Tom Brady, who can execute with finesse virtually any move a quarterback could dream of, apparently can’t make the most basic of all moves, standing up and taking a position against domestic abuse. Asked in his weekly WEEI interview about Dallas tight end Greg Hardy’s beating up his girlfriend, Brady executed that famous insider sidestep, telling Gerry Callahan he doesn’t really know Hardy, and “I’m going to stay away from that one.”
This was notably after Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett said he’s not sure he would want Hardy as a teammate. Bennett is the father of three daughters. Eagles offensive lineman Jason Kelce echoed the sentiment, saying “It’s a joke” that Hardy is back on the field. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, for whom Hardy is now playing, acknowledged that beating up your girlfriend is a serious matter, but said he believes in second chances. While the attack occurred while Hardy is playing for the Carolina Panthers in 2014, the issue resurfaced with the recent release of photos of the victim and Hardy’s conviction for domestic abuse was expunged this week in North Carolina.
Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones is a buddy of Patriots owner Bob Kraft, which could have deterred Brady from making a statement. And QB12 has his own ongoing issues with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. But come on. Brady has a daughter and a wife. It’s one thing not to go on a crusade against domestic violence, but to refuse to say anything when questioned is unacceptable to many New England fans and Brady loyalists.
All the more so when you look at the University of Missouri football team. On Saturday night, black members of the team said they would neither practice nor play if the President of the University refused to resign in the wake of recent racist events to which he had inadequately responded. On Monday, President Timothy Wolfe stepped down. The players had the support of their coach, Gary Pinkel. This was a high stakes move, with the players futures on the line and the possibility of a $1 million payment if Missouri had actually forfeited its upcoming game with Brigham Young University. But the ultimatum worked.
For better or worse, Tom Brady is a role model for children and adolescents. What kind of message does his apparent indifference send to teenagers just learning about harassment issues? The stakes for him in speaking out on domestic violence did not rise to what the Missouri players were risking. But our enormously successful, record-breaking, highly accomplished star could take a lesson from those college athletes. Athletes can have an impact as thought leaders, they can align themselves on the right side of moral issues, they can take a stand for social justice. Shame on Tom Brady for taking a pass on domestic violence.
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