Tova Katz remembers one particularly chilly evening, cheering on her son at his youth hockey game, making small talk with one other parent as they braved the cold. That other parent was Tom Brady.
“He wasn’t there as a celebrity or quarterback,” Katz said. “He was there as a parent.”
That day was one of many that Katz can recall witnessing the Patriots quarterback away from the glare of Gillette Stadium: spending his free time at youth sports games and supporting his son Benny. Since both lived in Brookline and Katz’s son, Amiel, now 10 years old, was born just weeks apart from Benny, she often found herself at the same ice rinks and baseball diamonds as Brady, seeing him be just another parent rather than a sports legend.
In an open letter on Medium called “Our Kids Played Youth Sports Together … Here’s What I Learned About Tom Brady,” Katz offers some details and plenty of praise for Brady as a dad and as a member of the Brookline community. Perhaps her highest compliment? She calls Brady “a mensch: a decent, kind human being, a leader and role model for our children.”
Katz writes about little things (Brady helping the other parents put away equipment after practice) and not-so-little things (like when TB12 made it to his son’s hockey game “just hours before the Pats boarded buses to fly out to Houston" for Super Bowl LI).
While the kids played hockey and baseball, the six-time Super Bowl winner blended in with the crowd — no entourage, no fuss.
“It impressed me that he never had security, and I think a lot of parents wouldn’t have known who he was,” Katz told the Globe. “He was just there to be a dad."
As a longtime Patriots fan, Katz is looking, perhaps a bit warily, to the future and wondering what it holds for the team and for Brady. So she ends her open letter with a sincere note of thanks.
“So, Tom, whatever the future brings, please know that what you have here in New England is more than legions of dedicated fans and admirers, but an entire generation of parents who raised children in parallel to you and feel blessed to be able to hold you up to their kids as a role model of decency, resilience, persistence, and kindness.”
She adds: “On behalf of the parents of New England, from the bottom of so many hearts: Thank you.”
Matt Berg can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mattberg33.