I’m not exactly a sports nut. I was a cheerleader in high school, and I spent my first football cheer season constantly trying to figure out if my team was on offense or defense. Even with my limited sports knowledge, I do know that Tom Brady played for a while on a team called the Patriots. I’m wondering if that’s why he got confused enough to foolishly compare football season to a military deployment. As the spouse of a veteran, I want to let Tom Brady know that putting on a uniform before work is where the similarities between his job and a military service member’s job end.
For ten years, my husband wore the uniform of the United States Air Force. He signed up for that job voluntarily, and we enjoyed our time moving around the world as he served our nation. In 2021 he deployed to the Middle East for six months, and those six months and the period of reintegration afterward were some of the most difficult months of my life and of our marriage.
In case Tom Brady is interested in learning what deployment is really like (hint: it doesn’t involve making millions or being famous), I’m happy to educate. Deployment is kissing your spouse goodbye and not seeing them for six months. Deployment is celebrating your children’s birthdays via video calls and sending recordings of bedtime stories instead of in-person snuggles. Deployment is serving your country in locations and for durations of time that you are not at liberty to share with others for security reasons. For some families, deployment is saying goodbye for nine or even 12 months at a time. It’s back-to-back tours overseas and away from family. Deployment can be missing the birth of your babies or death of your parents. It can result in physical injuries, losing friends, and post-traumatic stress. Deployment means coming home with baggage no one else understands. It means marital discord, disagreements, and divorce. Sometimes it means not coming home at all.
If Mr. Brady won’t take my word for it, maybe he’ll appreciate data from the Pew Research Center, which show that 23% of veterans who deployed say their deployments had a negative impact on their physical and mental health. Or maybe he will pause when he hears that six in ten combat veterans know and served with someone who was killed in the line of duty. Perhaps he will rethink his comparison when told that about one third of post 9/11 veterans believe they have suffered from post-traumatic stress. The experiences of deployed military personnel don’t seem so similar to Tom Brady’s typical football season worries about getting sacked, underinflated balls, and whether-or-not to retire.
Over the years, my football knowledge has improved, and I no longer have trouble figuring out who has possession of the ball. I also know that this increased understanding does not make me an expert; the closest I’ve come to doing Tom Brady’s job was that one time I played in the Powder Puff football game my junior year. Tom Brady is considered the GOAT, and he’s currently the highest paid player in the NFL. I hope Mr. Brady recognizes that loads of talent, success, and status do not make him an expert in other fields. The starting line is nowhere near the front line.
*I understand that Tom Brady issued an apology apology after I first drafted this piece. While there is forgiveness and grace, I decided to publish the post anyway in order to share my perspective.
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