HOUSTON — We know it has been a trying time for Tom Brady. We know it was hard for him to give up his court appeals and serve his four-game suspension at the start of this season.
We knew Brady was going to get a lot of questions this week about Deflategate, Roger Goodell, Donald Trump, and his opportunity to become the first quarterback to win five Super Bowls.
But we did not know that there has been a personal crisis going on in the Patriot quarterback’s family this year, and we were not expecting Brady to become super emotional in the early days of Super Bowl week. CSNNE’s Tom Curran reported Tuesday that Brady’s mother Galynn has been dealing with an illness for 18 months.
Brady teared up and had trouble continuing when he was asked about his father during Monday’s traditionally frivolous media night festival. On Tuesday, at the team’s Houston hotel headquarters, Brady explained his emotional response, citing his parents’ sparse attendance at Patriots games this season.
“You just have different things that your family goes through in the course of your life, and it’s been a challenging year for my family, just for some personal reasons,’’ said the quarterback. “It’ll be nice to have everyone here watching us this weekend.
“My mom and dad have been so supportive my entire life and it’s nice to be here to show them and try to make them proud.’’
Is his family situation making this Super Bowl more emotional than the others?
“Yeah, my mom hasn’t been to a game this season,’’ he said. “My dad has been to one, and it’s very atypical. They’re going to be here this weekend, which I’m very excited about, to see everybody. I’ve got a big group coming.’’
That was the extent of the information Brady offered, and even in the carnival environment of a Super Bowl media session, reporters were respectful of Brady’s privacy. No one asked him if his mother or father has been dealing with an illness (CSNNE’s report came out later Tuesday).
Brady was asked about his emotions Tuesday because of his extraordinary responses 40 minutes into the Clown Show of Monday’s one-hour media session.
It came out of nowhere. Brady predictably had dodged a few queries on Goodell (“I’ve moved on. I focus on positive things in my life. I’m not worried about postgame or anything like that”) and Trump (“I’m not talking politics at all because I just want to focus on the positive aspects of this game”) when a young boy asked him who his hero was.
“That’s a great question,’’ said Brady. “I think my dad is my hero because he’s someone I look up to every day and . . .”
There was a six-second pause before Brady added, “My dad.’’
I used this opportunity to try to get Brady to go back to the topic of Goodell. Tom Brady Sr. had some highly critical comments about Goodell in a television interview last week. I asked Tom Jr. if Tom Sr.’s comments represent Tom Jr.’s feelings.
“Well, you know, no, I’d say my dad represents his feelings,’’ Brady started. “You know, because he’s a dad and, you know, I’m a dad and . . .”
His eyes got watery. Folks stopped shouting questions. Sixteen silent seconds ticked off the clock. This does not happen on media night. Brady reached up with his left hand to wipe a tear from his left eye. He fidgeted in his chair and adjusted his microphone. He kept nodding his head as his composure returned. Finally, he spoke again.
“So . . .”
Watch: Brady talks about his father
Twenty minutes later, Brady came back to the topic of his father.
“He was just a great example for me,” he said. “He was someone who supported me in everything that I did. To come home at night and bring me out and hit me ground balls and fly balls. I loved baseball growing up. To have a chance to go to 49er games on the weekends with him and my mom and throw the ball in the parking lot at the games. Those are memories I’ll have forever.’’
This probably explains why Brady was Zen-like and conflict-averse for the entire bumpy ride of 2016. He takes the high road when he gets asked about Goodell, won’t address Trump, and says he wants only positive things in his life. He continually cites the impact Don Miguel Ruiz’s self-help book, “The Four Agreements,’’ has had on his life.
There’s a beautiful photo of Galynn Brady holding her 4-year-old son in the stands at Candlestick Park on the day San Francisco beat Dallas to win the NFC Championship in 1982. In 2015, folks who run Brady’s Facebook page sent out the photo with a quote from Tom recalling it as “a magical time in my life.’’
It can’t be easy to deal with this private matter in the most public of forums, but it’s clear that Brady’s seventh Super Bowl is important to him for reasons that have nothing to do with revenge or his place in football history.