.”
“Because he pushed me hard.”
“Because he sacrificed for me.”
“Because he picked me up.”
“Because he showed me the way.”
“Because he’s been in my corner.”
“Because he fought for me.”
“Because he led by example.”
“Because he kept it real.”
“Because he held me accountable.”
“Because he supported me.”
“Because he loved me well.”
“Because I couldn’t be a champion without him.”
That emotion represented, I think for Tom Brady, a father’s lifetime commitment to his son. It didn’t represent some monumental moment they shared once upon a time. Instead, it was Brady’s recognition of a million little choices, many of which a son probably never recognized at the time, made by a dad who was committed to raising a champion. I don’t think it represented perfection as a father – I’m sure Brady’s dad made plenty of mistakes in parenting, as we all do. But I do think it represented a consistency, an intentionality, and a love that was evident to Tom Brady not in some singular event – but in each and every ordinary day.
Someday, someone is going to ask your son that simple question, “Who is your hero?” How incredible if he was asked while sitting at a podium preparing for the Super Bowl – but I’d say that’s unlikely to happen. Maybe he will have to answer it for a reporter. Maybe he’ll have to write about it in an essay for school. Maybe it’s simply a question one day he thinks to ask himself. I don’t know when it will be asked, or where, or by whom.
I do know that if your son answers the same way Tom Brady did, then it probably won’t be determined by some monumental moment you shared once upon a time. His answer will represent your commitment to all the ordinary days in life. It will represent a million little choices, many of which your son will probably never recognize at the time, that are part of your commitment to raising a champion athlete and man. It will not represent your perfection – you’ll make plenty of mistakes in parenting, as we all do. But it will represent a consistency, an intentionality, and a love that is evident in the ordinary days…probably like today.
Help your son get closer to his full potential…
…by having his back today.
…by pushing him hard today.
…by sacrificing for him today.
…by picking him up today.
…by showing him the way today.
…by being in his corner today.
…by fighting for him today.
…by leading by example today.
…by keeping it real today.
…by holding him accountable today.
…by supporting him today.
…by loving him well today.
He can’t be a champion without you.