Tom Brady Announced His Retirement Today
Tom Brady finally retired today.
For most of my adult life, I was a football fan. The whole time, my love of the game sat uncomfortably beside my real concerns about how dangerous it is.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, there was some false controversy about whether the NFL was dangerous to the athletes who played in it. I never got caught up in it: I was always certain football was a dangerous sport. As a kid, my parents said they wouldn’t let me play tackle football. (They didn’t have to worry.) My high school fielded no football team (at least in my first one or two years), nor did my college for the same reason: Back when both schools fielded football teams, kids died of injuries on the field.
Still, a combination of learning about the strategy of the game from Madden games and John Madden broadcasts with his telestrator and the fact that almost everybody around me was a football fan led me to become a fanatic myself. As a New Englander, the Patriots were my default football team. It was not much fun watching them, though, until Tom Brady took over as quarterback. Watching the Brady/Belichick team outsmart and outplay opponents was a little like watching an expert play Madden: thrilling if you are a fan, and boring for everyone else. Football games catalyzed house parties, bar nights, conversations with friends, minor holidays, and generally acceptable excuses to eat junk food, drink beer, and do almost nothing on the weekends.
I promised myself I would stop paying attention to football when Tom Brady retired. I actually gave it up a few years ago, before Brady even moved to the Buccaneers. At some point, I could no longer ignore the dangers of CTE or the horrible physical toll that professional football puts on athlete’s bodies. Watching the big hits on the field became dreadful rather than exiting. Seeing injured players carted off the field became so upsetting I could no longer shrug it off after the inevitable commercial break.
I fell out of love with the sport entirely. I no longer want to watch any sport where people intentionally hurt each other. Instead of helping me have a good time, seeing people battered on the field—or long after they stopped playing the game—now makes me sad.