I confess that I hate Tom Brady. Ever since the snot nosed kid beat my St. Louis (previously LA) Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl, I’ve despised him. Plus he’s handsome, rich, married to a gorgeous woman, and wins all the time, not that I’m jealous or anything. So I was trying to suppress my glee and schadenfreude this morning when I read headlines such as, “Tom Brady’s image is flattened as Deflategate report is released.” Or one highlighted on Drudge, “PAPER: Tom Brady Suspension ‘Could Span Up To One Season’…”
If you are not an NFL Football fan, or didn’t see the AFC Championship game where New England beat the Indianapolis Colts, Deflategate (the legacy of Richard Nixon will ever be with us) is the controversy that erupted when after the game it was found that the footballs New England and Brady used were just slightly underinflated, which supposedly helps the quarterback better grip the ball when passing. At the time Brady completely denied knowing anything about the suspect footballs, and as I remember it, everyone then thought he was lying. The Patriots, and their coach, Bill Belichik, have a bit of a history of cheating.
I’m sure I am far from the only one feeling schadenfreude this morning, and there will be plenty of internet ink spilled on this relatively benign controversy in the cosmic scheme of things. But given I always tend to see things in those cosmic terms, and that I’m a Christian, I think Tom Brady is a poster boy for the downside of Idolatry. The writer and pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Tim Keller, writes about sin in “The Reason for God,” that
Most people think of sin primarily as ‘breaking divine rules’, but [Soren] Kierkegaard knows that the very first of the Ten Commandments is to ‘have no other gods before me’. So, according to the Bible, the primary way to define sin is not just the doing of bad things, but the making of good things into ultimate things. It is seeking to establish a sense of self by making something else more central to your significance, purpose and happiness than your relationship to God.
Could it be said of many other people more than Tom Brady that he “has it all”? But obviously it wasn’t enough. Just one more Super Bowl victory, then he would have it all. What drives a person who seems to “have it all” to do something that seems so utterly irrational? I even seem to remember that the Patriots were significantly favored to win the game, and in fact killed the Colts 45 to 7! I think “turning good things into ultimate things” is as good an explanation as any. So given that I’m a sinner too, I’ll make every effort to tamp down my glee. As Jesus said, he who is without sin . . . .